McLellan Manages the Heck Out of Heatley

Good coaching is often about managing personalities as much as it’s about Xs and Os.

The Sharks had lost a step (or two) so coach Todd McLellan had an interesting idea: he shifted Dany Heatley off of the first powerplay unit.

It seems to have worked, as the Sharks earned a big win over the Rangers last night, complete with two powerplays.

But even if it hadn’t paid immediate dividends, this was still a great move. It sent a message to Heatley, that like it or not, he was going to be coached and he would play where and when he was told. It told the team that Heatley would be held accountable and wouldn’t receive special treatment. And finally, it spreads out opponents a bit more. Instead of focusing on one big powerplay unit, there are suddenly two dangerous units.

If the media are any kind of indicator, it seems like everyone in the NHL not connected to the Sharks is really rooting for Heatley to fail. And to be honest, watching Heatley all of these years, I’ve often wondered if he has some issues with success. It’s nice to see McLellan figuring out ways to keep Heatley on track without derailing the entire team. I’m curious if he can do this for an entire season.