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Fronenacs name Paul McFarland new coach
Posted: May 20th, 2014 @ 3:59pm
By CLAUDE SCILLEY
Paul McFarland is no stranger to the hockey team that Tuesday named him its new coach. By his own estimation, in his capacity as assistant coach with the Oshawa Generals last year he saw probably about 40 Kingston Frontenacs games.
He comes to the job, therefore, with a reasonable amount of insight.
"They're a high-end skill team with many individuals who can beat you, one on one," was the assessment he determined as an opposing coach. "Normally they have great starts to games. If you look at the team, they scored 10 to 12 goals in the first two minutes of games, so they were a team you had to be aware of that could quickly transition off bad mistakes.
"From the other side, you want to take control of the puck as much as possible and try to limit their elite players from having it."
Of course, as an opposing coach - one whose team won five of eight meetings in the regular year, by the way - doubtless McFarland had some insight with respect to the Frontenacs' vulnerabilities, too, and how to exploit them.
"There are always weaknesses," he said, putting his best diplomatic face forward. "You can look at any organization in the league. There are always going to be weaknesses. That's going to change from year to year, just based on personnel and the players that are available."
Becoming coach of a team that was so recently an opponent does offer a unique perspective, he said. "I have a good idea of what certain players' roles and responsibilities will be," he allowed, "but having said that I think every player deserves a fresh start with me being a new coach."
McFarland arrived with an air of optimism, as you would expect of a 28-year-old getting his first head-coaching gig, mixed with a cautious tone, as you would expect of a 28-year-old getting his first head-coaching gig.
He comes with solid Ontario Hockey League credentials - four years in the league, the last as captain of the Windsor Spitfires, after having won a Memorial Cup in Kitchener in 2003. He also played four years of intercollegiate hockey at Acadia, where he earned a degree in business administration and was three times named all-Canadian.
He cut his coaching teeth in Oshawa, working for D.J. Smith, his last junior coach in Windsor. He comes to a team that hasn't won a playoff series since the first Chretien administration - McFarland was 13 at the time, playing minor hockey in Richmond Hill - one that suffered the indignity of losing its most recent series after having led it 3-0.
Frontenacs general manager Doug Gilmour said he received 60 resumes from people hoping to land the Kingston job. That's a lot of reading to do in the 12 days since he tied the can to Todd Gill on May 5 and announced just last Thursday he had made the decision with respect to Gill's successor. If we can dismiss speed-reading as a possibility, we can assume that either someone was holding a place for Gill in the unemployment line for some time, or McFarland was Gilmour's man from the start.
One hopes McFarland appreciates the situation into which he's thrust himself. Given that the only two coaches in the last 10 years to bring the team home over .500 in the regular year - Jim Hulton in 2006 and Gill this year - both got thanked by being shown the door when they lost the first round of playoffs.
Perhaps because winning is so rare around this hockey team, successful coaches only manage to inflate other people's expectations. One wonders if their success ultimately leads to their own demise.
McFarland won't worry about that for now. "I want to start preparing for the year today," he said. To that end, selecting his assistant coaches is the first order of business.
"I'm slowly working through the process," he said, again suggesting he's been the heir apparent for more than a couple of days. "As a head coach the most important thing is my assistants. I'm going to take my time and make sure the people that we do bring in are the right people.
"I would like to get it done sooner rather than later. The sooner that I can get that side of things dealt with, the sooner we can get to work."
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