Craig Berube wasn't a bad head coach, really. He was fine -- nothing special, nor terribly egregious.
But one of the biggest problems that plagued him and his team in 2014-15 was the lack of accountability in the locker room, and the bizarre decisions he made with his personnel that had no true rhyme or reason behind them. Maybe lack of accountability isn't the way to put it. More like unexplained accountability.
If you're a guy like Michael Del Zotto or Carlo Colaiacovo, for example, and you're spending long stretches of games in the press box as a healthy scratch, it can be frustrating. But if you know you deserve that fate, it's a bit easier to swallow. In the case of the 2014-15 Flyers, however, Craig Berube would bench players like Del Zotto and Colaiacovo while guys like Nicklas Grossmann and Andrew MacDonald saw the lineup. It was head-scratching.
That was one of my major issues with Berube. D-men getting scratched and seemingly not knowing why, nor given a specific point to work on.— Charlie O'Connor (@BSH_THG_Charlie) May 19, 2015
It didn't seem to make any sense, and players would allude in the media to the fact that they didn't really know what they were doing wrong or what they could do to get back in the lineup.
This is why Vincent Lecavalier didn't want to play for Berube anymore. It's why Del Zotto said this during a stretch where he was scratched in December, via the Daily News:
"I was a little bit surprised when I came to the rink this morning," Del Zotto said. "I was a little bit disappointed, frustrated, all of the above. Things obviously aren't going as well as the team would like as of late and we're trying to find a way to get some wins, so it's a coach's decision."
Del Zotto, 24, was clearly bothered by Berube's sudden change of direction - and he hasn't been alone over the last week.
"There’s little talk," [Andrew] MacDonald said of his communication with coach Craig Berube. "He understands that I’m upset. I’m wanting to play, obviously. But at the end of the day, he’s got decisions to make. It’s not a situation that anyone wants to be in."
Discipline in the form of the healthy scratch only works if players know why they're a healthy scratch. You don't send a toddler to time out without first telling him why he's in time out. You don't send a criminal to prison without telling them why they're in prison. It works the same with any form of discipline, right?
It's pretty clear that . Sure, he's hard on his players. But accountability is a big deal. From this week's 30 Thoughts feature by Elliotte Friedman at CBC:
His players really liked him. One (who preferred not to be named), said that good or bad, he's honest with you. "You always know where you stand." Craig Simpson, whose son Dillon played four years there, texted the coach was always focused "on preparing players for that next step. Top-notch training on- and off-ice, and mentality of what it takes to be an everyday pro player."
Will it work the same for those who are already pros? "I won't change that," Hakstol said. "The approach is different, but the belief is the same."
And Hakstol said the same thing in his introductory press conference on Monday.
"I can tell you the way I approach my business on a daily basis is in a very direct manner," he said. "I think expectations are quite simple of myself, of my staff and our players. Maybe to sum up in one word, accountability to one another, to our organization."
It's a department in which Craig Berube certainly did not excel. Don't worry about it with Hakstol.