In the last 24 hours two NHL coaches have been let go and you have to ask yourself the question why? Sure wins and losses are the immediate answer, but if you dig inside the record, there lies the answers.

If you think about it you have 22 players and  4 coaches that is 26 psychological fingerprints to learn, understand and manage. Some of you may have not heard of the term psychological fingerprint before. I first came across it from reading an article by Dr. Bhrett McCabe. In a nutshell it is your genetic portfolio and your life experiences combined. Our life experiences merge with our character traits to form a frame work on how we respond to challenge and opportunities. In the case of an NHL Coach it is a tremendous challenge when you combine it the strategic and tactical challenges of every game and the pressures of winning it is a job that certainly evolved in the last ten years and has become very challenging.

In the case of Edmonton and Montreal these teams got caught in a downward spiral due to injury, CV-19, poor goaltending, players performing at levels below their potential and poor management signings. The new Coach comes in and says ” they need to have fun again”. What that really means is we need to learn how to win again. Because winning is fun. Let’s not kid ourselves. These are highly competitive athletes who got to the level they are at because of a high compete level. When they get in a funk or a spiral The Hockey Operations Department needs to recognize this and give the tools to the athlete and Coaches to deal with it and prevent them from falling further into that spiral and taking others with them. They need to have these tools available to them before this hits. I am speaking about mental tools. This is where knowing the psychological fingerprint of every team member is so important.

This generation of athlete is like no other before. They are part of a generation where they get answers to there questions in an instant. A Coach can not blow smoke up their wazoo or they will lose the trust of the athlete. They can go there conditioning coach, shooting coach, nutrition coach, or to former coaches for answers if they think they are being fed a crock of crap. Just look what happens after a shift. They go to the I Pad and review the shift. They see everyone’s errors and if Coaches do not correct the errors and hold players accountable, this where the problems start. If for example they have a goalie that can not make a save and game after game he keeps playing. Players begin to question the Coach, GM, and the teammate. It escalates to point where the internal discussion becomes a distraction and takes away from the focus of playing. It gains momentum and takes on a life of its own, until something had to give. The most important thing that should have happened in Montreal and Edmonton when it began to start is identifying what is the most important that they should be doing at this moment? Manage that moment. Once it is managed, they needed to have a plan can be built to get back on track. All too often you will hear the phrase “we have lost our attention to detail”. That happens because when you struggle it does not allow you to think rationally. The Coach and the team must have a go to strategy that they can trust and execute under pressure based on the teams psychological fingerprint.

The best example I can think of comes from the golf world and it is Tiger Woods. His go to shot when he had to hit a fairway, when the pressure was on or he had lost his way with his driver was his 2 iron stinger. He knew he could physically rely on it, he knew the results when he took action with it, and most important it gave him the mental freedom to work through the struggle. So why do Coaches continually play the same way and try to put a square peg into a round hole and destroy the confidence of the team. Some nights it just does not happen! They must have the mental flexibility to adapt and select players who have mental flexibility as part of their psychological fingerprint and can adapt to the nightly challenges and struggles as well.

I am not sure if the hockey world is ready for any of this stuff, but all they need to do is look at other coaches from other sports and see what they are doing. Nick Saban at Alabama, Brad Stevens with the Celtics, Steve Kerr Golden State and Bill Belichick New England. These are all coaches that understand challenges struggle and chaos.

I guess you could say they have there finger on the pulse of the team.

Until next time!

Follow on Twitter @Betweentheears2


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