Friday, July 25, 2003
And, here we go... Brent Hughes is talking to the RiverKings.
Not that this is a surprise. Regardless of what the Ice Bats thought they knew or felt they had to do, Hughes was not locked into anything when Jeff Greenlaw became coach. He needs a job.
As I've already said, IMO, Memphis hasn't made its pick 'cause no one's bowled them over. Robin Costa has set a standard -- get a guy like Sheds -- that no one can live up to, Hughes included (as the Memphis fans are well aware, he hasn't won a Cup).
But he's clearly the best guy on the market. His NHL experience, career record and first-hand knowledge of the league should trump any outside candidate. In a conference where five coaches (Muscutt, Inglis, Stewart, Sauter and Garber) have won championships and Indy looks to be the best returning team, a chance to get the guy with the best record in the CHL over the past two years is almost too good to be true.
Still, I wonder if it's a good idea on either side of the equation. If Hughes still wants to get to juniors or the AHL, where's that leave the Kings a year from now?
And what's he have to gain, besides the weekly paycheck? Sure, the chance to coach Don Parsons and the St. John's prospects is as plummy as it gets. But it's a no-win situation -- even if he wins.
Miss the playoffs -- which could easily happen, and could have under Sheds as well -- and Hughes does not improve his stock. A good postseason run without the Cup, and he still gets blasted by the fans (I can hear the conspiracy theories already -- though I think the Rangers faithful already used them all on Bryan Trottier). Deliver on the threepeat, and most will say he just inherited what Shedden built, with "ringers" from the Leafs.
The day before the Ice Bats called its press conference, Hughes told me, I haven't talked to Memphis at all. My loyalties are with the Ice Bats and my family is situated in Austin. There's no way I'd pick up to go to Memphis.
He had his mind changed for him.