It would appear that the ghosts that haunt the local WHL franchise are rattling their chains in the vicinity of head coach Guy Charron.
The man who runs the bench for the Kamloops Blazers is showing all the signs of a coach in despair. Yes, he has the look.
These days, in postgame discussions, he doesn’t finish sentences. He doesn’t finish thoughts. The witticisms are few and far between. He admits to being flabbergasted, frustrated and bamboozled.
He admits he doesn’t know. He says he doesn’t have any answers.
He walks away from the media with his head down, looking at who knows what, thinking about the past, pondering tomorrow. He shakes his head as he walks away and goes back into the cave (aka the dressing room). It seems there aren’t any answers in there either.
Performances of this type, which seem to take place after most home games, have been witnessed many times by those members of the media who have followed this team for more than a few seasons.
Before Charron there was Scott Ferguson and Barry Smith and Greg Hawgood and Dean Clark and Mark Ferner and . . . they all offered up the doom-and-gloom look on more than one occasion.
No, Charron is not the first head coach to stand in a hallway downstairs in the Interior Savings Centre and to shake his head in despair while the camera is rolling and to express his frustrations into the digital recorders.
If you weren’t there on Wednesday night — and thousands weren’t — you missed another one of those performances by the Blazers. They were playing the Kelowna Rockets, a team that has made its reputation as a hard hat-wearing, lunch bucket-carrying band of labourers.
The Rockets, however, have had more problems finding their game this season than Lindsay Lohan has had rediscovering her acting career.
Still, the Blazers had their moments and took a 2-1 lead into the third period. It didn’t last.
The Blazers walked into three minor penalties, two of them of the unnecessary variety and the Rockets, led by Mitchell (Dirty Harry) Callahan, scored four third-period goals, the first three on the power play, and went home with a 5-2 victory.
Charron was left to discuss things.
Such as penalties . . .
“This is such an issue,” he said. “I have no answer for it. We address it every day. We have implemented some things like fines or penalties regarding the penalties. I don’t understand it. How we can continue to take those penalties I don’t know. I’m lost for ideas.”
The Blazers take penalties as though they’re a good thing. They are the most penalized team in the WHL and yet they aren’t hard to play against. They have given opposing teams more power-play opportunities than has any other team.
Which would be fine if the Blazers could kill penalties. They can’t.
“If we are going to take those penalties our penalty killing has to be a lot better than it was,” Charron said. “Unfortunately, it failed again tonight.”
The Blazers went into this season adamant that they were going to establish an identity as a team that played hard on the road and brought that same game onto the ice at home.
It hasn’t happened, and Charron obviously is befuddled.
How, he wonders, does his team lose 8-6 and 8-1 at home, to the Portland Winterhawks and Prince George Cougars, then go into Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary and win three games — 1-0, 3-2, 3-2 — in four nights, then come home and fall behind 4-0 in the first period against the Brandon Wheat Kings, who are playing Game 6 of an eight-game road swing?
How, he wonders, does his team get outworked at home by the Rockets, a team the Blazers shouldn’t have any trouble getting excited to play against?
How, he wonders, does a team watch a 2-1 lead turn into a 4-2 deficit, primarily because of horrible penalties and terrible penalty killing, and not do anything about it?
“It’s something that needs to be changed,” Charron said. “We are going to have to find ways to get around it. it comes from the players. They know the game plan.”
Of course, the Blazers didn’t get any help from their power play, either. Forgotten in that messy third period were the two power-play opportunities they had with the score 2-2.
But that seems to be the direction in which this season is going.
Charron also said: “We had lines that were OK. But we didn’t have everybody on board again.”
For whatever reason, it seems, this team has far too many nights when it doesn’t have everyone on board, or when not everyone is reading from the same page of the game plan.
Going into tonight’s game against the Hitmen, the Blazers are the owners of an 8-8-1 record.
The numbers don’t lie.
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