I see this more often than one would think. How does someone who seemed to have success before and coaches a new team or gets a new team (eg. every year in a big city in minor hockey), and they are not good anymore.
Now there can be lots of reasons for this, I am going to talk about what I think is something many coaches overlook:
Are you and your team a good match????
Here in Saskatchewan we have a couple of hockey teams that seem to be successful every year. Take the Weyburn Red Wings for instance. This team is constantly among the top. WHY??
Well Dwight McMillian and Ron Rumble are good at picking a team that fits there coaches vision of how the team will play. I have seen good players get cut from the wings, since they do not fit in with the coach's vision of the team. They are not bad players, they are just not what the team needs (most likely they have that role(s) filled by another player) at this point. So what we usually see in Weyburn in a high turnover year (lots of graduated players the year before), it takes a bit to get all the new players on the same page, but once they are....another top contender.
So how does this apply to us minor hockey coaches, who usually do not have 200 players to choose from and can make moves up until January?
I think the answer lies in the adaptability of the coach at this point. Once you have your team you have to work with there strengths. If you have a team of grinders teach them to use relentless fore-check to create scoring opportunities. If you have a lot of skill guys, teach them to use the skill an creativity to control the play. Do not teach them to grind in the corners after a dump and chase.
I know some of you are reading this and thinking, "well sometimes you just have to get it into their zone to ensure you have no turnovers in the neutral zone!". Yes, you do sometimes have to just dump the puck in, but if you have the skill why would you give the puck away when your players can skate it into the corner and still have control? I posted earlier about dump and chase and how to actually use it effectively and not mindlessly like many coaches teach.
Okay, back to the topic. Coaches need to adapt and need to keep the team goals/vision in mind when picking players. Do you best and then adapt to find what works best for your team. Keep in mind your strengths and your players and hopefully with an open mind and trying different things you will find that combination that works for your team and you. After that success is just a matter of time.