Tag Archives: Tier I hockey

And so it begins. . . .

Here I am, on August 30, sitting in a hotel room just outside Chicago for our first tournament of the year.  One game in the books and it was a thriller.  Another one today and then two more tomorrow.  Then off to Canada next weekend, followed up by a trip to Detroit the weekend after that.

BANG!

Was that just the starters gun I heard?  Off and running on another season of hockey. . . . .

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

The chill of the rink, the quiet before the teams come on the ice, the nervous anticipation of the first drop of the puck on a new season – wondering what will happen, how will the team play, will it be an up and down game or will it be a “grind it out” type of game?  All these things going through your mind and then you realize what must be going through the players’ minds – “let’s get it on”.

It is thrilling to see the anticipation in their eyes, the realization of another season beginning, the coming together of players to form a true “team”.  What a great time of year this is.

It may be 85 degrees outside, but inside that rink you’d swear it was 25 degrees with 2 feet of snow on the ground outside – the dead of winter – fully engulfed in the glory of another hockey season.

Enjoy it everyone!  Cherish this time – they grow up so fast and before you know it – it is a series of fond memories you’ll look back on and smile.

Let’s play hockey!

See you at the rink.

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Inspirational Hockey Quotes

You find that you have peace of mind and can enjoy yourself, get more sleep, and rest when you know that it was a one hundred percent effort that you gave – win or lose.  Gordie Howe

 

Hockey’s a funny game. You have to prove yourself every shift, every game. It’s not up to anybody else. You have to take pride in yourself.  Paul Coffey

 

You’ve got to love what you’re doing. If you love it, you can overcome any handicap or the soreness or all the aches and pains, and continue to play for a long, long time.  Gordie Howe

 

Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy.  Wayne Gretzky

 

Hockey captures the essence of Canadian experience in the New World. In a land so inescapably and inhospitably cold, hockey is the chance of life, and an affirmation that despite the deathly chill of winter we are alive.  Stephen Leacock

 

Hockey players have fire in their hearts and ice in their veins.  Unknown

 

The highest compliment that you can pay me is to say that I work hard every day, that I never dog it.Wayne Gretzky

 

I found out that if you are going to win games, you had better be ready to adapt.  Scotty Bowman

 

Never let your head hang down. Never give up and sit down and grieve. Find another way. – Satchel Paige

 

I won’t accept anything less than the best a player’s capable of doing, and he has the right to expect the best that I can do for him and the team! – Lou Holtz

 

Winning is only half of it. Having fun is the other half.Bum Phillips

A good coach will make his players see what they can be rather than what they are. – Ara Parasheghian

 

The achievements of an organization are the results of the combined effort of each individual. – Vince Lombardi

 

Ability is what you’re capable of doing.
Motivation determines what you do.
Attitude determines how well you do it. – Lou Holtz

 

Show me a guy whos afraid to look bad, and I’ll show you a guy you can beat every time.-Lou Brock

 

The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club wont be worth a dime. – Babe Ruth

 

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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Games vs. Practice

There’s a few different ways of looking at this topic and I’d like to focus on two of them.  First up:

 

Time on the ice

 

There is no question that any hockey player at any level of the game is going to get more time on the ice during practice then they are during a game.  If anyone questions that think of this:

 

During practice – the entire team is on the ice the majority of the time and engaged in some type of drill the majority of the time.

 

During a game – A max of 5 skaters are on the ice at any given time.  Consider a team with 3 to 4 lines and it’s a pretty easy equation to determine that there is less time on the ice in games.  Let’s not even consider the coach aspect (1st, 2nd, 3rd lines) of this equation at this point.

 

With that fact out of the way, now consider the differences in coaching styles.  This is a huge factor in what happens during a practice.  A coach that is utilizing his ice time its max is prepared with a good practice plan that involves every player in drills without much standing around.  Fast paced, high tempo practices with skill work intermingled.  Have a coach that comes prepared in this manner ratchets this up another notch – now not only are you getting more time on the ice during practice, but you are also becoming a better player at the same time – not just another kid that is in shape and can go hard during their shift.

 

So with that said, it definitely makes sense to keep practices at a ratio relative to games that produces high quality, highly skilled hockey players.  It can’t be all about number of games and tournaments you play.  If you want improvement – there is a balance between games and practices that is essential.  Something to look for when you decide what team to hitch your wagon to for the upcoming season.

 

The Next way to look at this topic:

 

What you do with that time on the ice

 

How many times have you gone to your son or daughter’s practice and noticed a consistent lack of effort by one or more members of the team?  Have you ever heard your son or daughter tell you that they don’t like doing drills with this player or that player because they can’t pass or can’t skate or don’t try hard?

 

The fact is that you won’t get 110% effort from every player in every practice.  But on average you expect to get 110% effort as a coach.  That’s the way you prepare drills and the expectation you want to set on the ice with your team.  The effort given by the players is in many ways tied to these expectations, but is also a product of preparation by the coaching staff.  Good drills, high tempo drills, organized practices, flow drills – all these things set the tone for the players during practice and must be there if you have the expectation of getting 110% from your players in practice.

 

The other side of this is the players themselves.  They must be willing to give 110% on the ice during practice.  There’s an old saying that I’m sure everyone has heard:

 

“Practice makes Perfect”

 

I completely disagree with this statement when it comes to hockey – and for that matter any sport.  Practice doesn’t make perfect.  Here’s a version of this statement that I heard many years ago:

 

“Practice makes permanent”

 

Now that makes more sense.  I can practice a skill for hours, days, weeks, months and years and get very good at it.  However, if I’m not practicing it properly I’ve developed bad habits and potentially restricted the skill level I might have attained had I done it properly to begin with.  This is where quality coaching plays a big part.  But let’s turn that around to the player – If I practice at 75%, what am I going to do during a game?  If I don’t backcheck at 110% during practice, what happens when I’m tired at the end of a game and there’s a turnover in my offensive zone?  I haven’t practiced backchecking and because I’m tired instinct takes over and I simply give my 75% effort to get back and play some D.

 

Most players I’ve encountered that don’t give 110% in practice will tell you; “I can turn it on in games” or “I’ll have more jump when it matters”.  And my response to these players has always been the same:

 

“Practice makes permanent”

 

See you at the rink.

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Then there’s Travel Responses:

I wanted to represent some of the responses that have come across the Mlive forum since the last round of the travel debate has raged on.

 

Some were succinct:  “This *is* travel hockey after all.” And others were a little more involved.  Here’s a couple straight from the mlive forums:

89704.4.2. Thats makes as much sense

by PhilDCooler, 8/5/08 9:02 ET

 

. . . I understand that it is travel hockey but in the strict sense of the word but so are the house leagues now. There are very few true house programs any more. Almost everyone travels.

 

Travel hockey does not need to mean that I have to drive my son to Grand Rapids for a league game. I understand that those on the west side want to play in the league [snip] . . . but there needs to be a separate division. [snip] . . . we’ll see them in the playoffs.

And another response:

89704.5.1.1. No perfect system….

by killjoi, 8/5/08 9:12 ET

 

. . . Maybe one solution is to limit one outstate team to each division to limit the trips, but again one could argue how is that fair if a west side team has to come over to the Metro area two or more times per month. [snip] . . . . the bottom line is enter the league, pick your preference (competitive or geographic)and then accept the results. There is no doubt that there will be unhappy people, but this isn’t and will never be 100% perfect for 100% of the teams.

And finally a response that surprised even this blogger. This was posted on the Mlive youth forums on August 6, 2008.  I would not call this representative of other’s views toward the LCAHL (Little Caesars Amateur Hockey League).

89773. Thing is the…..

by BigArn2, 8/6/08 9:17 ET

SE Michigan teams don’t NEED to drive great distances to get games with good competitive teams. [snip] . . . The need of the out state teams in not the problem of the SE Michigan teams. It isn’t the SE Michigan teams’ responsibility to play games with the out state teams or to travel to their locations for games. The “that isn’t fair to those teams” arguement is stupid. It is the SE Michigan teams responsibility to set up games so that they have the best competition for their teams [snip] . . . If we decide to travel to GR, TC, Kazoo, Midland, Bay City, Saginaw to play fine, we’ve made that decision as a team. We shouldn’t be forced to travel to those locations, any more than they should be forced to travel here. The problem is that LCAHL has forgotten that they exist at our pleasure. They have adopted the mentality that they are the be all and end all for youth hockey, they aren’t. Heck we don’t need a league to play in, we can schedule scrimmages games all year. Our team is a member of an association that gets to send a representative to districts. That is more important than the LCAHL.

We are all entitled to our own opinions for sure, but my feeling is that the LCAHL has done a tremendous job in promoting youth hockey in Michigan using *volunteers* to get that job done.  Suggesting that “youth hockey” turn their back on this league is a mistake that could be very costly to the state of youth hockey in Michigan.

 

I would also state that the vast majority of youth hockey players that I have coached, managed and spoken to would much rather play in a league where their perception is that the games “mean” something rather than being an independent team playing nothing but scrimmage games.

 

Finally, as is mentioned in this response – we all have choices – who to play for, who to play with, what team to play on , what association to be a part of, what league we play in, what level to play, and how far we want to travel.  We should all simply exercise our option to choose and this argument is dead in the water.

 

Showcase idea

 

An idea that hasn’t received a bunch of airplay on the mlive forums is the concept of showcase weekends.

 

Other leagues are doing this to alleviate some travel concerns – albeit farther than any LCAHL team is traveling – how about a Grand Rapids area team having to go to Nashville for 2 league games?  Yikes!  But hey, Nashville is a cool city.

 

Could kill many birds with one stone with the showcase approach.  At the Bantam and Midget levels – could use it as an opportunity to bring in some junior and college scouts.  At the other levels – the league could send some representatives to assess the level of play – competitiveness of the games etc.  Not to mention the obvious advantage of playing 4 to 5 league games over the course of a weekend.  If setup properly, in a division with 11 teams (20 league games total) you could satisfy the 10 home games with a couple of weekend showcase events.

 

The co-op option

 

Another option to address these concerns is to actually work together to come up with some solutions.  I’ve done this in the past – working with other local teams to coordinate ice times and dates to allow a couple of teams to make the trip and get 4 games out of the weekend.  It’s good hockey, it’s making the most out of the trip and it builds good working relationships between teams.

 

The argument to many of these comes from the viewpoint of the coach not wanting to pack that many league games into one weekend.  I can understand that viewpoint – injuries, conflicting schedules etc could have a significant impact on a weekend full of league games.  But the bottom line is there is not perfect system and you either manage the travel or come up with a solution that limits travel without limiting the league.

 

The original statement was made:

 

“I believe that is 1/2 the reason the sport of hockey is on the decline.”

 

I’m assuming that this statement was specifically about the decline within the state of Michigan.  If this is truly the case – that the “excessive” travel is causing a decline in the number of participants in youth hockey – what do you think it would do if there were suddenly geographic boundaries for the LCAHL?  So in other words, no team outside of said boundary can participate unless they are willing to have all their home games schedule within the boundaries.  I’m guessing that would have a fairly negative impact on the number of participants as well.

 

There is a common ground here.  We all just have to work to find it and not let the zealots at either end of the argument rule the day.

 

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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Great Hockey Quotes

Here are some great hockey quotes: Some inspiring, some funny and some that make you say, huh?  Enjoy!

 

”A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.” –Wayne Gretzky

 

”Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking your potential.” – Liane Carlos

 

”Goaltending is a normal job, sure. How would you like it in your job if every time you made a small mistake, a red light went on over your desk and 15,000 people stood up and yelled at you.” – Jacques Plante

 

”It takes brains. It’s not like a forward, where you can get away with scoring and not play defense. On defense you have to be thinking.” – Chris Chelios

 

”It’s not necessarily the amount of time you spend at practice that counts; it’s what you put into the practice.” – Eric Lindros

 

”It’s too easy when you’re not winning to look for excuses and point at others for reasons. ”You can say “Oh well, it’s this guys fault or they don’t do this well” or you can say “I’ve got to play better and contribute more”. You’ve got to find another gear and come up with big games.” – Sean Burke

 

”People talk about skating, puck handling and shooting, but the whole sport is angles and caroms, forgetting the straight direction the puck is going, calculating where it will be directed, factoring in all the interruptions. Basically, my whole game is angles.” – Wayne Gretzky

 

”The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.” – Vidal Sassoon

 

”The will to win is important, but the will to prepare is vital.” – Joe Paterno

 

”What a player does best, he should practice least. Practice is for problems.” – Duke Snider

 

”The five S’s of sports training are: stamina, speed, strength, skill and spirit, but the greatest of these is spirit.” – Ken Doherty

 

”When I look at the net I don’t see a goalie.” – Pavel Bure

 

”You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” – Wayne Gretzky

 

”Call them pros, call them mercenaries — but in fact they are just grown-up kids who have learned on the frozen creek or flooded corner lot that hockey is the greatest thrill of all. – Lester Patrick

 

”I don’t like my hockey sticks touching other sticks, and I don’t like them crossing one another, and I kind of have them hidden in the corner. I put baby powder on the ends. I think it’s essentially a matter of taking care of what takes care of you” – Wayne Gretzky

 

”If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.” – Herschel Walker

 

”Playing goal is like being shot at.” – Jacques Plante

 

”Some guys play hockey. Gretzky plays 40mph chess.” – Lowell Cohn

 

See you at the rink.

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