I have been somewhat critical of the rapid promotion of Kelly Buchberger through the Oilers system without much in the way of experience, but that isn't what this post is about. After all, Buchberger has been both an assistant and head coach at the AHL level, albeit briefly, and also a player development coach.
Mike Gillis today announced
that Ryan Walter will be an assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks.
Walter seems pretty exceptional, in a lot of ways that have little to do with hockey. A brief biography can be found here
(Walter's web page is currently offline, probably because of traffic volume).
After a 16-year NHL career
, Walter went back to school and got a Master of Arts Degree in "Business/Leadership" which is both interesting and vague. He's written or co-written three books, all on the motivational aspect of hockey. He's been a (in my opinion, middling) TV analyst with Sportsnet, and has apparently spent a large portion of his time as a motivational speaker , trying to inspire "the HUNGRY SPIRIT!" Never having experienced the powers of Walter's motivational speaking first hand, I remain skeptical.
The point is, the experience that Walter brings (retired 15 years ago, motivational expert) are tangentially related to coaching. Like it or not, a big component of coaching is tactical, strategic- and it's the kind of thing a coach learns from experience. The game's changed since 1993.
The one thing this should do is give Vigneault some confidence. I'd conjectured earlier that whoever was hired as assistant should be regarded as "coach-in-waiting", the guy Gillis has tagged to replace Vigneault in the near to mid future, and unless Gillis is completely out to lunch, Walter will get some experience as an assistant before being considered for such a role.
In any case, I remain convinced that the Gillis experiment will end badly, and as much as I feel some pain for my dad at the prospect, it won't be anything but a positive for the Oilers.