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Pins & Needles

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Comments & Thoughts
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Some may have been wondering where I’ve been for the past few weeks, and why the post consistency has decreased.  I’ve been heavily involved in taking the ice down and re-installing it at our local rink.  This weekend I’m actually up in Minnesota watching an NAHL tryout.  As I sit in the lobby observing about a hundred kids coming in (some I’ve coached, some I’ve coached against), one thing is very apparent….everyone is on pins & needles.  This is the final tryout camp for one of the teams in the North American Hockey League.  Players enter with the hopes of making a high-level US-based junior team.  Parents wait nervously in the stands and lobby, sometimes pacing back and forth, chain smoking, or just sitting there fidgeting.  It’s fun hockey to watch because every player on the ice is competing.  There are some obvious cuts and some obvious returning players, but the rest remains very close in talent.  Many perceptions of junior hockey tryouts are they serve primarily as a fundraiser for the organization.  I suppose if you broke it down, it’s easy to see how that would be an easy conclusion to jump to.  Just for fun, here are the numbers of the camp I’m watching:

100 players (approximately) x $250 each player = $25,000

Ice expense of approximately 25 hours at $150/hr = $5,250

Total approximate profit: $19,750 – not bad for a weekend’s work!  No matter what the dollar amount equals out to, my main hope is the players attending are being treated honestly and fairly.  Let me make it clear by saying I am NOT saying they aren’t being treated fairly/honestly.  I hope that when players attend ANY junior tryout (or any other level tryout for that matter), the coaching staff is having a completely honest conversation with the players as opposed to stringing them along to get more money out of them.  Good luck to all the skaters on the ice this weekend!


Taking a Lesson from the Capitals

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Comments & Thoughts

If you’re a Washington Capitals fan, the last couple days have probably been pretty tough to handle after their first-round exit from the playoffs after being up three games to one in the series.  While surfing through the latest hockey headlines online, I came across a question from Dave Hodge on TSN.ca titled Does the Caps’ Loss Make Mockery of Regular Season.  The question is an interesting one – one which I’m sure will stir up some debate and emotional responses (especially from the Caps’ fans).

Click to continue…


Post-Game Tirades

Posted by Kevin - Filed under: Comments & Thoughts
Tags: , ,

As I entered the locker room to address my team before a tournament game last weekend, for the second time in as many weeks I was over-powered vocally by a coach from the adjoining locker room screaming and cursing out his team.  Both times myself and my team were basically forced to listen to a curse-laden tirade while we were attempting to get ready for our own games.  One of them even went so far as to kick the exit door open on his way out.  These incidents led me to contemplate a few issues after our own games and evaluate the lessons being taught by these coaches.

1) What lesson is being taught to these kids? One of the only things continually crossing my mind was: “I really wouldn’t want to play his team – if that’s the way he acts and ‘controls’ himself during tense situations, I can only imagine how the children he is coaching will maintain their control.”  Kids are like sponges, they pick up on the smallest things leaders they respect do.  While I can’t say for certain whether or not the players in those locker rooms respected the coaches, I can almost guarantee they are absorbing poor behavioral habits in times of difficulty/stress.  If a coach completely loses his cool when something doesn’t go right, how can he/she expect a player to maintain composure when something happens to them during a game?

2) Why do parents put up with this?  In our area, the cost to play midget hockey is substantial – usually falling in the $2,500 range for non-Tier I (AAA) programs.  With that much money on the line, I don’t see how parents could be willing to put up with actions like these and continue to allow their children to be exposed to this sort of behavior coming from an ‘adult.’

3) What are the long-term effects of this learned behavior?  It is easy to see the short-term effects coaches who are out of control can have on a team, but the long-term effects are much harder to quantify.  Habits, no matter how small, play an enormous role in the long-term development of people. One of the best simple habit examples is the age-old saying: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.”  Imagine the long-term impact and difference between consistently practicing that habit versus: “A candy bar a day keeps the doctor away!”

Now, don’t get me wrong.  There is a time and place to raise your voice to make a point, but I don’t think there’s a place in our game to degrade and personally attack youth.  I definitely have things I struggle with handling, as I’m sure every coach does.  This is OK – nobody is perfect.  I’m sure there have been instances where I was out of line with my actions.  My simple hope is that you and I, as a coaches, take the time to evaluate our interactions with our teams.  Make sure they’re appropriate.  The kids are watching you.  Coaching is a position of leadership.  Let’s make sure we’re leading them in the right directions – not only in hockey….but in life.



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