So, the last seven to ten days have been very interesting in the world of hockey. Babcock gets relieved from his duties. The Marner incident finds its way to the media, Aliu tweets about Bill Peters racial slurs from 10 years ago, another former player tweets about punching and kicking by Peters and is confirmed by the current Carolina Head Coach. Still with me.
As a hockey Coach I worked alongside some very good hockey people an even better human beings. There is absolutely no place for slurs of any kind or having physical contact with a player. It is unacceptable.
When I first got into coaching I did not know what a Baby Boomer was, Gen X, Gen Z, or Millennial. The Internet wasn’t even around. I played in an era when the coach screamed the hair on the back of your neck stood up and hoped he did not call out your name. Bag skates were a common occurrence for poor team play. I can honestly say I have never played for a really good head coach. I had some interaction with part time position Coaches and learned more from them than the head coaches that I played for. The majority of the hockey knowledge I gained was sitting on the bench watching the game or having adult beverages with really good players after the game. As for life experiences and being a role model that coaches I had taught me nothing. To their defence, in the era that I played that was not in the job description.
Something changed and I wish I knew what started it all. In this politically correct world coaches are under the microscope. Every move, every phrase spoken has to be delivered in a context that offends no one. Parents sit in the stands, criticise every move, every decision the coach makes. It now said that on a team of 18 players a coach manages 54 people. No wonder good coaches are tough to find. As Wright Thompson put it “on the surface the game is very simple, but upon closer examination it is a sophisticated instrument for passing along generational code”. Parents need to support their child, but they also need to support the coach who in most cases is a volunteer. Asking him to figure out 54 personalities in six months is a daunting task along with teaching skill and tactics.
With the Peters incident we are seeing now is the death of one culture and the emergence of a new culture of hockey. One that is teaching and relationship based. It is not soft by any stretch. Players need to enjoy the experiences of the game. Players want to be successful. Parents want their kids to be successful. Coaches want success. However, it all depends on what your definition of success is? I like Coach John Wooden’s definition: “Success is peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” Winning is not success. Winning is an outcome. Wooden never linked winning to success, but most did.
In twenty years players will not talk about the wins. They will talk the experiences of the teams they played on. The relationships with the players they played with. Players and parents need to remember it was the coaches who gave them the experiences of the game and not necessarily the game itself.
Until next time!