Hired As Coach Of The Canadiens
When Irvin, Blake's old coach, retired as head coach of the Canadiens after the 1954-55 season, Blake was the only man really considered to replace him. Blake had the support of Frank Selke, Sr., the managing director of the Canadiens. He was officially hired on June 8, 1955. As Robert McG. Thomas, Jr. wrote in the New York Times, "But for all his acclaim as a player, no one was quite prepared for what happened when Blake, his signature fedora on his head, took his place behind the Canadien bench for the first time in 1955 and found his true calling."
One immediate problem that Blake had to face was taking charge of a team consisting of many players he had played with before his retirement. Another issue was managing former linemate Richard, who, at 35, still had a tendency to lose his temper and fight instead of do what he did best: score. Blake convinced him that he did not need to prove himself in any way but winning the Stanley Cup. This helped form Richard's legacy. In turn, Richard fully supported Blake as a coach, which influenced the entire team's attitude towards Blake.
Blake inherited a team with a good, young goalie, great scorers, and a smart defense. With this core, Blake created a dynasty and won eight Stanley Cups over the course of his 13 year coaching career. Many believe these were some of the best teams in the history of the NHL. He had the respect of his players, but used a dictatorial style of coaching and would not coddle them. While he used humor and had the ability to motivate, he also had a temper. Blake would never call out a single player by name in front of the team and embarrass them. He got everyone to play better, to push themselves. Blake put as much into coaching as his players did into playing.
- Toe Blake - Related Biography: Hockey Player Elmer Lach
- Toe Blake - Began Coaching Career
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