Saturday, November 01, 2008

Schultzie here again, as I mentioned the other day I'm pulling double duty, "reporting" on the Carolina Hurricanes and my junior team, the Tri-City Americans. I mentioned in my post about 'Canes coach Peter Laviolette that I would also be doing a post about the AMS coach Don Nachbaur, so here it is.

With Don Nachbaur there's even a Carolina connection--Don played for the Hartford Whalers in the 80-81 and 81-82 seasons. As for his coaching record:

He's in his 6th season behind the AMS bench. Prior to taking over there was a variety of bad coaches and even Bob Tory took over for a few months before Don was hired. The whole atmosphere changed immediately. In one word, discipline. As a fan the first place I noticed it was on the bench, the boys were sitting down, watching the game, waiting for their turn. No more standing around, disorganization, or chaos. He was also fortunate to take the reigns for a team that had talent, especially defensive talent--Shawn Belle, Clayton Stoner, Logan Stephenson. In addition he had a team with a lot of grit and was willing to drop the gloves. Strong defense and gritty play is Don's type of team. He's been accused of having a goon-squad or whatever. I suppose that is bound to happen when there's a Boogaard on your team...

His second season he was blessed with a rookie goalie named Carey Price. Hell, we were all blessed. Still had a lot of defensive talent, not enough goal-scoring talent. Which remained the case for 3 seasons.

Then last season, the 07-08 season, Bob went out and traded for Colton Yellow Horn. All the sudden, Don had an entirely different team composition than previous seasons in Tri-Cities. The defense was no longer the strongest aspect of the team, it was now all about offense. Chet Pickard in net, Carey's understudy took the reighns. This really forced Don to change his coaching tactics--he no longer had a huge and rough team, he had a small, speedy, goal-scoring team. They were one bounce away from going to the WHL championships where they would have erased Lethbridge, and onto the Memorial Cup where I believe they would have won it all.

Don pushes the boys really really hard. As one player said one day, "I've never had so many verbal daggers thrown my way in one practice before." But that pushing gets results. They may hate him (I have no idea if they do or not) but they respect him and they work their asses off for him.

This year will be a challenge. Gone is Yellow Horn. The defense has been spotty at best. Chet's been solid and they've managed to be lucky so far. They have talent, it's just such a different team that last season and expectations are sky high.

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