Anaheim Ducks: Staying the Current Course Could be the Best Option

Head coach Dallas Eakins of the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Head coach Dallas Eakins of the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /
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Anaheim Ducks
Head coach Dallas Eakins of the Anaheim Ducks (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

The Anaheim Ducks Need a Simple Message

People are fundamentally incapable of taking on board too much information. The best coaches may stick to singular messages. There is a story going around of a Robin Reid middleweight title fight (1996) in which his coach had some few words to say to his fighter between rounds.

You can imagine all of the things that could be said: He could ask to push the pace to take advantage of better conditioning; He could receive encouragement for executing the plan thus far; Warnings about complacency; Perhaps he could consider just telling the fighter to continue doing what he was doing. What do you imagine the message was? “Sit down when you punch.”

That was it. That was the message. More to the point, it was a message that provided a simple visualization and referred back to hours spent in the gym. For the record, the message referred to planting the feet and producing more power in his punches.

The coach had seen his fighter, landing punches and hurting the other fighter, but that he was always looking to move away once they landed. His message now was to make those punches hit harder and for them to count. Reid understood. He won the fight.

The All Blacks Rugby Union team has a simple message under the stewardship of Sir Graham Henry. “Enhance the All Blacks Jersey and pass it on in a better state than it was when you go it.”  The Anaheim Ducks need a simple message and they need that continuation.

Perhaps a more apt story would be one from Sir Alex Ferguson’s old team. For those who follow English Football, many would recognize Ferguson as a master coach. His aura as a coach is just so great. However, his heir following his retirement never quite had the touch that Ferguson did. While Ferguson preached simplicity, David Moyes would often send mixed messages. Consider the following comments from Rio Ferdinand:

"“I think perhaps the biggest thing was that Sir Alex Ferguson never confused us with too much detail – just a few key words and a mindset that there’s no doubt we were going to beat the other teams. If you go out with a clear, strong idea, you’ll execute in a more decisive manner”"

Conversely, he had this to say about David Moyes, who wanted them to change styles. Though the complaint was that none of the players knew what that style would look like.

"There were a lot of mixed messages. Sometimes he’d say ” I want you to pass the ball,” other days it was, “I dont want you to pass the ball.” What the fuck do you want us to do man?"

Now, while this is clearly a coaching issue, the change in message is clearly an issue for players. In bringing that back to a hockey scenario, it would seem prudent to maintain a similar message for the duration of a particular goal. For the Anaheim Ducks now, their goal should be to rebuild. Once they’ve cleared that hurdle and have developed a player group who can reach the top half of the league in goal scoring and prevention, then perhaps those goals can change.