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PRINCIPE: Fairly Toddparent

by Chris Wescott / Edmonton Oilers
Photo by Andy Devlin

It was a great piece of TV by Sportsnet on Tuesday night, with Edmonton taking on Tampa Bay. I mean, first off, while Kevin Quinn, Drew Remenda and myself are the people you see. It's the people you don't see who try to make us and the game look as good as possible. The sequence I'm talking about involved Todd McLellan and Taylor Hall.

If you missed it, here's a recap. McLellan is on the bench and being very vocal to Taylor. It looks like he's being scolded. Later, the coach is giving him a pat on the back and encouraging him. Fast forward to soon after the most recent exchange on the bench, and Hall goes out and lays a beautiful pass to Leon Draisaitl for a gorgeous goal.

I mean, a coach or a parent couldn't have made it work out any better than it did. It was almost like giving your kids heck for not studying enough. Later, you go back to them and try to explain the importance of school and tell them to give it their best. Next test gets written and they pull off a high score. That's the way it is supposed to work between older people and younger people. Imparting a little wisdom through age-old experience than can help make our young people better. Better people and better players. That's what Todd McLellan is trying to do with the nucleus of this hockey club: teach them what they're doing wrong, sometimes using strong words to make the point but not leaving it there. Then following up with a vote of confidence, which you hope leads to positive results.

I've learned something this year in watching Todd up close for more than half a season. Coaching and teaching can be almost one in the same when it comes to this bench boss and this team. Like so many of us who have kids, I’ve coached mine. I always felt like I was more of a teacher than a coach with the kids. However, I never really felt that about pro sports teams. Consider my mind changed after what I saw Tuesday night and what I've seen this season. To be clear, Todd McLellan isn't the first or last coach to do it but I don't believe I've seen it done that often. Also, it's not just him but the entire coaching staff of Jay Woodcroft, Jim Johnson, Ian Herbers and Dustin Schwartz.

When Todd was in San Jose, as he has mentioned many times, it was an older and more experienced team. A lot of the core on that Sharks hockey club had already learned their lessons and he was more the captain of the ship trying to steer them away from the rocks and towards smooth sailing. From 30-somethings, he's now inherited a bunch of 20-somethings who have been through as many tough times as they have coaches. They now have one coaching staff with one message to be relayed to the team. Players won't like everything they hear, but students don't either. It's about understanding that at the end of the season/end of the term, whether you liked your coach/teacher there's a realization that they had your best interests in mind. Through some tough love and kind words you passed the course and you have you coach or teacher to thank for it.
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