I know hockey and I love hockey. I’ve never played ice hockey but I have coached ice hockey – 6 years while in my early 20’s because my sports physiotherapist needed someone to open and close the bench doors. I had always thought it was because he didn’t like the 6am and 7am games!
I learned to skate while teaching the kids how to play the game, and how to be winners on and off the ice.
In those 6 years we won one championship and made it to the finals 5 times because we never had the best players in the league, nor the top select players, but we made these kids buy into the team concept which meant all the players, no matter how good, bad or new to the game, were a key part.
Hockey is, after all, a team sport!
My wife found it unusual that with my love and passion I hold for hockey, I never pushed my kids into the sport. I tried, trust me, but they didn’t like it. They hated staking, they didn’t like watching the Leafs and they had no desire to shoot around a ball in the basement.
Then something changed…
The school my kids attended arranged for skating lessons during the day, and my middle child, Stewie’s class was full of top ranked hockey players, kids who could skate, shoot, pass and play the sport better than other kids their age and Stewie always felt awkward skating around his classmates. He’s a tall kid for his age and watching him stand on skates reminded me of a newborn giraffe trying to stand for the first time.
I was there, on the ice with him at his school’s skate day when his classmates skated over to him and instead of making fun of him, helped him stand, brought him the on-ice support and were giving him tips to be a better skater. I could see in his eyes that he was very appreciative of their support and he was determined to skate without support.
From that day came lessons after lessons, plus a learn-to-play hockey program and finally this season a debut in house league hockey. He’s a much better skater than 2 years ago, and his hockey sense is quite high for someone who refuses to watch the sport. He continues to get better and better each game, practice and lesson and he knows he has a long way to go.
He also knew that on his 0-7 team there was a very good chance that he was going to be traded. Not only were a lot of the kids on the team together from previous years, but he understood that to get new players, better players, you would have to give up your “lower-skilled” players (his words) and not the “worst” players.
Then came the news!
He was traded.
From a 0-7 team to a 7-0 team.
He’s not all that pleased about it either. You see, he is worried that his new teammates will not know that he’s just learning the sport, but they will see a very tall kid who tries very hard but is not the fastest, not yet able to deke players out, or who can raise the puck.
He’s worried that they will think he sucks and that the best players left the team because of him.
So I have reached out to the convenors, trying to get the new coaches contact information so I can let them know that they are getting a kid who wants to learn the game and who will do whatever he can to be better and make the team better. It’s been 2 days and no one has reached out, oh, except his old coaches who have asked for his jersey and socks back.
So what would I do in this situation?!?
I would do what is right for the children! I would have a really long look at the coaches who have volunteered to coach these teams to make sure they are looking after the kids best interests and not their own. I see teams playing poorly in hopes that their team won’t be broken up by trades and wonder aloud who does this help?!? Does that coach get an award for stocking his team while other teams struggle, or worse, what message does that send to the kids when they see a coach trying to lose in order to protect the core of the team…
I would rather the league NOT make the trades, but instead work with the coaches to teach the children to play as a team.
Sure, little Johnny can only score 3 goals, then any goals he scores after that do not count, but does it benefit the kids on either side if Johnny still dekes the entire team, then stands by the side of the net waiting for a teammate to skate to the net so that Johnny can pass to him or shoot the puck in off of him?
Does it benefit the kids that the league will not post the score when it exceeds a 5-goal differential? Nope, the kids know the real score so they might as well post it, but would it hurt the other coach to take his better offensive players and teach them defense, or passing instead. By doing that, his team learns proper positioning and the defensive team can also learn proper positioning. That would be a win-win situation!
Instead, we let the coaches run wild, we make the better kids feel special and we make the lower kids feel useless all in the name of hockey instead of using this special position of leadership to teach the kids to be good teammates, and to help their team win without rubbing it into the faces of their opponents.
I’ve applied to be a part of the convenor team because of how strongly I feel about the opportunity to teach kids to be better kids and win, lose or draw.
I guess I know who will be coaching next season…
No trades please! We’ll be fine.