The Ottawa Senators have drawn rather controversial attention after a video was leaked of seven of the team’s athletes bad-mouthing the assistant coach and overall organizational structure during an Uber ride in Phoenix. James Sparklin, a now former Uber driver of two and a half years, picked up Matt Duchene, Thomas Chabot, Alex Formenton, Dylan DeMelo, Colin White, Chris Tierney, and Chris Wideman the night before their October 30th game against the Arizona Coyotes.
Sparklin had a camera recording from the rearview mirror at the front of SUV, which he claimed was installed for his own protection should any incidents arise from his high-profile and overfilled ride that evening. However, none of the athletes appeared to be aware that their comments would be recorded, let alone publicized shortly after.
The bulk of the comments made by the Sens’ athletes were in reference to the quality of coaching led by assistant coach Martin Raymond. Wideman shared that Raymond doesn’t actually teach anything, but rather just commentates on what is happening during their video-watching sessions. Duchene boldly stated that Raymond was “the only coach in NHL history to have the worst power-play and the worst PK within a calendar year”, before adding that he hadn’t paid attention during a meeting in weeks.
While the confidentiality issue within the Uber drive itself is cause for concern, the separate issue of cohesion and unity within the Senators organization is something that should be addressed in order to move forward and achieve any success this season.
An article by Jowett and Chaundy shared that the direct perspective of an athletes’ relationship with their coach as well as the interactive relationship between an athlete and their coach are both significant in determining cohesion. Coaches are the members of the organization that are responsible for providing guidance and mentorship, and the lack to effectively do so can evidently result in minimal support back from their athletes. The direct perspective of the athletes’ relationship with their coach predicted task cohesion whereas the interactive relationship predicted social cohesion. The study conducted in the article concluded that leadership behaviour, and how it is perceived by the athletes, is most influential in task cohesion, but also contributes to social cohesion. The style of coaching that Raymond exhibits, according to Duchene, clearly counters this and may be the faulty piece to the Senators’ puzzle.
So, is this on the coaches or players? Sure, the seven gentlemen in the Uber that evening were disrespectful and deviant from their role to conform to the staff of the Senators organization, but those opinions had to have come from somewhere.