Orange Ice

Coach Heldt's Notes

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hockey Fade

No NHL season. No one wants to officially state that, but delaying the season month after month sure sounds like a canceled season. Even if the season kicked off in 2013, what kind of excitement would we have?  Would there be a Cup? who knows, many die-hard sports fans have lost interest and have rediscovered college football and the NFL. Yes there's other hockey to see, but the damage is done - maybe not for everyone, but for many, including sponsors - it's not too good. This shouldn't be a shock, we've all seen it coming. It's not the same game I grew up with. It's great to see teams like Winnipeg return to Canada, but expanding the league and abandoning Canada may have made the league more cash, but it changed the feel of the game. Longer season's and more games only seem to water-down the excitement of a game. Changing the rules over and over again hasn't been much help either. The NHL may survive this, but hockey overall has taken a hit. At the youth level it's become a closed sport - extremely expensive and time consuming. Traveling hours to match one "select" team against another. House leagues are disappearing, pond hockey mostly just a faded memory of out door rink's past. It always comes down to the money. Money has slowly filtered out the blue collar kids, and turned our beloved sport into big business. You want to save hockey? Bring back the outdoor rinks and get more kids skating. Put the heart back into hockey, and maybe that will filter up to the big leagues someday. Until then....There's always lacrosse....Thank God for that!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Hockey data here and there

From the cold of Ladakh in northern India, to a supersize rink in Mexico City, up to the deep freeze of Slave Lake Alberta, and back down to the lake effect rinks of New York, hockey fans all know that hometown hockey is something special in many home towns around the world. A hockey player is a hockey player, and a hockey fan is a hockey fan no matter where you are from or where you are playing. I try to keep up on lots of different teams, leagues, and players.  Every day I learn a little more about this great game, and a lot comes from watching and listening. The minute you stop learning and think you’ve figured it all out is the day you probably don’t care anymore. I see the same thing in Lacrosse, maybe even more so in some areas. You can learn a lot about your own game by watching other teams and players approach to the sport.  How do they play against other teams, and how do they play against you. Hockey and Lacrosse are thinking games as much as they are physical. Thinking requires processing, and processing requires data.  Our brains process data from what we learn. We learn by doing, but we also learn by watching, listening – paying attention and even asking questions.  “ Why did my shot not go in the net, how did that goalie stop that shot, was that what my coach was talking about when he said I leaned forward too much on my shot?”  Feed your brain. Take in as much good data as you can. See what other teams, players, and coaches are doing – not just in your home town, but in other home towns…wherever they may be.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Unorganized Sports

Have we lost the ability to allow our kids the  opportunity for unorganized play? Have we lost the mindset that allows us to feel confident that unorganized sports is even viable, safe, politically correct?

Do we even remember what it was like to play sandlot baseball, pond hockey, pickup basketball, or many of other supervision free games activities where the kids made the rules and picked the teams? In a time where kids wanted to play a game because it was fun, no thoughts about what the parents wanted, as long as we didn't stay out too late, break a bone, or lose anymore teeth. Somehow we survived being a kid at the local outdoor rink with only an old jersey, knit hat, mittens, a pair of old skates, stick, and puck. Where have those days gone? No inviting college scouts to a game, no scoreboard,  parents yelling, no tournament travel out of town or association fees.

One of the reasons my teams did well was because many of the players not only played multiple sports, but they also played unorganized pickup games. We push a lot of small game ideas on players these days, but some of the pickup games tend to go rather long without too many complaints. There's something to be said for endurance when kids play pickup games. It's too bad there aren't more open rinks, and sandlot ball fields for kids to be kids, not regimented prospects waiting for superstardom or parent's egos to muddy the waters of playing for love of the game. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Lots of Hockey to follow

September 11th 2012 EA Sports NHL 13 will be released regardless of NHL lockout.  Maybe check out some hockey you don't normally follow.  Can't get enough hockey with just updates from the WHL, OHL, QMJHL, AHL, kHL, or IIHF?

How about checking out hockey in Mexico?  I haven't seen a lot on the  Liga Mexicana √Člite 2012/13 season yet, but hockey isn't just limited to north of the border. Hockey is a whole lot bigger than just one league.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Vacation your hockey bag

Summer winds down and school starts soon. Hopefully parents, players, and even coaches had some down time to enjoy the weather and rest up for the next round of lacrosse and hockey. Too much of anything is usually not good. Everybody needs a break to ensure growth mentally and physically. Believe it or not there is a lot more going on in the world than just sports. Hard to believe, but it's true. Recharge the batteries, hit the beach, do some fishing, read some good books, sit around a campfire, anything not related to hockey or lacrosse. Vacation should be a time to avoid burnout. If you must do some kind of sporting activity go play tennis, play some baseball, shoot some hoop. Just give your hockey and lacrosse helmets a chance to air out. In fact it wouldn't be a bad idea to let your gear dry out. Even if it's only for a few weeks - just don't leave your gear in the car.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bigger Mountains to Climb

There are lots of leagues and lots of different levels of play in both Lacrosse and Hockey. The top dog in one area, might not fare as well in another. Years ago I was coaching a young team north of the river and we were doing very well early in the season. We had a good coaching staff, enthusiastic players, lots of early ice and it showed on and off the ice. It was evident early in the season that, not only could we play up a level, but we really should take the challenge. Moving up would really mess up our standings, but we made the decision that it would be best for the players to play tougher teams if we wanted to improve our skills level for each player and the team as a whole. It wasn't easy, but the level of our team's play went up, way up as the season progressed. Another team that was at the time about equal in skill to us decided to stay down and eventually dominate the level we had left. Near the end of the season I could see we had made the right decision. I saw the other team play, and knew they too should have moved up along with our players. If you want to get better, play better competition. That doesn't mean play so far out of your range that it works against you. Know when and where to gauge the line. Dominating at one level isn't  much fun after a while. I'd rather see a team lose to a strong opponent than easily defeat a weak team. In some leagues you are where they place you, so play all your lines. A deep strong bench is much better than one that leaves you dependent  on a few hot shots and one line. In fact that's usually a sign of lazy coaching. I'd even venture to say cowardly coaching. Good hockey usually doesn't equal easy hockey. It usually means there'll be some work involved from the team and from the coaches. Like I always say: it's easy to pick a team, it's hard to make a team. Don't coach just to wear a whistle around your neck and look cool. Coach to help your players and your team excel to the best of their ability. No one said it would be easy. So next time you're having a cup of good ole rink coffee watching your team crush a weaker team, or worse your team getting out played by a stronger opponent, ask yourself if this is how the sport was intended to be. Are you climbing up the mountain, or sliding down? If your team is playing their best, then it's upward and onward, if they only need to glide, then its time to find a new mountain to climb.