When a coach’s team is in trouble, he’ll typically do or say something provocative or outlandish to draw media attention away from his team and their performance and onto himself.
It’s a standard coaching move that’s common across sports.
Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau worked that move yesterday, calling New York Rangers defenseman Marc Staal dirty and taking shots at Madison Square Garden.
The Staal comments are designed to get some calls going Washington’s way and the Madison Square Garden comments are designed to get some media coverage (which they did — I even heard them discussed on sports talk radio yesterday and this morning).
It was a bizarre move for a coach who’s up two games to one against a team that seems quite beatable.
If I’m a member of the Capitals, I’m wondering what Boudreau is worried about. Because drawing media fire the way he did yesterday seems to indicate Boudreau has some concerns about beating the Rangers. A confident coach wouldn’t have to resort to gamesmanship.
And the thing of it is, players know all of this. A team knows when a coach is trying to divert attention away from their play. So while Boudreau definitely accomplished his mission of getting reporters talking about what he said, one has to wonder about the psychological damage the move inflicted on his own team. Are the Capitals going to go into game four, on the road, against a physically tough team, thinking their coach is worried about their ability to win? Is it healthy for the Capitals to worry their coach is worried about the calls they are and are not getting?
When a team is down three games to none or one, it makes sense for the coach to try and change the media conversation, just to give a psychologically weakened team a little bit of breathing room. But I can’t for the life of me think of why a number one seed that’s beating the eight seed would act like it hasn’t been the better team in the playoffs.
While Washington hasn’t played up to its full potential, they’re playing more than well enough to beat the Rangers.
It’s too bad the coach of the Capitals doesn’t think that, though. And it’s even worse that he chose to share his lack of confidence with the world.
The Capitals are winning this series and their coach just doesn’t seem to realize it.