Ok, so I went down to Disneyland in Anaheim last week with my kids and we also went to a Ducks game. I was really surprised how popular Ice Hockey is. On our way to hang with Mickey and Friends I noticed a big store called HockeyGiant.com. Being the good old Saskatchewan Hockey Player I was, I pulled in to check it out and it was amazing (http://www.hockeygiant.com/ansup.html - for pictures.) I went in and talked to the staff and got a feel for how popular hockey is down there. The have quite a few rinks in the Anahiem area and ice hockey is more popular than roller hockey.
The next day me and the wife are looking for Strollers at the REI store and another hockey store is right there called Monkey Sports. Same thing, tons of great equipment and tons of people getting gear in April!! (http://www.monkeysports.com/monkeysports-superstore/index-hockey.html) .
So now I am curious about what the hockey would be like, so I do some research and also notice that lots of young kids are wearing team jackets around Disney (eg: LA selects).
Ok, but are these really hockey players or just a bunch of Getzlaf wanna-be's???? So here's what I find out. LA selects are one of the best Bantam teams in the nation. It looks like they will have 2 first round WHL draft picks in Brian Williams and Eric Comrie.
Comrie?? Like "the brick" and "Mike Comrie, engaged to Hillary Duff, Edmonton Oiler?? Yep turns out his dad went down to California and got involved in the LA selects program.
So the LA selects just one there first game at nationals in the Bantam Division 14-0, and at a National Championship tournament that is impressive ( I guess the real test will be Shattuck St. Marys - powerhouse who once had parise, crosby, jack johnson, patrick eaves and drew stafford all on the same team in 2002-03).
Anyways, Taking a look at the websites of the team such as LA selects and others, a resounding theme came through. Develop players for the next level. Nothing about winning. Lots about getting players to the next level and educational opportunities. Nothing about national championships in the about us sections.
How about that??? Is that what hockey is all about??? Being the best you can be and developing as a person and athlete. When you put that first, wins will come. Anyone can teach a system, exceptional coaches develop players to their true potential. I have a 2 year old and he can dump and chase, he shoots it on net and misses then runs after it. The Dump and Chase topic is gonna be a future post, but when was the last time you heard someone say "man can that kid dump and chase, he is really going somewhere?" . Never.
Anyways player development should always be key in any hockey program. Everybody likes a winner, but nobody wants to have coach that wins but the players never improve. Maybe California is a great place to be a hockey player, pretty sure the pressure is pretty minimal compared to some of the Saskatchewan Hockey stories I have heard and seen first hand.