Friday, June 13, 2008

Hartsburg to Ottawa!

Well, it looks like my two favourite (non-international...see profile) hockey teams are about to be connected in the strangest (and potentially, most harmful) of ways...Craig Hartsburg, coach of the Soo Greyhounds (OHL team out of Sault Ste Marie) is apparently on his way to Ottawa.

A little background on Hartsburg. From 1979 to 1989, he played defense for the Minnesota North Stars (he was their first pick), and captained them from 1982 till his playing retirement. From 1995-1998, he coached the Chicago Blackhawks, then moved on to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (as they were still known) and coached there from 1998 till 2000. Since 2001 he's been coaching the Greyhounds (in separated stints), and served as head coach for the Canadian Juniors over the past two years.

He hasn't had much success coaching in the NHL thus far, but his OHL and Junior record is pretty fantastic (141-91-8-23 with the Hounds, not to mention Coach of the Year in 1995 with the Guelph Storm). The Greyhounds won in their West division this year, came second in the conference and made it to the conference finals in the playoffs, to be bumped by the Kitchener Rangers. Last year, they made it to the conference semi finals and lost 4-3 in a thrilling series against the London Knights (3-0 down, got it to 3-3 and forced a game 7 in London).

His Juniors record ain't too shabby either. He was assistant coach to Brent Sutter at the 2006 championships, before becoming head coach in 2007. His boys destroyed the Russians in the Super Series, and they've won gold the past three years at the IIHF World U20 Championship under Hartsburg (as head and ass't coach).

I guess the biggest positive point to him coming to Ottawa - jeez I don't really know. Fresh face I suppose, and he's certainly proved himself at the junior level - but look what happened with John Paddock. Failed former NHL coach, went junior, did really well, came back to the NHL and crashed again. Hartsburg has achieved substantially more at the junior level, mind you, but his NHL record is still a little worrying. He's also rumoured to be quite the badass, doesn't take any crap from his players - but then...neither did Paddock(?)

That said, having watched Greyhounds hockey for the past few years, it gives me confidence that Hartsburg is the man for the job in Ottawa.

Problem becomes - new coach needed for the Hounds! And the Canadian juniors...but I'm pretty sure they could still win everything with a mule behind the bench.

Mike has (and apparently will continue to do) a little coverage of the move, ici

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