Andy Nietupski / Texas Stars

Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal on how to coach offence

In Coaching Hockey, Skills, Tactics by Kelvin CechLeave a Comment

We’re entering a golden age of offensive hockey.

Whereas the 90’s and early 2000’s focused on ways to prevent offence from your opponent, it’s now time to look for every available avenue to break that defensive structure. Offence is good for the game, and it’s high time we as coaches recognized that you don’t have to sacrifice scoring for defence. Even if it means your heart rate might ascend to the heavens above each time your defencemen jump off the blue-line into the offensive zone.

It’s ok, just drink less coffee.

Texas Stars head coach Derek Laxdal spends time in practice developing offence with his team. Sure, players need to possess the requisite skills to put the puck in the net – an accurate shot, sharp passes, the agility get into offensive situations – but how the team plays and generates chances counts as well.

Defending is still important – how quickly you get the puck back directly correlates to how much time you’ll get to spend in the fun end of the rink. We need to teach our young players how to be ready to defend, how to use their sticks properly, and then what to do once we get the puck back. Be ready for passes, be ready to jump into space – the details of offence matter if we want to be on the winning side when the final buzzer sounds.

Each Texas Stars practice starts with pace. Laxdal likes to practice with pace for the first 15 minutes of every practice before breaking down systems and strategy. That way his players are moving and working on skills in a competitive environment where they don’t have to think.

And if we don’t have to think, then we’re already winning.

After compiling a remarkable 182-83-23 regular season record in four seasons with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings, a stint that included a Memorial Cup championship, Laxdal was hired to lead the Dallas Stars’ AHL affiliate in 2014. He nearly won it all with Texas four years later, making it all the way to Game 7 of the Calder Cup Final. Hear from the Stonewall, Manitoba native, who has over 14 years of professional head coaching experience, on how to coach offensive zone principles.

Key Quotes:

  • “You don’t have to be a fast player to play fast.”
  • “You need to know what kind of team you have. Are you a rush team? A forechecking team? Or maybe you’re both.”
  • “If you can defend quick and your players are thinking offence off the turnover, then you’ll get it back quicker.”
  • “D need to get pucks deep after the low to high pass, either shot or smart dump.”
  • “Attacking off the rush: middle drives, grab the line, slash, D activate off all rush attacks.”
  • “Outside the dots we call it ‘shoot for the team.’ Inside the dots: shoot to score.”

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About the Author
Kelvin Cech

Kelvin Cech

Former editor in chief of The Coaches Site, current head coach of the Winkler Flyers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.


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