Colorado Avalanche: Analyzing the Rampage Firing


San Antonio Rampage head coach Dean Chynoweth has been fired as lack of player development issues surface with the AHL-affiliate to the Colorado Avalanche.

The San Antonio Rampage announced that head coach Dean Chynoweth has been relieved of his duties:

Interestingly, I had just been pondering writing an article discussing the ineffectual development process in the Colorado Avalanche’s AHL-affiliate program. My musings were inspired by an article by Eurolanche.

In the article, Eurolanche writer David Puchovsky relates his interview with Croatian winger Borna Rendulic, who spent the majority of his two North American seasons with Colorado’s AHL affiliate.

Rendulic didn’t enjoy his time in the AHL. Granted, part of that was disappointment over not making the NHL team. However, a big sticking point for him was the lack of development:

"“In the AHL, you are just playing there. You just feel nobody cares about you. Nobody cares about your development or how you are going to develop. Nobody taught me… Our coaches didn’t teach anyone.”"

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That came as a big surprise to me. When GM Joe Sakic and head coach Patrick Roy first took over the Colorado Avalanche, one of the things they talked about was how talent would be developed in the AHL. Indeed, they insisted that they AHL affiliate implement the same kind of systems as the NHL team to make transitions easier.

What’s more, coach Roy has regularly been in the habit of sending players to the AHL for development. That’s why last season’s draft pick Mikko Rantanen and last season’s trade acquisition Nikita Zadorov were sent down. Calvin Pickard was also supposed to spend more time developing with San Antonio, though injuries brought him up sooner.

Borna Rendulic added to his commentary that “too much negativity” in the organization led to players losing their confidence. That’s a huge red flag. Again, the Avalanche have been in the habit of sending players down to gain confidence.

Yet Rendulic said of the situation:

"“There were so many young players lost their confidence. They couldn’t make the play even when they are good players.“"

Borna Rendulic only spent time with the one affiliate, Colorado’s. However, he said in talking to other players from different organizations, some of them had more positive experiences.

Rendulic’s comments bring to mind some of the failed Colorado Avalanche prospects of recent years — Duncan Siemens, Joey Hishon and Sami Aittokallio. It also helps explain why Borna himself, Dennis Everberg, Rantanen and Zadorov didn’t seem to improve in their stint with the San Antonio Rampage/Lake Erie Monsters.

And now we come back to the firing of Dean Chynoweth, who had been the head coach since July 2012. The Monsters/Rampage never made the playoffs under his coaching, and that’s being touted as the initial reason for the firing.

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However, I believe it comes to that lack or player development. The Colorado Avalanche are thin in the prospect department anyway. The team can ill-afford to have its prospects mis-handled.

As of right now, there is no news of who is going to take Chynoweth’s place or if more changes will be made. In addition to a head coach, the Rampage hold the following staff:

  • Randy Ladouceur – Assistant Coach
  • Jean-Ian Filiatrault – Goaltending Coach
  • Steven Petrovek – Video Coordinator
  • Brent Woodside – Head Athletic Trainer
  • Steven Passineau – Head Equipment Manager

I’d guess the assistant coach might go, too. Additionally, coach Roy and his own goalie coach, Francois Allaire, may be looking at Jean-Ian Filiatrault with an eagle eye to ensure he’s up to snuff.

Next: 4 Avs Prospects Unlikely to Return

In any case, reading about the lack of adequate development at the AHL level suddenly clarifies many of the Colorado Avalanche’s problems. I’m relieved to hear changes are being made at that level.