Tag Archives: Little Caesars hockey

A whole lotta griping

There seems to be a significant amount of chatter over the past couple weeks on the youth hockey forum on Mlive http://www.mlive.com/forums/youthhockey about the divisional alignment within the LCAHL – particularly regarding what teams are in or out of the Yzerman division.

 

Seems to me that while every team can make an argument for why they should be in the Yzerman division at every age level, LCAHL has done a very good job of placing teams in the appropriate divisions in previous years.

 

Have there been teams in the Y that did not belong there?  You bet!

 

Have there been teams in the Lidstrom that should have been in the Y?  Absolutely!

 

Has the league done a good job in trying to reach competitive parity within the league divisions?  For sure!

 

So why all the griping?  I’m sure some of it has to do with travel.  I’m sure some of it has to do with one side of the common argument, i.e. “We belong in the Y” or “That team doesn’t belong in the Y”.  Either way, the LCAHL volunteers have done a great job of aligning these divisions and there will never be an alignment that leaves everyone happy.  Give them credit where credit is due.

 

In light of all this griping however, we could always take the approach that International soccer leagues take in division alignment.  The bottom 3 teams in the premier league (the top division) fall to the second division while the top 3 teams in the second division move up to the top division.

 

There are arguments for following this type of a divisional alignment philosophy, but there are many arguments against it as well.  The one benefit of this is that it would eliminate any question about who is in the top division and who is not.  It may provide incentive to stay with a team for the players who worked hard to move up to the top division, but it may provide incentive to move to another team if your previous team moved down the second division.  As I said, there are arguments for and against this, but it certainly would take the guesswork out of it.

 

Regardless of the approach, there will always be someone, somewhere, on some team, that believes their team got the shaft.  The bottom line is; Play your games, play at 110%, practice at 110%, and be a team player – the rest will take care of itself.

 

See you at the rink.

 

 

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Jumping

As in jumping teams prior to signing a roster or in some cases after a roster has been signed.  This is one of the biggest opportunities within youth hockey today in my opinion.  We have too many instances where a verbal commitment is made and then a change of heart comes along and the jumping begins.  This is something that absolutely needs to be addressed – whether that be locally within districts, state wide via MAHA or across the country through USA Hockey.

 

There are two sides to this of course – the coaches side and the players side.  Each side contributes to perpetuating the actions on the other side.  When a coach decides to bring in another “better” player after selections are made and cuts a player who was already offered a spot on the team, a ripple effect takes place as that player now begins looking for another place to play.  The opposite is true as well, when a player makes the choice to go to another team it sends the ripple effect the other way.

 

The problem I see here is that someone is initiating this sequence of events –whether it be a coach who is looking to fill out a roster or increase the skill level within his team or a player who is becomes dissatisfied with his team selection over the summer – maybe during pre season skates or maybe through conversations with other players.  Regardless of where it starts, it needs to stop.

 

I responded to a message on the mlive forums regarding this topic – my response is below:

 

All things being equal off the ice, the only reason for a coach to go back on a commitment to a kid is because he is focused on wins and losses.  That is not what youth hockey or youth sports is all about.  You held your tryouts, you selected your team – if you knew you had some “projects” on the team then step up to the challenge and teach them.

As a kid, there are many reasons to switch teams some of which don’t have anything to do with wins and losses – more friends on the other team etc.  However, it is still not acceptable once you have made a commitment to a team.

 

There should be a personal commitment, supported by integrity that would prevent this from happening.  But reality has proven otherwise.  We need to ask ourselves what values we are instilling in these young athletes when we condone and perpetuate this type of behavior.  What type of adult are we creating when honor and integrity are not priorities?

 

We have all seen the examples of this type of selfish approach in professional sports.  The athlete who holds out for more money, when millions of dollars are already on the table in compensation for playing a game they supposedly love to play.  The dissatisfied player who doesn’t play to his abilities or refuses to play because he is unhappy with management, the coaching staff, the team etc.  Browse any forum on these topics and you’ll see the negative comments associated with this behavior.  If that is the case, why do we condone this type of behavior from a child and why do we set this example for these children as a coach?

 

The answer is to lead by example through our actions and words to teach these athletes the importance of honoring your commitment.

 

See you at the rink.

 

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Fight!

I went to see the fight and a hockey game broke out.

 

We’ve all heard that one at some point, right?  And while it is meant to be funny it does point to an aspect of hockey that is a fairly divisive subject.  Some folks enjoy a good hockey fight, while others are repulsed at this spectacle on ice.  Of course, for the vast majority these opinions apply to the professional ranks of hockey possibly extending down to the Junior levels.  The fact is, at these levels there is a place for fighting in the game and eradicating it from the game would be a mistake.  All players need to understand there are consequences for running a star player or intentionally delivering a cheap shot on another player and that this consequence will be delivered not by the officials, but by an opposing player.  But again, this is at a different level – not at the youth hockey level.

 

At the youth hockey level, fighting is not and should not be tolerated.  There is no room for this at the youth hockey level and the consequences for engaging in this are justifiably stiff.  But it happens – each and every year it happens and like it or not it will continue to happen.  With all apologies to girls hockey teams – it is no wonder this happens when there are teenage boys, hormones raging, skating around trying to knock each other’s heads off with many talking smack to each other.  It’s a recipe for a fight and it takes the utmost discipline to stay out of it and that discipline applies to not only the players, but the coaches and parents as well.

 

A recent experience I’ve had:  Last season after a player grabbed an opposing player in a headlock, threw him to the ice head first (which knocked him unconscious) and proceeded to push his facemask up and punch him in the face (while he was unconscious) he was congratulated in the lobby of the arena by his teammates, by his parents and by his teammate’s parents.  Not only that but both players – the one doing the punching and the one knocked unconscious (when he came to) were given double minors for roughing (but officiating is another topic).  This complete lack of discipline displayed by the player, coaches, teammates and parents is reprehensible in youth hockey.

 

So what constitutes a fight in youth hockey?  The definition seems to be widely interpreted depending upon the officials, coaches, players and parents point of view.  I believe fighting is generally when you have two (or more) people attempting to hit and/or hitting someone else – whether they have their gloves on, their masks on etc. doesn’t matter.  But what about those situations where the other person is not a willing participant in a fight?  What happens if the other player turns away but is repeatedly hit or does not attempt to hit the other person?  Is that a fight?

 

I’ve personally witnessed many instances where punches are repeatedly thrown by one player while the other does not swing back.  I’ve seen the non-participant thrown out of the game for fighting and I’ve seen that player stay in the game – maybe a minor is assessed – while the other player is tossed.  Seems to me an instigating penalty of some sort (or something similar) should be adopted into youth hockey with a stiffer penalty associated with an instigation and fight as opposed to just fighting.

 

The penalties – missing the next game – the double jeopardy rule in league play are stiff penalties, but those players that are instigating fights should be treated more harshly than those that are coaxed into the confrontation.

 

I don’t think we will ever get rid of fighting completely in youth hockey, but I do think we can institute rules that will curb the behavior and need to continue to encourage non tolerance from coaches and parents.

 

See you at the rink.

 

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There’s Travel and Then There’s Travel

The debate rages on at a minimum once every week.  How much travel should a travel team actually do?  Here’s a comment from the Mlive Youth Hockey forum – the latest round of this debate:

 

89704. Here is my thought on this.

I do undestand that it is ” travel Hockey ” but why should our team drive from the Detroit area up to Traverse City, Muskegon, Grand Rapids, K-Zoo etc. ? Why not make a 100-150 mile rule from Detroit, since 90% of the lchl teams are within 45 mins from Detroit. If you don’t live with in those boundries , you have to drive to within 150 from Detroit for your home games. It is too much to ask of people to drive 500 miles round trip on a weekend and spend $600 for a weekend of hockey up north for league games when we could drive 45 minutes and get a 100 game season. Traverse City can play in the nihl, so them and Muskegon would really be the only 2 teams that would have to meet the 150 mile rule. With the cost of gas and rising hotel prices it just gets to be too much on the parents and kids. I believe that is 1/2 the reason the sport of hockey is on the decline.

by slapshotlow, 8/4/08 23:29 ET

 

Interesting how when making an argument the cost always seems to be the determining factor, however spending $500 on skates, $300 to $400 on a set of matching composite sticks, $100 on gloves, and another $200 to $300 on elbow, shoulder, shin pads and pants doesn’t seem to bother anyone.  It seems the folks that complain the most about this are the same ones who outfit their kids in the latest Nike/Bauer has to offer.  How many pairs of Bauer XXXX skates did you see on the ice this past year?  The first year those skates were available at $549 a pair!

 

Let’s look at the facts:

 

From downtown Grand Rapids (Amway Hotel) to downtown Detroit (JLA) is 157 miles according to google maps.  Making for a 314 mile round trip.  Let’s round up and say you made a couple of stops on the way – 325 miles at $3.80 per gallon in a car that gets 25 miles per gallon.  That means you’ll need 13 gallons of gas.  This equals $49.40 for gas for this trip.

 

Let’s throw in a few meals.  Let’s call it two breakfasts, two lunches and one dinner.  Breakfast let’s average $20 for 3 people, times 2 equals $40.  Lunch is maybe a bit more – say $25 for 3 people, times 2 equals $50.  And a good team dinner at a decent sit down place with a couple of beers and a nice cosmopolitan for Mom – $60.  We now have $150 total for food.

 

Hotel costs can vary, but on average in my experience you can get a nice hotel room for $125 per night.

 

Let’s even throw in some incidentals at $30 for the weekend.

 

Total cost:  $49.40 + $150 + $125 + $30 = $354.40.  Only $245.60 short of the $600 cost claimed above.

 

This does not account for carpooling, room sharing or even eating inexpensively while on the road – maybe even taking snacks and drinks with you on the trip.  You can easily conceive of cutting that $54.40 off that bill to make two trips for the $600 claimed above.  And if you are really good, you could potentially cut that down to $200 per trip cut the gas in half ($24.70), cut the food bill in half ($75), cut the hotel in half ($62.50) and incidentals in half ($15) and now you’re down to $177.20.

 

The real opportunity is not to limit the travel due to the cost, but rather to get creative in how we accomplish that travel.  Carpooling is a great way to do this, but normally you see 18 different SUV’s pulling into the hotel parking lot for a weekend hockey trip.  Why?  Taking snacks, eating inexpensively – bring a loaf of bread and peanut butter, bunking with other players – these are all great ways to lower the travel costs.  It takes planning and some sacrifice to pull this off, but it is absolutely possible.

 

And finally, the kids love to travel with their teammates – not to mention the quality time you get to spend with your son/daughter.  I don’t know about others, but some of the best conversations I’ve had with my son have been on our hockey road trips.  There is no price you can put on that time together.

 

See you at the rink.

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