Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Hockey Parenting: 101

Posted: September 4, 2010 in General

I am entering my third year as a hockey parent.  It is also my third year as a hockey coach.  Two years in novice and this upcoming in Atom hockey in Edmonton.  There is so much to learn for parents when it comes to hockey.  Even for myself.  We all would love our kids to grow up and make the NHL, in some cases even if they have that dream. (Hopefully you caught that.)

Personally, it is only mildly an aspiration for me.  As someone who is very close to my 8, turning 9 year old, I know him…well.  He likes hockey.  Always has liked hockey.  But I see him on the ice and see him as a good, smart, little hockey player that is a great team guy.  He is the kid that would pass to the little girl in front of the net to ensure she got her first goal.  Only one of the many things I love about him.  But, he doesn’t have that passion.  That twinkle in his eye when it is time to lace up the skates and go out on the ice.  He likes it, while some kids love it.

For some of us even today, if we won the lottery, we would buy/build a house….with an indoor rink in the back.

So I think the first key for Hockey Parenting has to be the understanding of your child and what they want.  Not what you want.

As a coach you have to walk the fine line of “It is not my job to tell a kid what to dream.” and realizing that even the best kids on your team, in your division, in your city, might have a minuscule shot at the show.  You just help them work on their skills and hockey citizenship and allow for the next coach along the way to build on those blocks.

A few years ago I did some scouting for an NHL agent.  I watched the best AAA kids in some U.S. states.  I watched some of the best kids in the USHL.  I checked out as many AA and AAA kids in Northern Alberta that I could.  I didn’t see one kid that has developed into an elite AHL player yet.  That is hundreds of kids.

Now I do evaluations for Edmonton Minor Hockey.  I see lots of kids that all have a dream or have been steered towards a dream.

The issue is that most parents aren’t realistic in their expectations of what their little hockey player will be.  I have see parents with a twinkle in their eye that they honestly believe that their youngster is going to be an elite player, whether the youngster knows it or not.

You don’t want to tell a parent what to dream either for their child, or tell them how to parent.

You just hope that they read Bob McKenzie’s book ,  and find a little bit of reason every now and again.


Mission Statement

Posted: November 19, 2009 in General, NHL, Oilers, Uncategorized

The Edmonton Oilers are a business.  As a businessman myself, there is always a hierarchy in any corporate structure.  The strange thing about corporate structure is that you generally will have a clearly defined Mission Statement.

Personally, I don’t know what the Oilers’ Mission Statement is, or how they conduct their business, but let’s try to examine what it could be, and what the team is and see if we can find a correlation within. (A nice big shout out to Lowetide, whose Letter to Katz was the inspiration to this blog entry)

A good mission statement indicates what the purpose of the organization is.  What is the Oilers’ reason for being?  Historically what was it?  How has present ownership changed the mission statement from the previous organization.

In the Pocklingtonian Era, there was only one part of the mission statement that mattered.  “The Edmonton Oilers organization will be built to win the Stanley Cup, as soon and as often as possible.”  Thus within a short five years, and then five times by 1990, the team had fulfilled their mission statement and was a model franchise, although some levels of complacency and other factors exhibited pressure on the organization to change this fact.

Backlash against Pocklington, and escalating salaries turned the Mission Statement into.  “A team looking to continue our legacy in spite of economic and social factors to the contrary.”   Economically the team couldn’t continue as the preeminent franchise in the league due to a saggy Canadian Dollar, escalating salaries, and partial failure of the team to replenish after their first group of young stars were long traded away.  Complacency be thy name.

By the late 90s, the Mission Statement must have been “A team looking to survive in the NHL and poor ownership.”  Cal Nichols and the EIG took over in 1998.

Executing a survival plan to keep the team in Edmonton, Nichols and the large consortium would have probably considered something to the effect of “An organization ingrained in the fabric of the city designed to provide entertainment, prestige, and partnership in the community.”  The Oilers were “saved” so that Edmonton could still have an NHL team, and the community could still have one of the shiniest jewels in their history.  Dealing with too many owners, team patriarch Glen Sather left to Broadway, and Kevin Lowe, tied to the team’s history forever took over.  For the few seasons that Sather was still around after Pocklington, the team wasn’t successful, but for a short period, many in the community were likely just happy to have a team.

Since the Lowe era began in 2000, the Mission of “Competitive while surviving economically.” would be the primary thought.  Just make it to the CBA, and maybe we can get a league wide economic system that would stop the team from barely being competitive, to competitve, and gosh darn it, maybe champion again.  Who knows, maybe the “rush” of the new economic order excited the franchise to have one season of “Infuse talent into the team to be as competitive as possible.”  Adding Pronger, Peca, and later Spacek and Samsonov to a team that provided a great run although unlikely since the Oilers were actually fortunate that they could back into the playoffs due to Canuck ineptitude.

Since Prongergate and the plentiful nicknames heaped on the gap toothed one, the team has been struggling for identity.  The Mission Statement perpetually blurred.  Is this team rebuilding?  Are we competitive?  Does the team continually look to land a big fish but end up hungry because of its own blindness?  It seems lately the team has pursued and pursued the highest of talents and come away empty.  The Mission Statement “To acheive success by acquiring elite talent either by free agency or trade.” would be more apropos.

The funny thing is, that regardless, we cheer, we follow, we watch, we buy PPV, and attend games for a team without clear and concise leadership and identity.  With our new owner, the team was supposed to have new found direction and leadership and a Mission Statement that we can all believe in.  The team economically is a license to print money, so unless Katz is one of those meddling owners with a play thing, the fan base wants the Mantra to become “To build a successful franchise worthy of their storied history.”  The disappointing part is that since Darryl Katz took over, there seems to be no steps taken in this regard.

Showdown in the West….

Posted: October 1, 2009 in General, NHL, Oilers, Uncategorized

valley web 1 Well, it is going to be a rootin’ tootin’ dust up in the West this year.  The predictions will be fast and furious, with so many teams in the mix, it could be an injury to the wrong player, or some outperformers stepping it up.  Teams with lots of depth exceding expectations, or stars falling flat on their faces.  Here are my standings predictions….and a more.

1.  San Jose.  The best in the west is still the best in the west.  No Cheechoo, No Michalek, but bring on the Heatley.   Not only that, when you need a top grinding centre, Manny Malhotra drops from the sky and signs for $700K.  Maybe a little light on depth on the blueline, but enough to keep them atop the standings.

2. Chicago.  Patrick “20 cent” Kane and Toews are going to improve.  Hossa to come, solid defense.  If Huet is just average they are top 4 in the West.   Adding John Madden is going to help on the defensive side of the ice.

3.  Vancouver.  By virtue of Division leaders ranking,  these guys won’t have more points than Detroit, but they will win their division.  Solid blueline additions, with Ehrhoff,  Schneider…could be the best group of 6 in the entire league.  Shirikov is a darkhorse for Rookie of the Year.  If they can score some goals, with Luongo and that blueline, they might make some noise come May.

4.  Detroit.  Always too good to fall very far.  Top echelon offense and two way players, Lidstrom and solid support on the back end.  It didn’t matter that Osgood was pedestrian all year.

5.  Columbus.  My surprise to do something this year and continue to advance as a franchise.  With the return of Brassard, a solid but underapreciated defense, great goaltending, this team will win games with Hitch at the helm.

6.  Calgary.  The devil to the south has another edition of a solid team.  Playoffs with their defense corps is almost a certainty.  Adding Jaybo is huge, a full year of Jokinen will help the offense, and that goofy looking guy in net is generally not too bad.

7.  Anaheim.  Solid enough to make the dance.  Top line as good as any in the league.  Questionable blueline after Niedermayer.  Great goaltending duo.  Might have some trouble keeping the puck out of their net because they looking to have some defensive definciency up front…but Carlyle is a crackerjack coach.

8.  Edmonton.  Either one in or one out.  Don’t see it much finishing more either way.  Quinn and Renney are enough to add at least three wins to this team.  Bounce back years by Cogliano and Gagner, and having Visnovsky for the full year should equate to a playoff spot.

9. St. Louis.  Could easily usurp the Oil for eigth spot.  Erik Johnson healthy, great group of young forwards, and solid tending.

10.  Los Angeles.  This is going to be another good team.  Good group of forwards, great combination of offense, defense and toughness on the back end.  A little experience and this team is going to start to make some waves.

11.  Nashville.  Starting to see a big drop off in talent.  Offensively will struggle.  Great defense and goaltending will keep them in a lot of games.  Pekka Rinne is going to have a very good year.

12.  Minnesota.  Pretty average forward group.  Decent defense.  Great goaltending.  They need to start acquiring some skill up front.  New coach, but will take time to find their new system.

13.  Dallas.  If Turco doesn’t bounce back, it will be very ugly.  Their defense isn’t good.  Their forwards are ok, but not enough for them to win tons of games.

14.  Colorado.  Blueline looks decent, but forward group is a long way from the Sakic, Forsberg, Hejduk days of old.  Duchesne is my favourite for rookie of the year.  Goaltending improves a bit, but going to be a long year in Denver.

15.  Phoenix.  No owner, no coach, no chance.

Odd times…

Posted: September 30, 2009 in General, NHL, Prospects, Uncategorized

2MontoyaCrawford02-24-07Among the many things that I and many other bloggers have talked about besides Robbie Schremp (I might have been the only blogger not inclined to devote ANOTHER full blog to Sugartits), are the interesting times.  I wish I had tons of time to go over them all but these are the things that I have found strange this preseason.

Malhotra signing on the cheap.  A cup is nice but $1.8 million vs. $700K is nicer.

Moore and Betts still unsigned.  I expect Betts soon.

Skoula signing cheap in Pittsburgh after a good year, two other camps in Florida and Columbus.

Players you expected to make teams waived…and young ones too…Lashoff, Bourque, Cal O’Reilly, Al Montoya, and now Corey Crawford (Who I think is better than our back up in Edmonton).  Of course many more have been on waivers but some of these young players are a surprise.

As for the Oilers, Reddox goes, along with Schremp.  At some point we lose either Pisani or Nilsson to make cap.  MacIntyre is still on a team with two guys, Stortini and Jacques that can fight.  Gagner is on the fourth line, and we still don’t have a shutdown/faceoff/PK centre on this team.

Yep…odd times.

Bettman-Balsillie and Desert Dog…

Posted: September 4, 2009 in General, NHL

balsillie_vs_bettman_480_400There are tons of things that bother me about hockey fans.  At times when we are members of a larger group, we tend to overlook the deficiencies of other members simply because we don’t want to bash our own.

Well,  the number one peeve that I have is the disdain for Gary Bettman.  I suppose I should qualify that.  The misdirected disdain for Gary Bettman.  If you hate Bettman because he is a hardliner, has small man syndrome, shakes when he talks, doesn’t have a long established hockey background, those are all valid complaints.  Is he disingenous in regards to his reasoning to attempt to keep the Coyotes in Phoenix.  Very, very likely.  That being said, there are some things in this situation that strike me as odd which I will get to later.

As far as Gary Bettman goes, the issue I have with hockey fans is that he is anti-Canada.  I don’t believe that to be the case.  In situations in Quebec and Winnipeg, zero local ownership, or lack of a viable arena were the reasons the teams moved.  Period.  The Jets had above league average attendance twice in their history.  The barn was terrible, no one wanted to buy them, and they moved.  Period, end of story.

Quebec had zero ownership choices, and the province didn’t want to buck up to subsidize the team. 

When it came to the financial troubles of the other Canadian franchises, Edmonton, Calgary and Ottawa all had their share of monetary issues, in which Gary Bettman defended all those teams.  I asked Darryl Sutter personally how he felt about Gary Bettman when I was writing for McKeen’s during the lockout.  He gave him a rousing endorsement.  He said they (the Canadian teams) totally backed what he was doing.

Ultimately it is a few Southern Ontarians, with a lack of understanding of all the issues, fundamentally driven to hate Bettman because he won’t let a team move to Hamilton and owned by someone that wants to be painted as the good guy.

Balsillie is not the good guy here.  Neither is Bettman.  They are two business adversaries fighting for control of a business which is basically a hostile take over move.  Balsillie doesn’t want to play ball and kiss the appropriate derrieres to get into the exclusive club.  Bettman doesn’t want to be undermined, as little Napoleon’s generally don’t. 

In my opinion this is about Toronto and money.  Toronto may fight for territorial infringement.  If that were to happen, that would upset Bettman’s apple cart.  He doesn’t give two shakes about Phoenix from what I can tell.  It is keeping the Leafs happy number one, and the possible multi million dollar expansion/territory fee that would come along with putting another team in Southern Ontario.  Balsillie would have a team if he didn’t keep trying to put one in GARY/MLSE/BLUEWORLDORDER’s backyard.  Sure it would make tons of money.  But the Leafs and the NHL want that money, not to give it away to Blackberry Jim.

Balsillie tried to undermine process, constitution, and glad handing.  All necessary in pro sports ownership.  Fraternities are like that.  They also like to maximize their money.  Any owner that says, I want all the money, and don’t want to share is going to be put in the “has too poor character to be an owner”.

Regardless of all that, the funniest thing I have read about the whole thing is from today’s Globe and Mail.  As a business person, I understand that selling ice in a desert can only work if it doesn’t melt.  When it comes to the Coyote’s they are a tough sell, no doubt.  But when this is the latest…

 “Moyes has been a co-owner of the Coyotes for about eight years, but that doesn’t make him a hockey fan. He’d never been to a game before buying part of the club in 2001, and when asked by lawyers last month if he was a hockey fan, Moyes replied: “I jokingly say I don’t know how to spell ‘puck.’” He said he attended about one-third of the Coyotes’ home games last season, and visited the team office “two or three times.”

Businesses require leadership.  This guy isn’t committed to his investment, so obviously it failed.  They have had terrible management, terrible coaching, terrible player development and zero success on the ice.  Translation, why would anyone cheer for an absolute Mickey Mouse organization.   Sorry Wayne, someone had to say it.