SUN Hockey Pool

Fired coaches find TV lifeline

IAN BUSBY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

The broadcast booth has turned into the unemployment line for coaches across the major sports.

So when Craig MacTavish joined TSN this week, the former Edmonton Oilers coach said what everyone must have been thinking.

"I appreciate TSN providing a safe haven for unemployed coaches, as we rehabilitate ourselves towards future employability," MacTavish said.

That announcement came at almost the same time Guy Carbonneau was unveiled as an analyst on CBC telecasts.

While MacTavish's motivation is obvious, there are other coaches who catch the bug and don't go back.

Before they were at CBC, Don Cherry and Harry Neale were behind benches. And hardly anybody remembers that John Madden won the Super Bowl as the Oakland Raiders coach.

There must be an appeal to being around the game and not having to endure the roller-coaster of wins and losses.

But the new trend seems to be coaches stepping from the sidelines into the studio on short-term stints because they are still looking to get back in the game.

It's a good way to audition for work: Articulate thoughts as to why a system or player isn't working and come up with a solution.

TSN analyst Pierre McGuire argues that coaches can better themselves by taking a turn at broadcasting. He should know. The former NHL coach and two-time Stanley Cup winner has developed into one of the most influential hockey people around.

"It's an opportunity to grow yourself if you choose to work at it. You can make yourself better in a hurry," McGuire said.

"The wisest guys, they get into this and really try to learn.

"What it allows you to do is get unfettered access to virtually all 30 teams. It gives you an opportunity to see what teams do right and what team don't do right. You can evaluate coaches and their systems and that helps you grow yourself and your mental knowledge."

McGuire has declined opportunities to get back into coaching over the years, but he would leave broadcasting for the right situation.

Not every coach becomes a great analyst, but often it works out when they aren't removed from the game too long.

Jon Gruden just debuted on Monday Night Football as the third man in the booth, and his knowledge of current schemes makes him entertaining.

When MacTavish joins the TSN panel, one of the people he will debate with is Peter Laviolette, the coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, who knocked MacT's Oilers out of the 2006 Stanley Cup final.

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