Hockey Canada President and CEO Tom Renney made his first public comments about Team Canada's loss at the World Junior Hockey Championships yesterday. As reported by The Canadian Press, he ended his statement with an important point:
The fact of that matter is we came up short. We have to sit back and evaluate why and look for solutions and not point fingers.
We’re going to take a real good hard look at this and reflect upon it once the emotions subside
This is a reasonable conclusion to make in a situation where there is an unexpected result, even in a tournament like this where you are often one defeat from being knocked out. You need to review all decisions and their framework to see if you can improve.
The problem is immediately prior to this statement Renney admitted he isn't going to do any of that and will instead take the easy way out and point his fingers at the players.
At the end of the day, our special teams needed to maybe perform a bit better. When your save percentage is under .900 everyone knows that it's going to be tough to win. There's no question about that.
That's quite a direct assignment of blame on the players, especially since Renney then doubled down and absolved the coaching staff of any responsibility for those errors.
I thought our team was very well prepared, I thought we had as good a coaching staff at the competition as anyone. There's no doubt in my mind that our guys put the time and effort in to have the team ready to go. There is a point in time where that transfer of responsibility goes from the coach to the player.
The bottom line is that the coaching staff did an excellent job.
What happened to "The important thing is that we don't point fingers and wait for the emotions to subside before deciding where to lay blame." ?
At least one rival coach wasn't so quick to wipe the blame away from the players. According to Michael Traikos of Postmedia, when asked about Canada's penalties USA Hockey coach Ron Wilson said it is the coach’s responsibility for ensuring that the team keeps its composure.
We’re going to play our game, which is a speed game fortunately and a puck possession game. We’ve stressed that and our guys have bought into that.
Traikos went on to say that Wilson would have benched Virtanen rather than continue to play him. Tom Renney responded to his by siding again with the Canadian coaches.
That’s a coaching decision, no question. I support the coaching decisions that were made.
I'm not sure how much clearer he could come across here that there were no problems with coaching at all. Is that how you start an unbiased analysis with what went wrong?
Renney moved into Hockey Canada in 2014 after he was fired as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers. He took over from Bob Nicholson who resigned to become CEO of Oilers Entertainment Group.
When Renney was hired The Globe and Mail spoke to Mike Babcock, with whom Renney was an assistant coach, who had this to say: "Tom Renney treats people right, a hundred per cent integrity."