I've been a TV freelancer for just over ten years and have worked at 12-15 different companies. Maybe even more. That's what freelance is...you just work for different companies and different bosses. You meet/work with people for 3 months and get used to their skill set and what your bosses want. Then, you move on like a nomad or Dominic Moore to another team. Along the way, you will run into all sorts of different co-workers/bosses.
Some bosses are micro-managers. Some are laid back and you won't ever see them. Some will become your friends. Some will yell uncontrollably at you. Some are complete idiots that you wonder how the hell they got to their position. Some will become your mentors. In the end, it is the responsibility of the boss to ride the ship and get the most out of their employees. That's why they are bosses. That's why they make the big bucks.
Because TV is so interchangeable and people come in and out, you aren't going to always have the underlings that you want working for you. They could want more money or could already be on a job. Obviously, the show must go on without your favorite employees. In that case, everyone involved from management to interns, have to adjust to how each other work. If you have someone who is constantly down on themselves if they fail, you probably would be more inclined to not yell at that person ferociously and give them compliments when they do well.
If the person constantly messes up and forgets stuff to the point they don't show that much remorse, you tend to stay on top of them more. On the other hand, if you are middle management, it is your responsibility to adjust to what your boss wants. It is the key to being a decent freelancer in TV. You adjust to your bosses. In the end, it is a giant compromise for all involved. Adaptation is key.
That's why I'm a little torn between both sides when talking about happened last week with Lindy Ruff and Brad Boyes.
I know this may seem like a stretch to some, but as I've grown up, I look at athletes differently than when I was kid because I'm an adult with a job. I understand what it is like to wake up and have to please my bosses. We all have. I've seen motivation tricks. I've seen what tough love or reverse worker psychology does. I know everyone reacts differently.
Sure, they are athletes who make millions, but sometimes we forget that playing sports is like a job and these are real people. Lindy is a boss and Brad Boyes was an employee. If I were to guess the type of boss Lindy is, it is probably a no nonsense guy who yells at everyone.
Before the Sabres traded Derek Roy for Steve Ott last Monday, the talk of the town was about a small interview Brad Boyes gave to CBC about what type of coach he wanted. The topic hit Twitter like sh#t hitting the fan. Everyone was talking about. Talk shows, bloggers, journalists and anyone with a Twitter handle. I was most definitely going to write something about it when I got home from work, but lone and behold, the Sabres traded for Steve Ott. Yup, the beauty of the sports 24/7 news cycle. One story out, the other one in.
At first, I was all for crap on Lindy. As a fan, I've grown tired of Lindy's emperor like status in this town. He can never do anything wrong and for a coach who has won 5 playoff series since "No Goal", it gets tiring to hear people defend him constantly. Alas, that's probably why people got on his case. It was the opening they needed to pounce on him and feel good about themselves. The hate Lindy consensus was...
"Yes, Brad Boyes sucks. But there have been numerous players over the years that have had issues with Ruff. There has always been reporters spouting off about how the locker room isn't too happy with him without mentioning the player names. This isn't our first rodeo."
On the other hand, we are talking about Brad Boyes here. Boyes sucks. He's a guy who was already going down the tubes before got here when his scoring numbers started to dip in St. Louis. This isn't Hasek saying he hates Ted Nolan. It is a guy who is lucky to even get a NHL contract for next year. The consensus for the Ruff backers was...
"Who cares if he hates the coach. This isn't a popularity contest. He's your boss. Do as you are told."
This again goes back to my work analogy. Everyone has to adjust. You have to adapt to your environment.
I think Ruff has to realize he has a bunch of pussies in his locker room. Yes, it is harsh, but when you consider the Lucic incident, the Gomez incident, and how some players asked Jerry Sullivan once to write nicer stories about them, you are what you are...A pussy.
If my theory is correct, I don't think drilling your guys into submission is the best method to go about motivating a locker room filled with wimps. The best method would be tough love. You tell a guy he sucks, but when he does good, you give him compliments. Boyes mentions that method didn't happen so often with the Sabres. If Ruff's message has gotten stale, then something has to change, coach or players? If you keep the players, then you are saying that they are good enough and the omen is on Lindy to get the most out of them. For the record, I'd rather kill off the players than the coach. But the coach shouldn't go blameless.
I think in hockey, your coach has to be a great motivator, more so than a X's and O's guy. Hockey is about effort. It is an effort sport. You can dissect Lindy's system all you want about puck possession, two-way players and d-men pinching in, but I'm pretty sure it is the same or close to what other teams run as well. The reason why teams can change their fortune when they fire a coach has to do with having a new voice in the locker room. I doubt the Kings coach who took over mid-season last year, implemented a brand new system. I think it was all about having a new voice/motivator.
The Sabres seem to be on the path of getting rid of some of their guys. Roy, who was probably Lindy's arch nemesis when it came to employer/employee relations, is gone. So is Boyes. Maybe Thomas Vanek, who some feel isn't exactly enamored in Lindy's way, could be next.
I think what sticks out most about last week's 5-hour discussion on Twitter is that Fans/media members are getting more impatient when it comes to Lindy.
When Max and Slava Kozlov left Buffalo with comments about their hatred towards Lindy, how many fans/media members had their back? Like 2 or some girls who thought Max was cute. For crap sakes, people were acting like Boyes was some kind of martyr with the way he stood up to Ruff. The media, which used to be putty in Lindy's hands, aren't giving him as much love like they used to. I'm almost positive if the Sabres start off slow this year, a number of people are going to ride the "Fire Ruff" bandwagon.
This is what happens when the environment changes. Pegula has brought in big time expectations and fans aren't patient anymore, especially with this bunch. We don't have this sort of mindset of "Thank God! We still have Lindy" anymore like we did with Golisano.
If communication is the problem, it is not too late to change your approach.
Tom Coughlin was almost on his way out of New York in 2007 because some felt he lost the locker room with his commanding style. The player leaders (Michael Straham and Antonio Pierce) confronted him about it and asked him to just smile a little more. Don't be such a dick because you are making all the players walk around here like they are on eggshells. Coughlin adjusted and they won the Super Bowl that year. Maybe it is foolish to say that's a reason for it, but if you hear the players and Coughlin talk about it, they sure didn't downplay the change.
The pressure is on Lindy for this year more than ever before. When in crisis, you should probably change your tactics a bit if they have been failing. If this is your hockey team come October (Good luck with scoring with this bunch), you are still going to have your main core from last year here mixed in with some young kids who could take the next step. Will Lindy change? Should he have to? Does Lindy even care?
I think in the end, everyone has to adjust or someone (Ruff or the players) will be dying by their own sword.