Jim Kelley is a Hall of Fame hockey writer and person who recently made the sort of lazy move that used to give me chest pains when I was on the PR side. In a recent column on SI.com, the former Buffalo News reporter wrote the following sentence on the Islanders:
"It's the kind of place where experienced coaches like Joel Quennvelle, John Tortotella, Bob Hartley, Maurice, Marc Crawford and a slew of other seasoned but currently unemployed coaches don't necessarily object to being passed over."
The laziness has nothing to do with the typos/spelling errors on two big-name NHL coaches. The bigger problem is, does Kelley really know that all of these coaches ho-hummed not getting the Islanders job? Did he ask them? Did he think about checking with them – at least off-the-record – before telling a big audience on Sports Illustrated’s website that they’d rather be unemployed than work for the Islanders?
I really doubt it. The line reads like the kind of throw-away journalism a hockey writer might post from the beach on August 14th. That’s too bad because, beyond the Islanders’ image, Jim may have inadvertently made some respected coaches in need of work look like reckless idiots.
What we do know is that Quenneville gracefully declined an invitation to interview. Tortorella, being paid over a mill by Tampa Bay this year not to coach, came in for a lengthy interview but both parties knew this wasn’t the time or the team.
But what about Bob Hartley? Is Jim Kelley certain he “didn’t necessarily object to being passed over.” How about Paul Maurice? Are we really to believe it was no big whoop to Maurice he didn’t get the gig? You really think Marc Crawford is not the least bit concerned about getting another shot at a head coaching job in the NHL?
Here’s a challenge to my friend Mr. Kelley. The cell numbers of all the coaches he named can be easily obtained by a veteran writer of his stature. Call up Tortorella, Hartley, Maurice and Crawford. Give them the chance (on-the-record only) to share their thoughts on the Islanders’ hiring process. Perhaps they will confirm that they didn’t give much of a hoot about not getting the job.
It’s late August. There aren’t a lot of hockey stories right now. Jim Kelley’s one of the classier men in the business. I have a feeling he’d make a real good column out of his findings.