This NHL team can teach Arizona Cardinals ownership some lessons
There is one NHL team, whose owner is a colleague of Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill, that can teach him a lot about building an eventual winner.
While the team in question is not yet a winner, they are the youngest team in a league where many pundits are projecting to be one of the NHL’s better teams in the foreseeable future.
As a follower of that team, I’ve seen firsthand the sheer improvements from Year 1 to what is now Year 3 in what has been a massive rebuild and organizational overhaul. And while the Coyotes actually beat them just a few short days ago, this team, even when they lose some games, has given their fanbase a lot of optimism.
That team is the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, and when you conduct a quick look in the search engines, you will also find that many also consider their “scary good” prospects pool (virtually backups and developing players) to also be among the league’s best, if not the best.
So, what can the Bidwills learn from the Pegula-owned and operated franchise in Western New York? A lot, actually.
Lesson #1 – Hire a coach with a good track record in developing young talent
Yes, that’s Bruce Arians in the picture and no, he is not coming back to the sidelines. But Arians had a remarkable run with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012 with a rookie quarterback in Andrew Luck. And that 9-3 run led the supposedly downtrodden Colts to the playoffs and Arians a head coaching job in the desert. Arians also helped develop quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. That said, the Cardinals need to find their next Bruce Arians.
While you can make the argument Kliff Kingsbury fit the bill in coaching young talent, as he coached Patrick Mahomes in college, he was never quite as successful in doing so as Sabres head coach Don Granato. The latter of whom has had extensive experience in developing young players throughout his coaching career.
Since the Sabres knew they were going to overhaul their roster with young talent while sprinkling in the occasional veteran, they needed a coach who could turn draft picks into NHL stars. So far, Granato has saved the careers of Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin, both of whom are now franchise cornerstones.
He also helped revitalize veterans like Jeff Skinner and Kyle Okposo, and is even soundly developing young talent like Dylan Cozens, J.J. Peterka, Rasmus Asplund, Owen Power, Mattias Samuelsson, and so many others.
For the Arizona Cardinals, this would mean hiring a coach that worked for a team that managed to rebuild itself into contenders through sheer youth. An assistant coach would fit the bill here, or if they find someone with previous head coaching experience, then it’s an added bonus. Like I said, they need to find their next Bruce Arians.