No matter how talented you are at your craft, some jobs in the NHL are tougher than others simply due to their surroundings. Is being a goalie in Montreal the toughest job for an individual in the NHL? What about being the bench boss for the Leafs? Patrick and I debate… Playing goaltender in Montreal By Patrick Hoffman
When it comes to having a job in the National Hockey League, not everything is as glamorous as it seems. The perfect example of this is being the starting goaltender for one of the most storied NHL franchises, the Montreal Canadiens.
As all hockey fans are aware of, the Canadiens were built by past history, great coaches, great players, legends and other such lore that the team has had to offer since its inception. It is a franchise that is surrounded by greatness and one that will always be known for that.
Take a look at their current starting netminder, Carey Price. Before even stepping foot on the ice as a member of the Canadiens, he was expected to be the next Ken Dryden or Patrick Roy.
To be compared to either of those goaltenders is a real honor. However, it is an honor that comes with an extreme amount of pressure. Dryden and Roy did great things for the franchise, such as winning Stanley Cups, individual awards and being consistent year in and year out.
With that said, however, even the best got booed by their own fans. Everyone probably remembers when Roy was mocked in a blowout against the Detroit Red Wings back in December of 1995. That turned out to be Roy’s last game in a Canadien uniform before he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche.
Price has gone through the same thing. He was practically almost booted out of town when Jaroslav Halak had an unbelievable postseason in 2010. The exact opposite ended up happening, as Halak was traded and Price became the full-time starter, much to Canadiens’ fans disappointment.
Luckily, Price had an outstanding season last year and got the fans back on his side. With that said, it would not take much for Price to lose those fans should he have a subpar season this year.
Being a goaltender in Montreal, while honorable, is one of the most stressful things a professional hockey player can go through. I certainly would not want to deal with that pressure and scrutiny year in and year out.
Being Toronto’s head coach By Ryan Porth
The toughest job in the NHL has to be the position of head coach in Toronto.
On an annual basis, the Maple Leafs bench boss is under pressure to end the playoff drought, not to mention the 44-year Stanley Cup drought. And it doesn’t help that they have to operate in a fish-bowl environment.
The Leafs, a storied Original Six franchise, have failed to make the playoffs every year since 2004. Even worse, they haven’t experienced Cup glory since 1967. In Ron Wilson’s case, he hasn’t had a good enough team in Toronto that could have made the playoffs; but at the same time, he is under pressure to get the most out of his team and lead them beyond Game 82. If his friend, Brian Burke, wasn’t the GM, Wilson probably would have been run out of town by now.
It’s a lose-lose situation being the head man in Toronto. In a city where hockey is life, nothing is ever good enough. When Wilson’s teams don’t make the playoffs, yet take a step forward, it’s not good enough. The same could be said for when Pat Quinn’s pre-lockout teams made the playoffs. No matter what kind of roster is put together, expectations are high in Toronto.
Burke has done a stand-up job in rebuilding the on-ice product. But to truly make some noise, the whole atmosphere/culture around the team has to be changed – which is a difficult proposition for Wilson and company.
Ever since the Leafs won the Cup in 1967, the team has gone through 18 different head coaches. If you take out Quinn’s eight-year stint, the average stay for Leafs coaches is two years. In today’s world of the media questioning every coaching decision and the spotlight shines on every move you make, it makes it that much tougher to succeed as the head coach in Toronto.
Every year Toronto falls short of the postseason, the disappointment grows and Leafs fans almost expect to lose. When the fan base views the glass half-empty, and the pressure still doesn’t go away, it’s an awfully tough task to be the man steering the ship for the Maple Leafs.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.