There is an NHL team owned by a colleague of Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill who can teach him a lot about how to build an eventual winner.
While the team in question isn’t a winner yet, it’s the youngest team in a league that many pundits predict will be one of the better teams in the NHL for the foreseeable future.
As a follower of this team, I have seen firsthand the sheer improvements from Year 1 to what is now Year 3 in a massive reorganization and organizational overhaul. And while the Coyotes actually defeated them just a few days ago, even if they lose a few games, this team has given their fanbase plenty of optimism.
That team is the NHL’s Buffalo Sabers, and if you do a quick search on the search engines, you’ll also see that many also consider their “frighteningly good” prospect pool (virtually backups and development players) to be among the best in the league. if not the best.
So what can the Bidwills learn from the Pegula-powered franchise in western New York? Actually quite a lot.
Lesson #1 – Hire a coach with a good track record of developing young talent
Yes, that’s Bruce Arians in the picture and no, he’s not coming back to the sidelines. But Arians had a notable run with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012 with a rookie quarterback in Andrew Luck. And that 9-3 run propelled the supposedly downtrodden Colts to the playoffs and Arians to a head coaching job in the desert. Arians also helped develop quarterbacks Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. That means the cardinals have to find it her next Bruce Arians.
While it’s arguable that Kliff Kingsbury is a good candidate for coaching young talent since he coached Patrick Mahomes in college, he was never quite as successful as Sabers head coach Don Granato. The latter has gained extensive experience in developing young players throughout his coaching career.
Knowing they would be revamping their roster with young talent and occasionally interspersing veterans, the Sabers needed a coach who could turn draft picks into NHL stars. So far, Granato has saved the careers of Tage Thompson and Rasmus Dahlin, both of whom are now cornerstones of the franchise.
He has also helped revitalize veterans like Jeff Skinner and Kyle Okposo and even develops young talent like Dylan Cozens, JJ Peterka, Rasmus Asplund, Owen Power, Mattias Samuelsson and so many others.
For the Arizona Cardinals, that would mean hiring a coach who worked for a team that’s managed to build back into contenders through sheer youth. An assistant coach would fit here, or if they can find someone with previous experience as a head coach then that’s an added bonus. Like I said, you have to find it her next Bruce Arians.