So it's official, Lorne Molleken is being replaced as Head Coach of the Saskatoon Blades by Dave Struch, the former assistant coach, but will remain as General Manager. Not that it's very topical for Canadiens fans any longer, now that Dalton Thrower has been traded to the Vancouver Giants, but it does confirm our suspicion that Mr. Molleken was a fiery head coach who obviously cares deeply about his boys, but is definitely old school and may wear thin on certain players. Dave Struch seemed like he was caught between a rock and hard place during the "Road to the Memorial Cup" documentaries, the loyal soldier who toed the line but maybe felt another approach might work.
A few weeks ago, when we discussed this issue, I mentioned that I looked for clues in these documentaries regarding Dalton Thrower's disappointing season. I'd noticed there was precious little camera time for Dalton. Through other channels we heard of his suspension for not playing according to team rules, and of the rumoured fight in practice during which he supposedly suffered a concussion, a fight that stemmed from the fractured dressing room. In the episodes, nothing.
Watching these, I feel that Lorne Molleken is the kind of coach who some players might have problems with. He cares about his players and winning, but he definitely is a ‘my way or the highway’ guy, and if you got on his wrong side he might have a hard time getting to the ‘forgive and forget’ stage. I never heard him say anything that was creative or insightful, he just insisted on complete effort and making the safe dump-and-chase play all the time.
Some people posited that Dalton Thrower and his coach had differences that affected his play. That’s plausible, we figured, and we think he needs another season in Junior, and being with the Giants might be just what the doctor ordered. He'll be watched over by a strong coaching staff and he can put his game back together. Considering that Hamilton has a lot of young defencemen already, and Magnus Nygren and Darren Dietz will be heading there next fall, I don’t know if Dalton Thrower has a spot there.
Let’s hope that this year is a hiccup, and the kid delivers on last season’s promise. He says he patterns his game after Kevin Bieksa’s, and I’d take anything approaching that in a heartbeat.