Welcome to 2022!
I hope all of you enjoyed the opportunity to rest and relax with friends and family over the holidays.
At this time of year, it’s customary to set goals for yourself. Goals are healthy and can be an effective tool to make positive changes to your personal behaviour or your team’s performance.
However, during my time at TCS working with the top coaches in our game, I’ve learned that effective goal setting begins with identifying the daily steps and habits required to make the goal a reality.
Coaching your players through this process and helping them become accountable to the daily steps and/or habits will pay huge dividends in their development and your relationship with them.
– Aaron Wilbur, Founder of The Coaches Site
PROUD DAY AT THE COACHES SITE
“Our search committee spoke with many applicants for the position and originally contemplated the hiring of different people for the head coach and general manager positions. After meeting Kelvin, we decided to move forward with a single position of coach/GM and provide that opportunity to him.” – Clarence Braun
The first thing I thought when I saw this picture was, “man, nobody’s ever looked this casual standing on a bridge in the middle of a frozen tundra.”
My second thought made me beam with pride.
Kelvin Cech is a friend, the former Editor of The Coaches Site, co-host of the Glass & Out podcast and one of the best humans I’ve met in hockey. He’s as genuine and as down to earth as they come. He’s the type of person you aspire to mentor your teenager.
Niverville has landed themselves a great leader as they embark on putting together a roster for their inaugural season in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. Kelvin has paid his dues while climbing the coaching ladder and has built up a reliable network, which will serve him well in this new role.
He was previously the Head Coach of the MJHL’s Winkler Flyers and was awarded the Coach of the Year award after his first season. However, due to circumstances outside of his control, he elected to resign from his position and return to BC. At that point, many would have hung up the whistle and chosen the path of least resistance. However, Kelvin chose to double down on his goal of establishing a model junior hockey franchise. I have no doubt he will accomplish that with the Niverville _______ (name TBD).
From all of us at The Coaches Site: Congratulations Kelvin!
IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN COACHING BOYS AND COACHING GIRLS?
“In 2006 I began a journey into exploring the professionalising of sport coaching, trying to make sure all the research we have been collecting for 30 or 40 years is getting to the coaches and supporting them in the really valuable work that they do.” – Dr. Kristen Dieffenbach
One of the most important skills a coach will acquire is the ability to connect with each athlete individually. There is no one size fits all approach that applies to each member of the team.
Great coaches recognize this and invest the time into understanding how each of their players is wired. What motivates them? What drives them?
With this in mind, is there that big of a difference between coaching boys and girls? How could there not be? Myself and our COO Matt Rhodes each have a three-year-old, born three days apart (mine is a boy and he has a girl) and for each similar trait they share, there are two that distinguish them. For all the right reasons they are their own self and while observing them play together through a parent’s lens, I can’t imagine a coach applying the same approach to connecting with each of them later on in life.This podcast between John O’Sullivan of the Changing the Game podcast and Dr. Kristen Dieffenbach examines the difference between coaching boys and girls and offers a whole host of coaching tidbits.
LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM COACHING HOCKEY’S WORST TEAM
“The team I took over was kind of the opposite. They had zero wins, but we brought in discipline early on, and that is how it turned around.” – John Bacon
Coaching is as much about figuring out how to make all the pieces fit as it is about the X’s & O’s. Talent is important, let’s not understate that fact. But ensuring that everyone on the team has a clear role, and perhaps more importantly that they embrace that role, is where the magic starts to happen.
John Bacon returned to coach his old high school team 20 years after playing for them. His goal was to provide his players with an experience they could draw upon for the rest of their lives. In the process, his experience led to him writing a book titled Let Them Lead: Unexpected Lessons in Leadership from America’s Worst High School Hockey Team.
John’s findings proved to him that on good teams, the coach is the leader, but on great teams, everybody leads. I really enjoyed this article and am looking forward to diving into the book.
FEEL GOOD STORY OF 2022
The feel good hockey story of 2022 may have occurred within 24 hours of the ball dropping.
When the Vancouver Canucks first visited the Seattle Kraken back in October, a Kraken fan, Nadia Popovici, who was seated behind the Canucks bench, alerted Canucks Assistant Equipment Manager Brian Hamilton that an abnormal mole on the back of his neck could be cancerous.
The message, delivered by way of typing it on her smart phone and holding it up the glass, may have saved Brian’s life.This past Saturday the two united after the Canucks initiated a social media campaign to identify the unknown good samaritan. The Canucks and Kraken also teamed up in providing Nadia a $10,000 scholarship to attend medical school, which she is enrolled in next year.
THE RANGERS SUCCESS IS ROOTED IN A COMPETITIVE MINDSET
“My question today is ‘should we be putting more of a focus on competitiveness.’ And if the answer is ‘yes,’ how do we do that?” – Mike Kelly
The New York Rangers are in first place in the NHL.
You read that correctly.
This has to put Gerard Gallant in pole position for the Jack Adams trophy should the Rangers keep up with their winning ways. It also validates the job he did with the Vegas Golden Knights (and the Florida Panthers), in leading them to the Stanley Cup final in their expansion season, was no fluke.
Gallant is known as a coach who demands a superior work ethic from his players. Back in 2019, his lieutenant during his stops in Florida, Vegas and now New York, Mike Kelly, gave an impassioned presentation on the Importance of a Competitive Mindset. He argued the game has shifted too much to a focus on skill development and ignored the importance of developing a competitive mindset in young players. That skill without the competitive will is likely to fall flat when the heat gets turned up.
While he admitted the role of competitiveness in performance is tough to quantify or back up scientifically, it would seem that he and Gallant have provided us a case study spanning seven seasons and three different teams, while delivering similar results.
As you transition into the playoff push, Mike’s presentation is sure to provide you and your players with some additional juice down the home stretch.
EVERYONE HAS ROOM TO GROW
“Understanding the players’ side wasn’t difficult for me, but at the same time drawing the line [was]. For them to understand that there’s a fine line there and for you to understand it too, and know what the boundaries are, was the most difficult part for me early on.” – Luca Caputi
The Kingston Frontenacs currently own the top winning percentage in the OHL and sit third in the CHL National Rankings.
Guiding the team is first year Head Coach Luca Caputi, who started his coaching career in 2015 just months after retiring as a player. He began as an assistant coach with the OHL’s Guelph Storm, where he would spend three seasons before heading east to Kingston. Caputi was an Associate Coach for three campaigns with the Frontenacs before being named Head Coach in July, following the departure of Paul McFarland to the Seattle Kraken.
A graduate of the GTHL, Luca recently sat down with Stephanie Coratti of Breakout magazine to discuss his coaching journey to date and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
IT’S OK TO DISAGREE
The more I’m around elite coaches, the more I come to appreciate that the secret to their craft lies in how they manage adversity. Because no matter how good you are, adversity will find you.
Matt LaFleur is only a few years older than Aaron Rodgers, the reigning NFL MVP, and was named the Green Bay Packers Head Coach in 2019 with only one season of play calling under his belt. So when Rodgers tried to manipulate a trade this past off-season, and didn’t get his way, there was the potential for the team to implode.
However, as Coach LaFleur says trust, love and respect are the foundation of all productive relationships, and have led to the Packers earning the number #1 seed in the NFC heading into the playoffs.
IT’S A MATTER OF TRUST
“As a parent, you want your son and daughter to go somewhere where you know they’re in good hands. You trust they’re not only going to take care of them from the hockey side of it, but the life part of it, too.” – Scott Sandelin
Scott Sandelin is one of the most decorated coaches in the NCAA, having coached the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs since 2000, winning three National Championships along the way.
You don’t get that distinction at the collegiate level without having success on the recruiting trail. However, during a recent loss at home to in-state rival Minnesota State, a home-grown player put up a goal and an assist against the team and coach he grew up cheering for.
And when I say ‘home-grown,’ I mean it as in he grew up at the same dinner table as the coach of the Bulldogs.
Ryan Sandelin had options when selecting what college he was going to play for, including his hometown Bulldogs, but elected to head south to play for Mike Hastings. As he put it, he wanted his dad to be his dad, not his coach.
Scott and Mike had developed a friendship over the years and have even coached together for Team USA at the World Junior Championships. In the coaching profession, there may be no bigger compliment than one of your peers supporting their child to come play for you.
This article goes back to when Ryan first decided to join the Mavericks over the Bulldogs, but highlights the respect and camaraderie between two great coaches.
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