Posted 08 April 2013 - 08:44 PM
Terrible move by the Lancers. Aikens is a very good coach, especially at this level. He's a good teacher, he knows how to communicate with players, and he has an eye for talent. There were some small things I would liked to have seen different-strategy wise, but you can make any system work if you have the right tools. Aikens knows how to coach at high level and didn't deserve this. Ironically, his first and last games as the Lancers' head coach were wins against Lincoln.
Aikens simply had several awful circumstances come together all at once this season. The biggest issue was that he had almost no talent coming back from last season. The talent level dropped badly under Bliss. The Lancers had some really skilled players last year, but they were one and done guys. Bliss went with an older team. However, it was Aikens that turned that team around. Without him, this would've happened last season, but it would've been so much worse.
This season, it took months to get a team that could compete. Aikens drafted better talent; it was just too young to carry the entire team early on. You need your vets to lead the team, and his were just flat out bad. He made some awesome moves that helped immediately, but several key injuries and losing Everson set the team back a lot.Having a younger team was made even worse with an eight game road stand to start the season. The team lost some standings points that they probably would've gained had they had some home games. And with the new arena, it took several games to develop a true home ice advantage. Coach also had to deal with giving up home ice advantage for the outdoor game which turned out to be a huge divisional game.
With all the adversity Aikens was dealt, this happened to be the one year the league cut down the playoff field. Any other year, including next, the Lancers are in. This factor alone is why he deserves at least one more year. The Lancers weren't a bottom feeder. They had a really good record against the playoff teams. They just had some utrouble playing with that same effort against the lower teams in the division, as a young team often does.
Thank you Coach Aikens for saving last year's team, winning a lot of games, and representing the organization so well. I don't think I've seen a coach as proud to have their job as Aiks always was. He was always so honest and open with fans and media that I would often do a double take at what he was saying. There was never any coach speak from Aikens, and I appreciated that a lot. I also want to thank Aikens for the performance in the outdoor game, one of my most favorite hockey memories. I'm really going to miss him. Hopefully he gets an even better job. I was always very proud to see him behind the Lancers' bench.