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Top 3 NHL Coaches of All Time

The National Hockey League or NHL for short is the world’s premier hockey league. While it is the players that tend to get the most attention, some highly skilled coaches deserve their own accolades for the achievements they made in coaching the teams they coached for.

We thought it might be nice to highlight three of the best in the game who have retired or passed away. Their achievements are well deserving of pen to paper per say. We hope you agree!

1. Scotty Bowman

Scotty Bowman had 1,244 wins in his coaching career and is one of the most celebrated. This is the most out of any who have coached in the big leagues and is impressive, to say the least. Bowman began his coaching career with the St. Louis Blues and remained there for four years. After leaving St. Louis, Bowman made his way to Montreal to coach the Canadiens for eight years. A successful run that saw Bowman winning the Stanley Cup five times.

After leaving Montreal, Bowman found himself in Buffalo with the Sabres and in his five years with the team, failed to win the Stanley Cup and was fired from his coaching duties. Bowman then moved to Hockey Night in Canada where he was an analyst before returning to the bench with the Penguins for two seasons where he coached the Penguins to the Stanley Cup in his first year. After his second season, Bowman moved onto to Detroit Red Wings and remained there for a record nine seasons. In those nine seasons, Bowman and the Detroit team won the Stanley Cup three times before Bowman retired in 2002.

2. Joel Quenneville

Joel Quenneville has amassed 783 wins in his NHL career as a coach. Quenneville got his start with the St Louis Blues in 1996 and made it to the playoffs in each of the seven years he was coaching the team. His success with the Blues saw him making it to one conference final and winning the Presidents’ Trophy. After failing to win a Stanley Cup for the team he was let go, and in 2005 he returned to the Colorado Avalanche, a team he was an assistant coach with before accepting the head coach position with the Blues.

Quenneville remained with the Avalanche for three seasons before moving onto the Chicago Blackhawks where he coached the team to their first Stanley Cup trophy in almost 50 years. Since their first win, Quenneville and the Blackhawks have gone on to win the Stanley Cup two more times, once in 2013 and again in 2015. He is considered one of the best coaches in the league today.

3. Al Arbour

However, not all was lost for Arbour as he found himself with the New York Islanders and this is where he shined. While he failed to make it to the playoffs in the first year as head coach, they did every year thereafter while he was head coach. Arbour coached the Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cup wins during the 80’s before he moved onto the Edmonton Oilers. Arbour remained with the Canadian team until 1986, returning for another six years in 1989 where he coached the team to the playoffs not once, but three times. Arbour had a total of 782 career wins,

However, not all was lost for Arbour as he found himself with the New York Islanders and this is where he shined. While he failed to make it to the playoffs in the first year as head coach, they did every year thereafter while he was head coach. Arbour coached the Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cup wins during the 80’s before he moved onto the Edmonton Oilers. Arbour remained with the Canadian team until 1986, returning for another six years in 1989 where he coached the team to the playoffs not once, but three times. Arbour had a total of 782 career wins,

However, not all was lost for Arbour as he found himself with the New York Islanders and this is where he shined. While he failed to make it to the playoffs in the first year as head coach, but they did every year after that while he was head coach. Arbour coached the Islanders to four consecutive Stanley Cup wins during the 80’s before he moved onto the Edmonton Oilers. Arbour remained with the Canadian team until 1986, returning for another six years in 1989 where he coached the team to the playoffs not once, but three times. Arbour had a total of 782 career wins.

A Coach Who Taught from Experience

Gene Guarilia was my high school gym teacher. He also taught health classes at the school and had been the basketball coach for many years before I arrived at the high school. He was enormous. Six feet five inches, although he looked a hell of a lot bigger than that. He was known by many names. Whether it was Big Gene, the name all students called him behind his back, Pecos, the name his friends used, or simply Coach, as he was known by the legion of young men he led onto the hardcourt, everyone spoke of him with respect. Gene carried with him a history that was known by many but rarely spoken of. Especially by him.

Gene was born in the coal regions of Pennsylvania, in a small town famous for its pizza, Old Forge. September of 1937 was the beginning of Big Gene’s story. It was a story that would span many miles and many days.

From the very beginning Gene loved the game of basketball. As a young boy, and later a young man, he could most often be found on the playground, ball in hand, shooting foul shots. His dedication and commitment to the game pay dividends. He became a star in high school. As a matter of fact, in 1953 he said a state record for most points scored by a freshman, 595.

His many talents in the basketball court enabled him to attend George Washington University on a scholarship. 30 point college basketball, at one point averaging over 17 points a game and reaching the top ten in the NCAA in rebounding.

For all the students of my generation knew, Gene was a musician when he got out of college. In our era, he was the bass player for a very popular band. We had seen him play many of the local fireman’s picnics and most of us thought that that was where his true passion lie. It turns out of his true passion was coaching. Hear the first successful run as her local high school coach.

What many of us were unaware of the fact that Gene was an NBA player after college. His knowledge of the game when he was coaching was evident and most players couldn’t understand how their coach had come by such a deep and total understanding of the game.
The fact of the matter was, Gene played for the Boston Celtics. Gene played with the Celtics from 1959 until 1963 and during that era

Boston was a dominant team. In a brief span of four years, Gene was a member of four NBA world championship teams.

Gene once told me that he left the Celtics after four years because he wanted to take a job that led to a more stable home environment. That job was teaching and coaching. Gene said he left the NBA because the local high school had offered him $2,100 to be a coach and a teacher. Which was more money than this four-time NBA champion was making playing basketball.

What makes a great basketball coach?

What makes a great basketball coach? The list of answers to this question can be extensive, as you can well imagine. So, let’s try and find some traits and characteristics that some of the best basketball coaches in the world share.

One of the characteristics that can be found at or near the top of everyone’s list is integrity. Coaches must be trustworthy and honest.  From Elementary and Middle School coaches watching over your son or daughter to NBA coaches working with multimillion-dollar per year professional athletes, coaches must be honest and forthright in their dealings with the players. Parents won’t let their kids play for a coach that they can trust and likewise, professional athletes won’t perform as well for a coach they can’t put their faith in.

Perhaps the second most important characteristic of a successful coach is x’s and o’s. Coaches must know the game inside and out, upside and down. They have to adapt on the fly to changing game situations, manage offenses and defenses and quickly adjust player personnel. Basketball is an extremely fast-paced game and the successful coach must be prepared for any eventuality. The amount of variables in what makes up a winning basketball team make a coaches job extremely difficult. And because of the number of variables, the coach must become a master of delegation to his or her assistant coaches. Selecting assistant coaches that they can trust is one of the more important decisions a coach can make.

Analysis and the ability to recognize tendencies are other attributesthat the most successful basketball coaches share. Coaches spend countless hours breaking down film, trying to determine what opposing players do in any given situation. They also use game film to analyze the tendencies of their own players in an effort to correct flaws or enhance certain aspects of the game. Learning the tendencies of all players on the court provides a distinct advantage. Knowing what a player may do in a certain situation can help you to either defend him or get him the ball.

A successful coach must also decide on what aspect of the game to focus most of their attention. Insome games you may need more rebounds, in others you may need more three-point shots. In some you may need more defense, in others you may need more fast-break points. Knowing which facet of the game will provide you the biggest opportunity for an advantage could mean the difference between a win and a loss.

Getting to know players personally can lead to success on the basketball court. Prayers recognize when the coach is personally invested in them and tend to perform much better in that setting. The players will consider the coach an integral part of the team if he can demonstrate that he truly cares for each and every one of them.

Get to know your prayers, get to know your opponent’s, exploit weaknesses and maximize strengths. Most of all, be prepared for any eventualities.