Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler is one of the good ones. He's a candid, thoughtful interviewee, reliable for some insightful and occasionally edgy comments when questioned.
In a story compiled by Vancouver Canucks beat writer and THN correspondent Ben Kuzma and brought to our attention by Yahoo Puck Daddy, Kesler shared some thoughts on what type of coach should fill the Ducks' vacancy. And the comments didn't shed the warmest of light on the departed Bruce Boudreau, tapped to stand behind the Minnesota Wild's bench next season.
We shouldn't put words in Ryan Kesler's mouth, as he was simply responding to being asked what type of coach would help his team the best. Whichever way he answers the question, he'll likely list qualities Boudreau doesn't have, as Boudreau wouldn't be fired if he had those missing qualities. Still, Kesler's comments provide insight on what Boudreau's players may believe he lacked as a coach:
“We just need a good bench coach, a coach that does things on the fly and makes changes during the game and not just between periods. We need a coach that holds everybody accountable — not just certain guys. We need a coach to come in and just be a good motivator and do what a coach does.
“The biggest thing is we need a good bench coach for strategies. But it’s not my job to pick a coach, because there are a lot of good ones out there.”
It's difficult not to view those comments as at least mildly pointed. The implication there is Boudreau was not a fast enough adjuster during games and that he was harder on some players than others.
And perhaps we've entered an era in which everyone expects a more cerebral approach to coaching. The Blues' Ken Hitchcock is as studious as it gets, for example.
“I don’t just go into coaches’ clinics and look at Xs and Os and power plays and penalty killing,” he once told me. “I go to millennial seminars for kids and talk to junior coaches all the time. I talk to military people who have cadets who are going through the same issues as our kids are."
Another deep thinker, the Penguins' Mike Sullivan, has been very open throughout the playoffs about his high-pressure, chip-and-chase system and how it specifically caters to his players' strengths, using their speed to play behind opposing defensemen instead of in front of them.
So perhaps we're seeing Kesler holding coaches to a higher standard. Which Boudreau successor would fit the desired profile? The hot candidate right now is Travis Green, as Kuzma mentions in his story. And don't forget about Paul MacLean, the Ducks assistant widely credited with engineering their top-ranked power play in 2015-16.
Matt Larkin is a writer and editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin