A blog dedicated to the fact you cannot make an NHLer,

Obviously you see the sarcasm in my blog name. This blog is about teaching the love of the game, the skills of the game and hopefully open some eyes to the crazy parents that think they can push their kid into becoming a star only to have the opposite happen or be the limiting factor in their kids hockey development. Remember, if you turn hockey from a game into a job, then all is lost and kids will drop out either physically or mentally.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Player Development in Minor Hockey

With the WHL Bantam draft coming up, I am going to hear all about what areas are having a good crop of players, but when I hear that Regina only has a couple prospects as per usual and Saskatoon is having another bumper crop of prospects, I think that having a bumper crop of players for the last 8 years or so is not so much a result of a good group of athletes as it is a good farm system that develops them.

This is from the star phoneix:
"Saskatoon has, in recent years, been a hotbed of talent. Since 2002, WHL teams have scooped up 98 Saskatonians. The local crop won't likely feature a first-rounder this year, but most observers expect a dozen or so Saskatoon players to draw interest Thursday."

Why does Saskatoon constantly have better teams? That is the question.
Answer: They develop players better.

How do they do this?
Answer: I do not live in Saskatoon. But it has more to do with novice and atom coaches than it does with Bantam AAA and Midget AAA coaches.

Further to the above, I have heard a couple of reasons such as:
  1. They have a bunch of pros and junior guys that have kids now and are coaching.
- While this may be part of it, so do other places with varying degrees of success. This is the equivalent of saying "they have better coaches" which is a lazy excuse for mediocrity. If you want better coaches help them get better.

2. They keep their kids together through all the age groups.

- This is a good idea if you have a good coach, even better is you have lots of good coaches. Here is why: a player develops great under a good coach, next year he has a bad coach and plateaus in his development, while the good coach gets some players that he has coached the year before and can keep building their skills, but also gets some from the bad coach since he has taken some of the good kids in the FAIR player selection draft from evaluations. I think this will make a good topic for a future post to get more in depth, but you get the idea.

The lower levels is where the base is made for players to really develop. I know this sounds ridiculously obvious, but skill development has taken a back seat to winning and coaches ideas of how to make a player better. I think proper development models need to be put into place to ensure success for years to come. This development model can take many shapes and have many driving forces, but has to have a common vision/goal.

A Minor Hockey Association needs to have its goals driving everything. If your goal is to make the fastest skater, then everything that is done should have this goal in mind and work towards it.

Here is an example:

Go to http://www.lahockeyclub.com/AboutUs.php and their mission is about player development.

Go to other minor hockey websites and you will multiple goals and sometimes conflicting mission statements.

Solution: Give your coaches a goal and give them guidelines to achieve this. Every coach will have a different style, but if a common goal is across the board, then success is not a struggle. Take a look at what is best for the kids development, not for wins.

Morale of this post:

If your Minor Hockey Association is not developing players, is it because that is not the goal or is it that the goal is not outlined and communicated correctly?? Having everyone with the same goal and making sure everything they do supports that goal is what will give you your best chance of succeeding and developing players (if developing players is your goal).


  1. Well I in Canada I still think the bantam draft is too young an age to be picking ; so many NHl'ers to be; get missed as not all kids mature at the same pace. In all fairness you are hurting the kids at that age for a very long shot with a very low success rate. They are still kids and what we have done in Canada too often is treat them like small soldiers or lottery hopefuls. If you talk to many players who play hockey in the NHL or even those who played in the WHL ; many will tell you the one regret they had was having to grow up so fast and leave their home at a young age. Wayne Gretzky wrote this in his book as well. An old book but a great and easy read; something that has stuck with me in raising my son.
    two nice links.
    buy it used and enjoy for $2; very easy reading.

  2. more pictures !!!! maybe some video :)please..I love the look of Kunitz and Crosby in your one picture; they look like they are kids not paying attention to the coach