What's Buzzing:

Buzzing The Net

Kingston Frontenacs ax Todd Gill, re-sign Doug Gilmour as GM after historic playoff collapse

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

View photo


The Frontenacs became the fourth OHL team to lose a series after leading 3-0 (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

History is repeating itself for the Kingston Frontenacs, which given their history, tends not to be a good omen. The Ontario Hockey League club has parted with a coach who guided his team to a regular season that represented a high-water mark by Frontenacs standards before it proved ill-equipped for the grind of the playoffs.

That could have been written in 2006, when Frontenacs owner Doug Springer, et al., discharged Jim Hulton after an 81-point season ended with a six-game first-round loss to the Sudbury Wolves. Kingston brought in Bruce Cassidy, who lasted a season and a bit. It took eight years for the club to improve on that output, tallying 84 points this season under Todd Gill. After blowing a 3-0 series lead in a first-round loss to Peterborough Petes, Gill and assistant coach Jeff Reid "were not renewed," as per the team's press release, while general manager Doug Gilmour and right-hand man Darren Keily have re-upped.

"We underachieved," Gilmour said in a phone interview. "I'm going to leave it at that. There's a reason you have to make a change."

Coincidentally, Kingston native Kirk Muller was fired Monday after three seasons behind the bench with the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes. Muller has coached in his hometown with the Queen's Golden Gaels in the Ontario University Athletics men's league. After nearly a decade in the pros, one would think Muller would cycle through many, many NHL and AHL options before considering any junior job.

The Kingston scenario reads a bit like a redux of when Hulton was let go. The Frontenacs had a bountiful priority selection crop in 2012 when it landed Central Scouting's top-ranked North American skater Sam Bennett along with defenceman Roland McKeown and dangerous right wing Spencer Watson, who will also be fairly early picks at the NHL draft in June. There was an expectation in September that all that young talent would help Kingston "challenge for a much-awaited league title. If they’re ahead of schedule this year, they might be in the mix for a couple of them." There was also a wide-open window to win this season in what many feel is a somewhat diluted OHL.

However, playoff runs are often generated by the bottom half of the roster. In the playoffs, Gill regularly shortened his bench to nine forwards and four or five defencemen throughout the series against Peterborough — which certainly helped the Petes earn their win. How much does reflects on the coach and how much is on the management side, which picked the players, is debatable.

Ultimately, some uncontrollable variables also helped seal the Frontenacs' ouster. Bennett and Watson played through injuries that kept them from joining Canada for the world under-18 championship. Peterborough goalie Andrew D'Agostini also outshone Kingston's Matt Mahalak in the series. Peterborough came in with an anticipated edge in net, based on each overage's play over the past season and a half or so. The gap was even wider than anticipated.

So basically it reads like Gilmour and Keily honed in more on the results than the process, where they should be focusing. By no means do Gill and Reid get an A-double-plus on the latter, since 'coaching up' depth players and worker bees is a big part of the job description in the OHL. (That can also come back to how a team invests in its coaching staff; see London.) Still, the club was pointed in a more positive direction than at any point since 2006.

Kingston is now looking at a 2014-15 season where it will have a lot of new faces, the possibility franchise player Sam Bennett sticks in the NHL and will have scuffed away the shiny renewal that permeated the K-Rock Centre fewer than two years ago. The hiring of Gill, installation of Gilmour as GM and the addition of some elite talent gave Kingston a veneer that it was changing its culture. An abrupt coaching change might be a portent of the same old, same old.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
View Comments (2)
  • Ecuador's players strike over $20 million salary backlog

    Players in Ecuador's top two football divisions have gone on strike over about $20 million in salaries owed to them by the clubs. Of the 24 clubs in the first and second divisions, 18 are in debt to their players over unpaid salaries this year, a … More »

    Reuters - 2 minutes 46 seconds ago
  • Panthers still perfect, Romo hurt again in 33-14 Dallas loss

    Panthers still perfect, Romo hurt again in 33-14 Dallas loss

    Cam Newton is still perfect this season. Tony Romo might be out for good with the same injury that sidelined him for seven games. Newton got a big boost from a defense that returned two of Romo's three interceptions for touchdowns, and the … More »

    AP - Sports - 7 minutes ago
  • Romo knocked out vs Carolina with another collarbone injury

    Romo knocked out vs Carolina with another collarbone injury

    Dallas quarterback Tony Romo was knocked out of the game against Carolina with an injury to the shoulder that sidelined him for seven games this season. Romo, who threw three interceptions and had two of them returned for touchdowns, stayed down in … More »

    AP - Sports - 6 minutes ago
  • 'Nova tops Stanford despite bad shooting

    'Nova tops Stanford despite bad shooting

    Villanova struggled to score and rebound on Thursday night. No. 8 Villanova compensated for offensive and rebounding struggles by forcing 23 turnovers in a 59-45 victory over Stanford in the semifinals of the NIT Season Tipoff. ''We played pretty … More »

    AP - Sports - 14 minutes ago
  • Favre lauds Rodgers before No. 4 retired

    Favre lauds Rodgers before No. 4 retired

    Brett Favre threw some kind words at the man who replaced him at quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. ''I mean that with all due respect,'' Favre said. Favre lauded Rodgers at an event for the Rawhide Boys Ranch, an organization that helps … More »

    AP - Sports - 18 minutes ago