By Fred Wallace
I found the Championship Series in both the National Hockey League and the National Basketball Association to be an interesting study in the value and impact of coaches.
Let's start in basketball.....
It's somewhat curious, don't you think, that the Toronto Raptors would dismiss the reigning Coach of the Year, Dwane Casey, and then go on to win the League Championship with a Rookie Head Coach in Nick Nurse.
In Nurse's one and only season as a Head Coach in the NBA, he put together a 58 win regular season and then claimed a Championship- that's a pretty good first year !!
I couldn't tell a good coach from a great coach when it comes to basketball, but the sequence for the Raptors on the bench and on the floor is somewhat unheard of.
Craig Berube of the Stanley Cup Champion St Louis Blues isn't a rookie coach, but his resume isn't lengthy with NHL experience or success.
In his 2 seasons as Head Coach of the Philadelphia Flyers his teams were eliminated in the first round or failed to make the post season.
Now, as side story to the remarkable tale of the St Louis Blues, Berube has a Stanley Cup ring.
And on the other side, Bruce Cassidy had a year & a bit as the Head Coach of Washington before eventually settling in with Boston over the last 2 & 1/2 seasons.
In between Washington and Boston, Cassidy had a stint as Head Coach of the Kingston Frontenacs in the Ontario Hockey League, a stint that the Kingston media will tell you ended with an explosion on the road at Sudbury, just 12 games into his second season with a record of 2-9-0 & 1 when he was relieved of his position.
Yes, times change, people grow, professionals improve, but the various roads to the Championship Finals in 2 major North American sports weren't traditional or smooth for Nick Nurse, Craig Berube or Bruce Cassidy.