It's Wayne's World Cashman Vows Give-and-take With Players

Posted: July 08, 1997

He spoke of trust being a two-way street, and said you develop the trust of young players by talking with them.

He spoke of respect and the importance of remembering that hockey players are people, too.

He said that his staff would contribute to every game plan and that there would be a bond among his players.

The new era of Flyers hockey began officially yesterday afternoon when Wayne Cashman was introduced at the CoreStates Center as the successor to coach Terry Murray, who was let go June 13.

``Commitment is not something I'm going to ask for'' from players, Cashman said. ``It's something I expect. They will be committed to each other. They won't play for the coach; they will play for each other.''

Cashman, who turned 52 recently, said his biggest asset was the ability to communicate. General manager Bob Clarke has said that communication broke down precipitously under Murray last season.

Hailed by former and present players as a man who works well with young players, which the Flyers have, the former Boston Bruin said communication wasn't a special talent of his, just something he learned as the second eldest of 10 children growing up in Kingston,

Ontario.

``A lot of that comes from being in a family of 10,'' Cashman said. ``You learn how to work with people, live with people, encourage people.''

Cashman said the skills he developed as a child in dealing with his brothers and sisters enabled him to communicate easily and develop strong bonds with his teammates when coach Don Cherry named him the Bruins' captain in 1977.

``[Cherry] said you were responsible for your players - how they played, what the team was about,'' Cashman recalled. ``All that grooming Don Cherry did was to benefit me today.''

Clarke said there had been only two candidates for the job - Cashman and Flyers assistant Keith Acton, who yesterday was promoted to associate coach and given a greater voice in decision-making.

Clarke said Cashman got the nod over Acton based on having ``much more experience.'' Cashman has been an assistant coach for 10 seasons in the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay and San Jose organizations. Acton had been one for three years, all with the Flyers.

Clarke also said that Phantoms coach Bill Barber wasn't experienced enough to be a head coach, but, like Acton, someday would be.

Among the criteria he used in picking Cashman, Clarke said, ``the most important was [hiring] a man the players could trust and a man who would trust the players.''

That went back to respect and communication.

``When a guy like Cashman speaks, you respect him and trust him because he's been there,'' Lightning left winger Rob Zamuner said yesterday.

Zamuner was one of Cashman's young projects when Cashman coached at Tampa Bay.

``Everyone will feel the effect Cashman has,'' he said. ``Trust and respect is a very big key with Cashman.''

Cashman emphasized that trust and respect had to be given his staff. Thus, he said, Acton and Dave Brown will have greater input in game-day preparation than before. No other assistant coaches will be hired.

``Acton will have a lot of say in making decisions,'' Cashman said, noting that he thought it was important to retain Acton and Brown because of their close relationships with the Flyers' players.

Acton said he was not upset at being passed over and was ``thrilled'' to get a chance to work with Cashman.

``I'm a young guy, and I don't have a lot of experience,'' he said. ``One day, I will be a head coach. It doesn't have to be today.''

Acton would not comment specifically on how his job would change under Cashman. What he did say spoke volumes about how little voice he had under Murray.

``The coaching staff has to rely on each other,'' Acton said. ``You don't know it all. We all have knowledge to contribute on different aspects of the game.''

Cashman got a three-year contract. His agent, Phil Hoffman, would not disclose the financial terms but said the deal was loaded with achievable incentives. It is believed that those incentives would push the contract value to $1 million overall.

Cashman emphasized several times the importance of having an open dialogue with his players - something the Flyers said didn't exist under Murray.

``Players ask questions nowadays, just like people,'' Cashman said. ``They like answers. You have to keep an open line with your players.''

(After the news conference, Cashman phoned team captain Eric Lindros and goalie Ron Hextall to introduce himself and tell both that his door was always open.)

Asked about the pressure of taking over a team that got to the Stanley Cup finals this year and then saw its coach fired, Cashman said he didn't feel it.

``I feel excitement,'' he said. ``I think pressure is being in an organization where you have to make the playoffs with a hockey team that isn't good enough. Here, I'm fortunate enough to get a club that I feel is capable of going back and winning the Stanley Cup.''

The first order of business, Cashman said, was for the Flyers to get back to the finals and learn from this year's disappointment - a four-game sweep by the Detroit Red Wings. He said it would be his job to make sure the Flyers understand the difference between getting to the finals and winning there.

``First, you have to give yourself the opportunity to win the Cup,'' he said. ``It's hard enough to get there, even harder to win it. This year, I thought Detroit got there and they were prepared. It's a great learning experience for the Flyers, and that is what we'll use it as.''

Cashman made it clear that he thinks of himself as a motivator - something that Terry O'Reilly, a former Bruins teammate, emphasized over the weekend.

``It's the coaches' responsibility to make sure players are motivated,'' Cashman said. ``You treat players the same as the team and not as individuals. That is part of communication with your players.''

Communicating with Lindros will be essential if the Flyers are to win the Cup. Murray had a poor relationship with the captain.

Cashman called Lindros a ``tremendous player and athlete.''

``He is a special person,'' Cashman said. ``You don't see many players like that. A Gordie Howe, a Bobby Orr, a Mark Messier and Lindros. The way they have that look in their eyes. That intensity level. He has it.''

The Flyers are hoping Wayne Cashman has it as well.

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