The head coach position in all professional sports is a pretty stressful job. Considering that most of the people that you are in charge of make five to six times more money than you, coaches are the ones who are often slightly more than well-paid daycare providers for the spoiled children of the franchise.
It is often a thankless middle-management position that serves as a liaison between ownership and player.
Take Reggie Dunlop, for example. He holds the unique position of player-coach for the Charlestown Chiefs of the Federal League. With the impending closure of his local mill and the contraction of the Chiefs a certainty, Dunlop employs a goon-first mentality that drives up attendance and generates intense fan interest.
Although Dunlop's intentions are mostly selfless and pure, his efforts are for naught, as the owner of the Chiefs says he is folding the team as a tax write-off.
Dunlop convinces the rest of the Chiefs to play his final game straight—"old time hockey." After taking a restaurant-quality beatdown in the first period, the Chiefs resort to their old tactics and brawl with the old nemesis Syracuse Bulldogs.
While art can often imitate life, the absurdity of the movie Slapshot still has some legitimate moments that are very real in the world of hockey. The coach, for better or worse, is the face of the franchise and more often than not is the voice. The players on the team are subject to the "system" or the style of play that the coach chooses to employ.
Reggie Dunlop won't go down in the annals of hockey as one of the greatest coaches, but his motivating tactics and leather suit are beyond reproach. In the real world of NHL head coaches, here are 25 of the greatest big-game, pressure coaches in league history.