After getting bitch-slapped by the Capitals 7-1 on Monday, the Leafs coach put his team through one of his legendary "bag skate" practices on Wednesday. No drills. No passing, no shooting. Just skating. And skating. And skating. And more skating. You know the scene in "Miracle" when Herb Brooks forces team USA to repeatedly do "herbies"? It's like that.
Bates Battaglia, who was in Carolina for a few years, suffered a couple "bag skates" under Maurice's watch.
"I've done that many times," said Bates Battaglia, who spent six years in Carolina playing for Maurice. "I've seen a few of those drills before."I wrote about this a few months ago, but here's the recap:
In December 2001, the Hurricanes were struggling and were on the outside of the potential playoff bubble. After a few consecutive sloppy losses, a furious Maurice put his team through the rigorous "bag skate". After the session, the team snapped into place, went on a winning streak, won their division, and ultimately made a Cinderalla run all the way to the Stanley Cup Finals.
At the tail end of the 2002-03 season, with the Canes out of the playoffs, Maruice again put the boys through a "skating only" practice. Instead of being a wake-up call, it created more problems than there already were. After the bag skate, Carolina won just six of their last 26 games. Jeff O'Neill had a highly publicized shouting match with Chariman Mo that day, and he (O'Neill) was never the same after that. He went from being a hero, a fan favorite to being a chump on and off the ice and a pariah. Maurice never regained control of the team, and he lost his job here early in the 2003-04 season. O'Neill never regained his form, and was traded to the Leafs. Apparently, the two buried the hatchet last season, but O'Neill is nowhere to be found this year.
How will the Leafs respond?