Steve Duffy was recently tapped as the new Head Coach of the Boston Cannons, and while some people may be scratching their heads and asking “who?“, I actually think this could be a perfect hire for the 2011 MLL Champions. Steve Duffy is a top notch local guy who takes over from Billy Daye, who had been with the team as its Head Coach since 2006.
The first reason that I like this move is that it follows in the footsteps Boston has been laying down to groom Head Coaches from within their organization, which clearly paid off with year over year improvements as well as an MLL Championship last year. Billy Daye had been an assistant in 2005 to Scott Hiller before he took over as the HC in 2006. And Hiller had been an assistant in 2001 they year before he took over in 2002. Duffy has been with the team as an assistant since 2009 and is now taking over the team.
This approach by the Cannons regarding the hiring of coaches and the coaching ladder works for a couple of reasons. 1) When a new HC comes in, the players know and respect the Head Coach because he’s been with the team already. 2) If the coach isn’t working out within the team structure, the Cannons won’t hire him. 3) There is no period of time required to transfer knowledge. 4) Consistency and direction are maintained in a league where either can be very hard to come by.
Now, obviously you can’t just hire ANY assistant, and expect continued success. That would be ridiculous. But if they really think Duffy is the real deal, then this was definitely the best way to do it. If they brought Duffy in cold, without any experience, it could be a disaster. He’d need to find new assistants, come up with his own team plan from scratch, get to know the players, etc, etc. But for a guy like Duffy, who has a lot of High School coaching experience, but not much higher level coaching, his role as an assistant gave him some time to adjust and prove himself as a higher level coach. It also allowed him to slowly gain the respect of the players on the team. This experience and familiarity is invaluable to him and the organization as whole. Combine that with the fact that the front office is comfortable with him and it’s a recipe for success.
Another really solid aspect of this hire is that Duffy is a local guy. He coached Waltham High School’s team for years, and was involved with lacrosse in a number of other ways as well. Boston does a great job of using local players (like Mike Stone), they have often hired coaches who lived in the area, and now they’re also doing a great job of using locally bred coaches. Massachusetts might not produce the “big name guys” like Long Island or Baltimore, but in the Boston area being local counts as much or more than being famous. The Cannons played to the local values with this hire… and it’s genius.
Finally, I like the Duffy hire because I played for the guy, and I know how awesome he is first hand. Back when I was in high school (late 90s), Duffy was the coach of the Metro Lacrosse team for the Bay State Games. The Metro had long been the worst region in the Bay State games, and often lost games by HUGE margins each Summer when it came to lax, but in our first year under Duffy we were competitive with everyone, and in our second year (under my HS coach, John Lewis) we even won a game or two! Not only did he attract good players, but Duffy also inspired the guys to play hard, play together, and care about the games. He also attracted good assistant coaches, and knew when to let them do their thing, and when he should take the lead.
Overall, the Steve Duffy hire by the Cannons is a fantastic move. They hired a local guy (which is important in Boston) who knows the game and knows the region. They hired a guy who already knows how the team runs. They hired a guy who will be EXCITED to be an MLL Head Coach. And they hired a guy who can lead the team to future success.
In this day and age of the MLL, I’ll take that over some big name hire any day. Tip of the hat to Matt Dwyer and the entire Boston Cannons organization for this move. And best of luck to Coach Duffy from a former Bay State Games player!
Main photo courtesy LaxMagazine