Guy Boucher didn't want to leave anything to chance when he was hired as head coach of the Ottawa Senators.
While systems, line combinations and getting through to his players were going to be among the obvious keys to success, he also looked at the locker-room setup with an eye towards getting even more out of his team.
"I'm a big fan of intangibles because intangibles are what make you win and lose," said Boucher, who got Ottawa to within a game of reaching the Stanley Cup final last spring in his first year in charge. "The relationships, chemistry and leadership — that's what I base my decisions on where the guys are sitting."
Boucher moved a number of players around in the dressing room, with age, background, language, position and personality all taken into consideration when assigning stalls.
"I try to make the room as inclined as possible to push the best relationships possible, which in turn will help us succeed," Boucher continued. "I spend a long, long time figuring out what I would like."
The approach varies from team to team, but a level of thought goes into every locker-room, from who sits where to what message is plastered on the wall.
In Vancouver, the Canucks' room is on one side of a busy hallway, while the gym and offices are on the other.
Rookie head coach Travis Green had retractable dividers installed in the bowels of Rogers Arena over the summer in hopes of getting more privacy for players, who used to have to pass media members or anyone else lingering in the corridor on their way to a meeting or a workout.
"I demand and want a lot of attention to detail," said Green, who played 14 NHL seasons. "As a player, if there's other distractions around and you're watching video, it might sound silly, but sometimes you're just not focused.
"That little detail matters."
Green made more subtle changes inside the main locker-room, with pictures of past greats like Trevor Linden, Pavel Bure, Stan Smyl and Kirk McLean now featured prominently along with like words "preparation" and "accountability."
But unlike Boucher, Green won't rearrange where players sit.
"I'm not going to come in and start pushing guys around the room," said Green. "There's a fine line between coaching and over-coaching."
In Calgary, head coach Glenn Gulutzan said he mostly leaves the setup to the Flames' equipment manager, but added that where young players find themselves is important.
"It's good to sit them beside veteran guys," said Gulutzan. "They can learn a little bit by osmosis."
Canucks forward Daniel Sedin said being placed close to Markus Naslund, a fellow Swede, when he and twin brother Henrik first came into the league was a big plus.
"It was important," Daniel Sedin recalled. "A lot of questions, a lot of language things.
"When a young guy is sitting next to an older guy, he can pick up a lot."
Where a player is positioned can also relate to expectations — even if they're new to a team.
The Montreal Canadiens acquired flashy forward Jonathan Drouin in the off-season, immediately placing him next to Brendan Gallagher, an alternate captain, and two spots away from captain Max Pacioretty.
"There are things I've learned from year to year just from being around good leaders and guys that have been in that role," said Gallagher, who was moved from the fringes of the Habs' room to a more prominent spot a couple seasons ago. "There are things you don't think about your first years that you're more conscious of later on."
Where a player is situated can also be eye-opening for different reasons. Canucks defenceman Michael Del Zotto sat next to former NHL bad boy Sean Avery in his rookie year with the New York Rangers, probably sparing him some of the usual chirping among teammates.
"Every day was quite interesting. You didn't know what you were going to get," said Del Zotto. "It was pretty entertaining. Being beside him was nice because you're safe."
Teams will often set forwards up on one side of the locker-room and defencemen on the other.
"A lot of that's for me so I can find the people in the right spots when I'm talking to them," said Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice. "I want my captain in the same spot in the room, in the middle part.
"If there's a veteran guy that's got a certain superstition to that stall, I'll leave him there."
But he added there's always a balancing act in finding the right fit.
"Some guys are talkers and some aren't," said Maurice. "Sometimes you need a talker beside a quiet guy (and) sometimes that's the worst thing that you can do.
"I try to take care of their personalities a little bit."
— With files from Bill Beacon in Montreal, Judy Owen in Winnipeg, Donna Spencer in Calgary and Lisa Wallace in Ottawa
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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press