This is Vic Stasiuk in his late 20s while a member of the Boston Bruins. He was best known as a member of Boston’s famous Uke Like (with Johnny Bucyk and Bronco Horvath) but he also won a Stanley or two (actually he played on three teams that won it all) and had an interesting career in coaching.
Stasiuk’s transition from player to coach began in 63-64 when he was named player-coach of the Pittsburgh Hornets (AHL). He dropped down to Double A (CPHL-Memphis) after that and gained a reputation of being a tough, hard nosed leader who demanded all out effort from his players.
“When I was younger I read constantly about hockey and always listened to my coaches. I retained the same attitude when I became a coach,” Stasiuk said in 1972. “A coach cannot mix with players on a personal basis. He isn’t supposed to rationalize or share their misery, because they are searching for reassurance from someone who will tell them that they will not make the same mistakes again in the next game. A coach cannot be one of the boys.”
He was named head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers on May 19, 1969. The Flyers kicked Keith Allen up to the GM slot and moved in Stasiuk in hopes of instilling a little more toughness in the club. He lasted until the conclusion of the 70-71 season (They lost out to Oakland for the final playoff spot in 1970, and then were swept by the Hawks in 1971). His toughness didn’t win more games and it didn’t sit too well with the players.
“The news came as a surprise to me. Sure I had a difference of opinion with a couple of players on the team, but that isn’t unusual. I regard that as a normal pattern of coaching and playing. Actually I wasn’t fired. I was told I was being moved into the Flyers’ new computerized scouting system.”
I was thinking about Vic Stasiuk today when I read this from the NY Post’s Larry Brooks: THIS was at practice during the latter stages of last season, after the championship core of Devils had become skeptical that Claude Julien possessed either the inner core of toughness or independence from Mayor-Judge-Town Sheriff-Inn Keeper Lou Lamoriello to lead the team to a Stanley Cup. With Lamoriello attending to administrative duties and therefore absent from his usual perch at the rink, one of the veterans intentionally shot a puck at Julien during a drill to test how the coach would respond. The story goes that when Julien refused to confront the athlete or even acknowledge the overt act of disrespect, the players concluded that the head coach would have to go, and essentially fired him.
Neither story is Lenny Randle vs. Frank Lucchesi, but they are interesting all the same.