I wouldn’t want to be the person who had the final call on cancelling the World Junior Championship. What an agonizing decision.
I have so much empathy for that person or group of people. Just like I have empathy for all the players, coaches and hockey ops staff who were in the process of living out a dream. Particularly those players not eligible to return. Same goes for the coaches who had invested so much time in preparing their teams. Along with all the hockey opps people who had to sort out all the logistics for their players and staff, albeit during a global pandemic. Then of course there is the tournament organizing committee, who now have the experience of operating a tournament with no fans and one that is cancelled just as the event was being rolled out.
And of course I feel empathy for all the fans. We needed this opportunity to cheer on our respective country and escape for a few hours everyday.
It’s a bummer.
In the meantime, as leaders, we need to stay positive and demonstrate an optimistic mindset as we turn out he page on 2021. Please enjoy this edition of the regroup.
– Aaron Wilbur, Founder of The Coaches Site
BE ON TIME, PAY ATTENTION AND PLAY LIKE HELL WHEN I TELL YOU TO
John Madden was in a league of his own.
The legendary coach, media personality and video game icon was larger than life, both figuratively and literally.
At 32-years-old, Al Davis made him the Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders. He would become the fastest NFL coach to reach 100 wins and lead the Raiders to a win in Super Bowl XI. His life after coaching would be equally as memorable and make him a household name.
Madden passed away on Tuesday, December 28th, at 85-years-old. The football community is mourning their loss by celebrating the man who had three Hall of Fame worthy careers.
THE MOST EXCITING HOCKEY PLAYED IN THE CALENDAR YEAR
“Because these kids haven’t really been through a stage like this, there’s just that ebb and flow to the game that makes hockey so electric at the World Juniors.” – Scott Wheeler
Scott Wheeler is a walking encyclopaedia of knowledge on hockey’s top prospects.
It’s impressive and few are as equipped to break down the World Junior Tournament. Scott and I connected prior to the Holiday Break to preview the World Juniors Tournament, currently taking place in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta, and in the process, shined a spotlight on many of the budding superstars who will be showcasing their talents at the NHL level in the years to come.
UTLITY PLAYER, PENALTY KILLER & NOT A GREAT SKATER
“If you’re ever feeling lousy and need a pickup, he’s going to give it to you.” – Scotty Bowman
Terry Crisp is getting ready to close the curtain on what has been an incredible career. At 78, the father of three and grandfather to 10 grandchildren, will be stepping away from the game to spend more with his wife Sheila and their family.
Terry captured three Stanley Cups, two as a player with the Philadelphia Flyers in the 70s (yes those Broadstreet Bullies) and one as the Head Coach of the Calgary Flames in 1989, during a career that spanned five decades.
As a kid, the first video (a gold old fashioned VHS tape) I ever received was the Calgary Flames Stanley Cup video. I think it was called ‘Paint the Town Red.’ I must have watched it 176 times. Terry was my first introduction to coaching and I like to think his passion rubbed off on me.
WHY I’M A HUGE FAN OF JAMAL SHEAD (AND YOU SHOULD BE TOO)
Most coaches these days have a hard drive full of teaching and motivational clips on hand with them at all times. It’s become part of a coaches uniform. A teachable moment is only a few clicks away.
I suspect this clip of Jamal Shead, a sophomore guard for the University of Houston basketball team, will make its way into a lot of coaches’ video library. In it, Jamal stops to pick up trash from a garbage can that was kicked over by an Assistant Coach and teammate following a controversial loss, en route to his team’s locker room.
The act epitomizes sportsmanship.
In a world where it seems only outrageous and controversial behaviour gets attention on the world wide web, it was nice to see Jamal Shead get the love he deserves.
SERGEI ZUBOV FOCUSED ON RUSSIA BEING MENTALLY PREPARED
“It’s a short tournament and you finish your group and all of a sudden you’re playing sudden-death games. I believe that mentally preparing the team at the right moments will be the key.” – Sergei Zubov
After starting the season as the Head Coach of Dinamo Riga in the KHL, Sergei Zubov jumped ship to step behind the bench of Russia’s U20 team.
This is the second year in a row that the Russian Federation has turned to a former National Team and NHL superstar to guide their entry in the World Junior Championship, following Igor Larionov’s appointment last year. Prior to that, Valeri Bragin had coached the Russian U20 program for eight of the past nine years, capturing a Gold and three Silver medals.
WHAT DRIVES ROGER RONNBERG
“They play more games there (in North America), and if you play a lot of games you are maybe a little bit afraid of practicing hard because you think you need to rest the body for the next game.” – Roger Ronnberg
There is no way to quantify who is the best coach in Europe, but if you said it was Roger Ronnberg, it would be tough to argue with you.
Roger has been the Head Coach of the Frolunda Indians, members of the Swedish Hockey League, since 2013. During his tenure the club has captured two SHL titles and one Champions League trophy. What’s more fascinating is the emphasis Roger has placed on developing players in house through Frolunda’s youth academy, regarded as one of, if not the, best development program in the game.
While the audio isn’t the best quality, this interview with the Puck Drop Europe podcast offers a lot of insightful take-aways. Such as how his coaching philosophy is focused on his player’s personal development, his emphasis on player democracy and how Frolunda aspires to be the closest team in Europe to the NHL.
WELCOME TO DETROIT
“You’re a tough, gritty group, man. You always have been. And, now, you’re seeing it pay dividends.” – Dan Campbell
I’m not the right person to evaluate if Dan Campbell is a good football coach or not. According to a Google search the reviews are mixed.
But I’ll tell you what, I would run through a brick wall for the guy.
While the Detroit Lions are facing a possible two win season in Dan’s first year on the job, they might be the most likeable and bad-ass two win team of all time. This speech he gives following the Lions HUGE upset win over the Arizona Cardinals on December 19th is awesome and most importantly, it’s authentic. Since first taking the job, Dan has been nothing less than his authentic self, and while his authentic self may not resemble the image we have for successful sports coaches, he is clearly endearing himself to his players.
And that’s the point of this whole coaching thing. To connect with and bring out the best in your players.
As we close out 2021, here’s to keeping it real!
BRUCE THERE IT IS
The Vancouver Canucks are the hottest team in hockey heading into the New Year. That fact, coupled with the ‘Ah Shucks’ personality of their new Head Coach Bruce Boudreau, has fans on the West Coast believing there will be playoff games played at Rogers Arena this spring.
I don’t know what a “Cameo” is, but this clip doesn’t get old.
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