Give The Man A Chance?

The majority of the talk of Titans Nation over the past few days has been surrounding the future of head coach Vince Williams, who has come under fire after his team has lost four out of its last five.

Williams, a second year head coach who served as an assistant under both Rick Kowalsky and Kevin Dean, led Trenton to a franchise-worst 21-41-4-6 record in 2011-12, his first season as bench boss.

Franchise-worst record last year?  Losing streak this year?  So sure, it makes sense that there might be some talk about his job security already.  Absolutely.  But get rid of the guy?  Absolutely not.

I think that for the most part, everyone has thrown out last season.  The team had about two months to piece together a roster, essentially finding “the best of the rest,” from a group of leftovers that hadn’t already signed with other teams.  While an admirable job was done to some extent, call-ups and injuries to valuable players left the team trotting out some guys who had zero business playing at this level on a nightly basis, which was further compounded by a truly unimpressive goalie duo and small free agent base in which to upgrade.

The slogan wasn’t: “Hey, we got hockey back in the capital city this year, but we’re probably going to suck,” but…it might as well have been.  It was a bad season.  It was always going to be a bad season.  Anyone holding that against Vince Williams or anyone else is, in my opinion, misguided.

There are then those who hold Williams accountable in some form for the last few seasons of nightmares under both Trenton regimes.  And sure, he deserves some of the blame for that, absolutely.  But a lot of the blame could easily be placed on the Devils organization as well, given their unwillingness and inability to open their pocketbooks to support a franchise that they owned at the time.  Williams and company were doing the best with what they had, which wasn’t always a lot and wasn’t always their fault.

Things got off to a good start this year, and for all the detractors for Williams that have made themselves visible now, there was absolutely nobody giving him any of the credit for the first four games worth of success.  It doesn’t work like that, folks.  You can’t just ignore the winning and only place blame for the losing.

However…

If Williams can’t win with this group, you could make an argument that he might not be able to win at this level.  Vince is a good guy, he really is.  If you got to know him a little bit and see everything he has to deal with on a daily basis, you’d see that…and I’m fortunate enough to have the access to where I can get that kind of perspective that others cannot.  I genuinely believe Williams is a good hockey man and can be successful.

But there are legitimate concerns when a team isn’t winning and consistently fails to do so.  4-0 sounds great.  5-4 isn’t as fantastic, especially when the last two losses come against a team they’ll play a total of 15 times this season.  Still a winning record, however.   And there are NO questions about talent this season.  This will likely be the best team he’s given.  But, at the same time, the talent level around the league as a whole has also gone way up.

And you could make an argument that the lockout spared the Titans from another tough year from a recruitment standpoint…I think there were a handful of guys brought into camp who did not deserve a second chance or should have been asked to move along entirely.  That would have fallen on Williams…just as the reasoning that the team didn’t have enough to put together anything worthwhile last year is valid, so is it that Williams’ role in recruitment would have come into question were several of those players to have made the team.  Replace Marcel Noebels, Blake Kessel and Jason Akeson with Matt Germain, Derrick Pallis and Mark Armstrong and…well, you tell me what you think happens.

In any event, with the group Williams currently has under his control, it’s all about execution.  The talent is there, it’s about executing the system that’s in place, a system that many people take issue with to begin with.  It’s also a system that was perfect for the first four games of the season without credit, but now one that seems to have shown some cracks as of late to much pereceived fault.  Regardless, it’s about adjustments to the system and execution of that.

And if that doesn’t happen, perhaps a change is in order.  And not necessarily behind the bench, either.  There is certainly no shortage of available players this year, and for anyone thinking that Williams is on the chopping block…well, it’ll most likely be a bevy of roster moves before anything happens with the coach.

And that’s assuming anything should happen to the coach anyway…

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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2 Responses to “Give The Man A Chance?”

  1. Benni Hanna Says:

    Mike,

    Who knows why the first five games went so well. Could it have been because the competition was weak and perhaps those teams were finding their ways as well? Let”s face it, they didn’t exactly have a gauntlet to run throw so far and the good teams they’ve faced (Cincy) have beaten.

    No one is suggesting they should dump Vince now. I think a growing consensus is that he’e overmatched as evidenced by the lethargic and disorganized play against Reading recently.

    I think those fans supporting him are still in love with him as a player. IMO he was an average defenseman. That certainly doesn’t qualify him to be a HC regardless of how many years he spent at Rick’s elbow.

    Can you honestly say this year you’ve seen him coaching players on the bench? How do you define a “good hockey man”?

    I’m sure he’s a good guy. However, as you well know, in sports you’re measured by wins and losses, not how many friends you have. Look at Charlie Weis’ failed tenure as an example.

    I really want to see the Titans succeed. That’s why it’s painful to watch these recent stumbles. No way should Reading dominate as they’ve done for the last two games. This weekend will tell a lot. If they don’t go at least 2-1 it may well be another long season.

  2. BOB T Says:

    Mike,

    There was one key word you used in your article…and that word was “OVERMATCHED” and as I’ve said before I liked Vince A LOT as a player in the glory days of this franchise and I don’t know him personally but I’ve heard from the people that I do know in the business that he is a good guy. That being said I don’t think Vince can “coach up” a young developing player that needs direction, I saw last year and this year, good roster or bad roster, strategical decisions, that frankly a high school coach would know what to do and he misses these things on a consistent basis, and your are seeing the same aimless. confusing play that we all saw last year and the excuse of “WE ONLY HAD 10 WEEKS TO GET THIS TEAM TOGETHER” doesn’t wash now..
    And as far as the “coaching up” aspect…this is a developmental league/team. I’ve seen guys REGRESS in a big way playing here under VW and under whatever “SYSTEM” he has….and frankly I’ve been around the game a long time and I don’t know what his “SYSTEM” is on a nightly basis..There is NO WAY this roster as comprised should lose 3 games in a row to a horrible Toledo team and a Reading team that is not as talented, but those 2 teams out worked and out thought our team… a better team…and to me that reverts back to the coach, plain and simple…
    I’m not saying FIRE VINCE WILLIAMS !! but I am concerned that I’m seeing a lot of similarity to last year, and there is NO similarity to this years roster and last years….
    And I’ll tell you something else, I know Paul Holmgren has bigger fish to fry right now, but if he was watching whats going on right now, I don’t think he’d be happy and I was kind of surprised this being a Flyers affiliate that the Flyers didn’t bring their own guy in here instead of VW a Devils/Kowalsky disciple….but I get that, Rich probably convinced the Flyers that VW didn’t get a fair shake last year and deserved a chance…I get that…and I’m not even going to go there with how this is a FLYERS affiliation and each night there are as many Devils contracted players dressed as Flyers players…..

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