Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Can Michel Therrien discipline P.K. Subban?

An aside about discipline, a word which has a negative connotation.  It's interesting that the root is the same as the root for disciples.  In effect, what discipline means is to teach someone or lead someone so that they follow.  A superior took the time to explain that to me once, that you're not yelling at someone or hating on them, you're telling them "Follow me," and it stuck with me.  When I was in a position to enforce rules on a subordinate, in effect to discipline him or her, I would keep that in the back of my mind, that I'm not punishing someone, I'm teaching them, clarifying rules and situations, so they can follow rules and leadership and be better team members.

Another thing which I was taught which is very useful is that when disciplining someone, you approach the incident with an open mind, and ask lots of questions and are very curious.  I know a lot of you guys and girls work in large corporations or teams and have leadership positions, you've probably gone into disciplinary interviews thinking you might have to fire someone and then when you learned all the facts at hand it gave you a completely different view of how to handle things.

So when an employee breaches rules and ticks you off, it's good to remember that you're trying to teach a valuable employee how to be a better employee, and to keep an open mind, be curious, ask lots of questions.  Keep emotion out of it.  If you have to mete out strong discipline (suspension) or even fire the employee, you do so without anger, and you allow the employee to retain his dignity and self-respect.

Michel Therrien has a well-deserved reputation as a hothead, but we can hope he has mellowed over the years.  I do remember him being critical of certain players on l'Antichambre, P.K. Subban being one of them, but I mostly felt that his frustration was with the coaching régime which allowed him to get away with some of his, uh, highjinks.  He implied that if he were running things, they would be handled differently.  We can hope that with all the support he'll have from management, he won't go on any campaigns against any players.  Guys like Rick Dudley and Marc Bergevin and Gerard Gallant will be valuable sounding boards.

One hopeful thing about Mr. Therrien, if we're to judge him on his Antichambre reputation, is that he'd caution the rest of the panel constantly, when they'd go off on a player and wanted to run him out of town, that to get rid of a player was the easiest thing to do.  The hardest thing, he would repeat, is to find players, so when you have a player, you're patient with him, you coach and coach some more, and repeat yourself constantly.  Michel Bergeron would grumble but agree, and he would chime in that this was essentially a coach's job, to say something, then repeat it, then repeat it the next day, and not get frustrated about repeating yourself day after day.  Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz had a shtick he used to do where he'd talk to players about doing something one way, or running a drill one way, and when it would finally happen, days or weeks or months later, he would pull his 'famous fainting act' as his players called it, and drop to the turf, stunned that they'd finally gotten it.

So while I'm far from being a fan or booster of Michel Therrien, there are signs that he gets it, and that if he does 'discipline' P.K., he'll be doing so out of a desire to see him succeed, rather than just out of a disdain for him and to run him out of town.

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