Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Noel's Hitchcockian ways scare them good

  • Print

Claude Noel learned a lot about coaching from the notoriously tyrannical Ken Hitchcock and this week the pupil once again channelled the master to get positive results.

Noel got grouchy after watching his Jets waltz to three straight losses and vented his displeasure at just about every available opportunity. His message got across.

Monday night's 2-1 win over the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins, the first in the team's new history in Winnipeg, was all about work and smart play. Noel needed to push buttons and he found the right ones.

Noel worked his troops over in the dressing room and then backed it up with snide remarks in the press after watching the Jets break out to an uninspired 0-3 mark.

"I'm not sure what it is we're waiting for right now. It looks like our team thinks we have a free pass to fail. I'm not sure what the wake-up call is," Noel said following the loss in Phoenix Saturday.

"We've got a franchise that's not used to winning, and it shows. This group has gone into a market that is frenzied for winning, and they've decided that this is what they're going to show them."

Prior to Monday's match with the Penguins, the coach was asked what he'd like to see from his team.

"Urgency," was his answer, and that's what he got, as the Jets went out and played their best game of the season, featuring will and hard work previously unseen.

Noel has said in the past, early in his head coaching days, he leaned too much on Hitchcock's ways before realizing he had to have his own style. Fine, Claude, do it your way, but maybe a little Hitch now and then isn't a bad thing.

This young Jets group has yet to find its way in the jungle that is the NHL, where guts and grind will often outdo talent and skill.

They like to fly around the ice and make pretty plays. They also have a tendency to spill the puck in the transition areas and then stand around watching while the opponent zips down the ice to pick apart defenceless goalies.

Squeezing that out of their game by any means imaginable is Noel's task. He's tried cuddly and now he's tried cruel. Cruel worked. Cuddly? They haven't earned that yet.

There's a fine line, of course, and Noel, must determine what is the right balance.

Whipping a horse from post to post will just result in a whipped horse.

Noel often states coaching is like parenting. The parent must discipline when required and praise if it's deserved.

At 1-3, there's no need to break out the gold stars, and now Noel must find a way to build on what he saw Monday.

Reinforcing what resulted in a win and not letting his young team slip back into the habits that resulted in defeat.

Teams must earn a coach's easy side and Noel may have erred in judgment early on by letting a few things slide. This group isn't ready for that much rope and Noel will need to stay on them.

After last night's game, the coach was unsure if he'd continue with his heavy hand. "We'll see how this works in the next game. If things don't go well, they'll see a side of me they don't normally see -- the gloves will come off." Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 18, 2011 C3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Selinger addresses stadium lawsuit

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • MIKE APORIUS/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS BUSINESS - cow on farm owned by cattle farmer Lloyd Buchanan near Argyle Wednesday afternoon -see Larry Kusch's story  January 04/2006
  • An American White Pelican takes flight from the banks of the Red River in Lockport, MB. A group of pelicans is referred to as a ‘pod’ and the American White Pelican is the only pelican species to have a horn on its bill. May 16, 2012. SARAH O. SWENSON / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.


Are you concerned about the number of homicides so far this year?

View Results

Ads by Google