As a young and foolish hockey coach I used to believe the best way to get from the dressing room to my vehicle following a hockey game was through the lobby. Big mistake. What I know now that I should have known then was it would have been a better idea to wait until every player and parent had vacated the premises, or found myself a parachute, a convertible, and some night-vision goggles so I could jump off the roof into a getaway car.
Hindsight is 20/20 I guess. The problem we’ve all faced is that walking through the lobby or parking lot after a win is no problem. But if you wade through the mob to receive pats on the back after a win, you damn sure better do it after a loss. That’s why I’d choose neither if I was in the position again.
Because they all want a piece of you. If the team lost it’s your fault, even as it’s the players’ achievement if you won. Them’s the rules, you knew what you were signing up for.
1. WTF Were You Thinking?
Frustration, rage, inappropriateness – it’s all covered here in this classic entry into the most important questions a hockey parent is dying to ask their child’s coach. The thing most parents forget is that most coaches ask themselves this question. Why did I have that player on the ice for a 5on3? Why didn’t I start the other guy? And that’s only after a loss.
2. Why Didn’t You Play My Kid More?
Ah, here’s the real talk we all knew was coming. I know this is a popular question because I’ve been asked this before in a parking lot, inspiring this article. The best part is when the answer is “your kid played more than anybody else”. But it’s never good enough for a parent who thinks it’s a good idea to confront the coach in the parking lot.
3. Do You Have Legal Representation?
Had this one before too. Many parents feel that, as a coach, you’re directly responsible for their child’s path to professional hockey. The kids are six years old? Doesn’t matter. If you get in the way of their development, you’re causing irreparable damage and you better lawyer up.
4. Why Don’t You Like My Kid?
This sounds absurd, but it’s still something we should listen to seriously. Honestly, there are kids you don’t like, right? Kids who don’t try, kids who are selfish, kids who aren’t good teammates. The problem with that line of thinking is it’s your perception. And it’s your job, whether you’re a volunteer or not, to develop every player on your team regardless of their attitude.
5. Do You Want Some Help?
I’ve had this one before too, and at the time I thought it was arrogant, but thinking back, maybe it was the most justified way the parent could think of to let me know I wasn’t doing a good job. Coaching hockey requires passion, courage, conviction, and a volunteer parent offering their help can be a blow to the ego. Especially if, deep down, you think they’re on to something.
No matter how you slice it, a parent approaching you in the parking lot after a game is a weak move, no matter how much they’d love to chew you out. They pay the bills though, and they feel entitled to their opinion. There’s a better approach, but we all know that hockey sometimes blurs the lines between entitlement and good sense.
Hopefully it hasn’t happened to you this season, but if it has, we’d love to hear about it!