Welcome back to Part 3 of our Everett Silvertips postseason wrap-up here on the blog.
You can check out Part 1 here that attempts to put the season in perspective.
You can check out Part 2 here that discusses the departing overagers.
Today we’ll look at the 2016-17 season from the coaching perspective. This is quite intriguing because it’s the least settled aspect going forward.
Head coach Kevin Constantine last week did not have his contract renewed, and over the weekend Brennan Sonne officially took a job as a head coach in France’s top pro league. That leaves assistant Mitch Love as the only remaining behind-the-bench staffer remaining with the organization at this point.
We’ve covered all of that in numerous ways and you can read the links if you’re so inclined, but rather than rehashing it we’ll look at the job the coaching staff did this past season.
Quite frankly the coaching job turned in by Constantine and his staff couldn’t have been much better. It’s well-documented that the Tips had one of the youngest and smallest teams in the WHL and very little was expected of the group coming into the season. Some thought the Tips would struggle to make the playoffs and might be “sellers” at the trade deadline (Just think about the return they could have received for captain Noah Juulsen).
Instead the Tips got off to an incredible start and piled up signature wins throughout the season against the likes of Prince George, Kelowna, Medicine Hat and Regina. Everett did so despite once again being a middling offensive team – albeit one that was improved over the 2015-16 team.
The Tips went on to win their fifth division title and reach 100 standings points for just the second time in franchise history. Constantine was robbed of the Western Conference Coach of the Year Award (Seattle’s Steve Konowalchuk also had a legitimate case) that inexplicably went to Portland’s Mike Johnston who coached his team to a seventh-place finish in his return to the Winterhawks bench.
I don’t know if there is another coach as good as Constantine at utilizing his team’s compete level and work ethic to overcome a disparity in size and skill. If you give Constantine a chance to prepare his team for one game he will come up with a strategy that wins most of the time. Of course things change dramatically in the postseason when teams play a seven-game series, as evidenced in the second round sweep by a Seattle team that gave Everett fits for much of the regular season.
Sonne coached the power play that spent much of the regular season among the top 10 in the league while Love and Constantine headed up the league’s top penalty kill. General manager Garry Davidson expressed the desire for continuity and figures to make a strong push to retain Love when the team announces a new head coach, presumably sometime in May following the bantam draft.
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