Those who attended the annual NHL Coaches’ Association Global Coaches Clinic in Dallas last year were given quite a treat.
A trio of established bench bosses with a combined 35 years of NHL head coaching experience, Mike Babcock, Todd McLellan, and Bill Peters shared their wisdom with coaches on hand. Thanks to our new partnership with the NHL Coaches’ Association, you can watch it all through The Coaches Site.
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“You’re here because you want to get better. And you’re here because you’re pursuing knowledge,” Babcock told the audience.
If you attend coaching clinics then it means you’re motivated to get better. You’re looking for knowledge and tips to improve your craft. Whether coaching is a full-time job or not, the acquisition of knowledge is the driving force behind every successful coach in our business.
Babcock wants players who are “over-prepared,” and he says that the same applies for coaches. Once you’re over-prepared for the next level, that’s the right time to take that step.
Babcock, McLellan, and Peters certainly know the coaching ladder well.
“The best advice that I was given as a young coach was to hit every step,” McLellan said. “That came from Doug Risebrough when he hired me to coach the Minnesota Wild’s farm team in 2000. He said ‘It’s just like elementary school, you can’t go from grade 1 to grade 4 and have success. It eventually catches up with you.'”
McLellan spent six seasons with the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos following a year in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League with the Battleford North Stars before getting his first pro gig. He coached in Cleveland (IHL) for one season before moving on to Houston (AHL) for four years before he got his big break, being hired to be Mike Babcock’s assistant with the Detroit Red Wings.
Following three years with the Red Wings, McLellan got his first head coaching job with the San Jose Sharks in 2008 – 15 years after his start in North Battleford. He’s now the head coach of the Los Angeles Kings.
Babcock similarly had a long road to the NHL. He coached the Moose Jaw Warriors for two seasons before moving on to the University of Lethbridge in 1993-94. He then put in his time with the Spokane Chiefs, coaching them for six seasons before being hired as the head coach of Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in Cincinnati in 2000.
Babcock has been in the NHL ever since 2002, as the bench boss of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Detroit Red Wings, and his current team, the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Peters’ journey to the NHL included stints with the Spokane Chiefs, University of Lethbridge, and Rockford of the AHL before he was hired as Babcock’s assistant in Detroit in 2011. He got his first NHL head coaching job in 2014 with the Carolina Hurricanes and moved to Calgary to coach the Flames in 2018.