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.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

How to draft like Detroit at player evaluations.

Hockey season is always closer than you think, and player evaluations are always the beginning, and can be either the beginning of a great team or the beginning of the end.

See the guys to the right? Pick them if they are available but if not don't despair since most minor hockey evaluations do not have Datsyuk and Zetterberg cruising around the ice.

"Duh, we would like to have Pavel and Hank on our team, but we only get one star since the rest are ,usually taken up after the first round, sometimes we can luck out with our 2nd pick!!!"

So what if I told you that that you probably have star potential with your first 15 picks. "You're Crazy" is a common answer, but consider this:

Detroit doesn't need the first 2 rounds of the draft:

Pavel Datsyuk drafted 6th round (171th)
-was there 170 better players? Nope!
Henrik Zetterberg drafted 7th round (210th)
-sedins, havlat, ryan miller ->206 other guys who can't hold his jock strap -> then Henrik
Johan Franzen drafted 3rd round (97th)
-maybe the other 96 guys were more clutch when their teams needed them
Darren Helm drafted 5th round (131th)
-131 players better than this guy, 24 points his draft year and all you end up with are a penalty killer and an OK skater (see these two videos penalty kill and explosive first step (47 seconds into video, yep that's Niedemayer and Beuchimen )

There are more, but the point is that anyone can get lucky with a late pick that works out, but Detroit seems to have more success than most, WHY???

Great scouting and a commitment to developing players. Most players in that organization do not make it till after they spend some time in the minors.

Hakon Andersson is the scout that found Hank and Pavel, but not because others had not seem them play, but because he saw something others did not. Past there shortcomings to to the players he could see. He likes to watch a player more than 3 time but less than 10, since after that "you start to pick on the player's minor weaknesses."

The other thing that Detroit does when scouting players is to look for players that fit into their system. They are a puck possession team and look for players that fit that mold. They look for Ability to play in the NHL regardless of size or age.

SO, who do I pick???

Here are some guidelines:

  1. Know your style of coaching and pick players that fit the mold. If you want a fast attacking team and that is what you are going to teach, don't pick big slow ogres.
  2. Understand your limitations. If you do not know how to teach skating, pick players that can already skate. If you have trouble with defiant kids, don't pick them.
  3. Understand your strengths and what you can teach. If a player just needs to learn a wrist shot and Joe Sakic is your assistant coach, pick that player.
  4. Understand the politics of your minor hockey association. Leverage if you can, but only if the players are put first.
  5. Believe in the kids you pick, tell them why you picked them and tell their parents too!

Pretty Good Guidelines, But how do I pick the sleeper picks?

Most teams are pretty even after the first 2-3 picks when the player drafts come in, so how you pick in the later rounds will have the greatest effect on the success of your team.
Here are tips for finding diamonds in the rough.
  1. Talk to parents if you can, find out more about the kid. Did he play all summer or is it his first time this year on ice? Is he an athlete or is he a one sport pony?
  2. Does this player fit into your style of coaching? If not, look for someone else, even in the first round.
  3. What is the player really good at? Stickhandling, hockey sense, passing.......... Find out if his strengths are above the others and if they are intangibles. Intangibles cannot really be taught, only refined, since they are gifts or the result of great development.
  4. Are their weaknesses something you can fix? Are they bad skaters, and it is something you can fix? Many people will initially write off bad skaters or cannot see past someone who has trouble handling the puck.
  5. Attitude................you can teach all of the hockey skills, and if they have a great attitude and a passion for the game, then it will be a season of improving leaps and bounds.
  6. Try to look past reputations ("That kid never back-checks and is lazy") and see if his bad hockey habits are something you can fix.

Moral of this post:

Make a plan for the kind of team you want and look for players that fit the mold. Don't expect to win all your games, think long term and you will be rewarded handsomely. Look at the players you want and how you will develop them for the end of the year. Remember, you do not want the best Novice players, you want the best Midget players so if you put the kids' long term development first then you have already won. No one in their right mind would give up a chance to play in the NHL, for a Atom AA league championship.

p.s I am sure I missed some stuff so ask questions if you want.

What Lebron can teach hockey coaches and players.

Lebron James just changed professional sports.

When he joined the Miami Heat to play with his friends and put together a championship team, he did what many have tried to do, but on a scale much larger than ever seen before. This might be the start of something....

Has this ever happened in Hockey???
Yes, sure has. Remember when Teemu and Kariya teamed up for a deal worth 7 million for both of them for the year to play on a star studded team in Colorado. Now that situation could have been the turning point in the NHL free agency, but a couple of things happened. One,Colorado did not win the cup, and both Kariya and Teemu did not have very good seasons (Kariya was injured for most of it and Selanne only got 38 points in 78 games). The next season the strike happened and people thought the experiment was a flop and we really have not seen anything like it since.

What makes it special now that Lebron is doing it?
  1. 3 players on a basketball team is like getting 2 lines of superstars to all sign in one place.
  2. Lebron is truly a king of the court (2 time reigning MVP)
  3. Salary Cap, means there is more to the game than signing all the big dogs (like the Yankees do in baseball) with big contracts.
I hear that Lebron is full of himself and this was a selfish move to turn his back on the team he built?

I do not think so..........here is what I see. (Please remember, me an Lebron do not hang and go clubbing together so I do not personally know the guy.)

  1. He wants to play with his friends from the Olympic team - sounds like a good guy to me.
  2. He held an hour long special to announce his decision - with all the profits going to boys and girls clubs of America rather than the big team press conference everyone else gets. This press conference was gonna be a big deal without him putting on a special on ESPN anyways.
  3. He took a pay cut for a chance at a championship - he still makes 14 million, but that is down from the 19.5 he could have made, and there is whole dynamic of taking a ridiculous pay cut and hurting all the other negotiation for players around the league. Pretty hard to get what your worth when the top player in the world just signed for 2 million.

The owner of the Cavs calls him a selfish coward who is narcissistic and that he betrayed cleveland and all the fans who supported him.
(click on underline text to read letter).

Lets look at this with an open mind. Cleveland had the best record in the regular season, good playoff runs and seemed pretty close to a team ready to add a player to take them over to the top. Why not bring Bosh or Wade (or any other free agent star) to Cleveland? Obviously there is more to this story that we all know. After reading the letter, I felt reassured that Lebron made the right decision. The way the owner reacted speaks volumes as to how he manages a team. Obviously the owner was not the leader with the vision that matched what Lebron wanted in a owner. So take a step back and think of being in Lebron's shoes. The owner mentions about who we want our kids to grow up and be like. You tell me who your kids should be like: someone who is willing to take a pay cut, share the spotlight and do what ultimately makes them happy or someone who has knee-jerk reactions when faced with adversity blaming others for their failures?

How does this relate to me as a hockey coach???

Lots of kids get bad reputations, bad habits and things that are keeping them from being good hockey players. I challenge you to look deeper and try to figure out what is really preventing them from being good hockey players. This is what separates good scouts and coaches from mediocracy. Don't write off kids, believe in them and understand what you can work with and what you can't. Understand that because a player may want to change teams, it may not be that he is not a team player. Maybe he just needs better direction and leadership, that's where you come in. In most minor hockey systems players develop reputations, just like coaches and parents. Look deeper than the surface (don't forget to recognize a bad situation it is right in front of you) and don't be afraid to make mistakes.

Moral of this post:

Players for the most part love hockey, remember this and believe in them and you will be rewarded handsomely with an abundance of players that will improve and surprise you. Take the time to figure out the whole story, the root of the problem and deal with it accordingly. You might fail, but you might end up with Datsyuk and Zetterberg on your team with your 6th round and 7th rounds of your player evaluations.