Our Coaches’ Conference is coming back to Toronto on July 20th & 21st this summer and it got me thinking about all my favourite presentations from the last seven years. There’s a few different ways to categorize these – inspirational, useful, most entertaining – but for me, my top three are going to be based on most memorable.
They’re all great, and sure I’m biased, but as we all know it’s a lot easier to work somewhere when you believe in the work.
That said, when I’m searching the corners of my brain for answers during another long season, these are the coaches’ presentations that seem to keep popping up.
Carolina Hurricanes Assistant Coach Steve Smith: The Penalty Kill
Aaron Wilbur always gives me a hard time on the Glass & Out Podcast about being an Oilers homer. Sure, I grew up there, it’s my hometown squad, but it stands up to scrutiny that playing for that team and winning a Stanley Cup a year after one of the greatest blunders in sport means you’ll retain a thing or two.
Steve Smith’s presentation on killing penalties in Burnaby last summer checked off a major box for me. A big part of my job is overseeing the penalty kill, so I was motivated. Smith focused on the strategy of Carolina’s PK, specifically:
- Getting the puck out of the puck-carrying d-man’s hands as soon as possible
- A diamond 1-3 formation on their defensive blueline
- The push-down and scissor rotation by their PK forwards
But don’t just take my word for it. Here’s Smith’s PK forecheck, just as he described it last summer.
One thing I enjoy about these presentations is watching the strategy play out. Here’s Carolina on New Jersey’s next powerplay breakout. A bit of a different look – Carolina forces New Jersey to dump it in, which I’d consider a success. I left the clip to run long so you can see the scissor by #42 Joakim Nordstrom. It’s a long way to skate, but he does his job and Justin Falk clears the puck.
Besides strategies, it’s also fun to dig into the tendencies of the players deployed in situations described by our presenters. For Steve Smith, simply telling his players where to go will never be good enough; it’s not good enough for any league. You still need the right personnel, players who buy into their role, embrace it, and react and play hockey when circumstances dictate so. For example, one thing Steve Smith talked about repeatedly was protecting the blueline. It’s not always easy for players to know how to protect the blueline, they just need to find a way to do it. They need to play hockey. The last clip is an example of Carolina doing a good job protecting the blueline, and even though New Jersey is still able to gain entry into the zone, Carolina’s #7 Derek Ryan (CIS graduate of the Alberta Golden Bears) has good habits, comes back hard through the middle of the ice, and New Jersey’s powerplay is done.
Access to our entire library of videos from our annual TeamSnap Hockey Coaches Conference. You can cancel any time, although after joining a community of coaches from all over the world using the videos on a daily basis to pick up new tips and stay relevant, we doubt you will.
- Ryan Huska – Penalty Killing Philosophy and Fundamentals
- Individual Penalty Killing Drills
- Glen Gulutzan: Hockey Sense Overrides Positioning