Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Respecting your Opponents...?

I'm sitting here watching the USA/Slovakia World Jr game and just watch Jason Zucker was just nailed with a blind side hit.  Earlier in the game Jerry D'Amigo was rocked with a high hit to the head and in the Canada/Czech game a Canadian was stuck in balls.  It brought up the question...Where has the respect for your opponents gone?  Hey I know all about hating the other guys on the team.  A month ago I told one of my River Rats players (now playing his season with L.A.) to talk a kid on Belmont Hill into coming to the Rats next fall.  His response was "after the game I'll talk to him, he's one of my best friends but during the game I hate him."  But that doesn't mean he's going to go out and try to hurt him intentionally.  These hits in the World Junior games have clearly had the intent to hurt their opponent.  Both games were blowouts and I know it's frustrating to be on  the losing side, but that doesn't give you the OK to go try to put a guy out for the year.  Maybe it's the way things are done in Europe.  I thought the North Americans were supposed to be the dirty players, but in this game the penalty minutes are 58-4 in favor of the Slovaks.  Maybe I'm missing something but I don't think I am. Can someone fill me in?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Coaching at the Younger Levels...

Allow me to set the scene for you...a Friday night at a local 2 rink complex, squirts practicing on one side and a prep school game on the other rink.  Between periods I poke my head over to the rink where the squirts are practicing only to see something that I would only believe in person.  There were 18 players on the ice, ages 7-9 years old, and there were 6 coaches.  SIX. COACHES. ON. THE. ICE.  You have to believe that of the 6 coaches on the ice at least one of them would be able to show these young players how to crossover backwards right?  I mean there are SIX of them, surely one of these "coaches" must have played on their JV team in high school 20 years ago and has the ability to crossover backwards.  Unfortunately, not one of them could.  They are coaching these young, impressionable kids at an age where skill development is most important and they can't even show the kids what they are teaching them.

Now I guarantee you that you can walk into any rink, in any city, on any weeknight and see the exact scene that I witnessed tonight.  You'll see it at all levels mites thru bantams and even at the town midget level.  With that said, I have no problem with a proud father helping out little Timmy's team as an assistant coach.  Opening the door, filling the water bottles, offering praise when a kid does something correctly.  But to take on a responsibility like coaching not just your son, but 16-20 other kids when you have no idea what you're doing is insane to me.  And for me that is why USA Hockey isn't as deep as it has been in the past.  Sure there's too many "AAA" teams out there and not enough practices per team...But you know where it all stems from??  It comes from the dads out there that want their kid to be the next Sidney Crosby, Tyler Seguin, Bobby Ryan or Alex Ovechkin and think that their one year on the Groton JV team and years of playing in C level mens leagues makes them the candidate to show the future the way.

And let's get back to SIX COACHES ON THE ICE thing....Jesus that's a 3:1 ratio out there.  One "coach" shows the drills, another pushes pucks into the corner, two are "sniping" on the teams goalies (surely making those poor kids never want to step in goal again) and two others are having social hour with each other.  Six coaches...really?

Now I know not every town has 9 grown men that have a legit hockey background and want to volunteer their time to coach kids.  But at least find someone that maybe played varsity hockey in high school, even if it was for only a year.  Hell you'd get lucky to find a guy who played in college, but at least ask him run the practices and bench.  These poor kids don't stand a chance.  And for the money the parents pay now to play this sport the egotistical old men need to step to the side and let someone who knows what they're doing take the reigns.  Have an outside hockey company come in and run a skills session once a week.  At least then you'll have qualified professionals running your practices and teaching your kids something they might use in the game of hockey.  Instead of the kids hearing about how in 1991 you scored 39 goals on your Midget C team.