Confessions Of A Junior Hockey Coach – What The Job Was And What Its Become

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You think you know what the coaching junior hockey is about? I’m sure you think it’s about high wages, on ice practices, operations and planning for games. If that’s what you think, then you do not know much.

A Junior Hockey Head Coaches job has three main components;

Win Games

Put Fans In The Stands

Develop Players

According to the ownership group, these three elements appear in a different order. But they are the three main components of a Head Coaches job. Of course, there are many things that go into making these three things happen, but in the end if you do not have at least two of these things each year, your ass is hitting the unemployment line

Very rarely can you get away with only getting one of those three components.  If you can, it is usually only the player development component and usually only because you have a young player everyone is raving about.  One player can save you from having to find a new job.  Then again one player can get you dismissed if does not meet expectations.

When you win games and fans in the building most owners dont care about player development.  If your developing players and scouts are coming to games along with fans, most owners dont care so much about winning. But if you do not have two of the three components, it is better to have some savings and your bags packed.

Try living in that position when you have a family.

In the end a coaches job is always tied to revenue production.  Championships mean revenue, player development means revenue, ticket sales are revenue, sponsors only provide revenue when youre winning.  It all comes down to money.

I have spent the better part of my life living under those conditions.

Coaching on the ice is the easy part of doing.  It is about seeing your players strengths and weeknesses.  Making them stronger where you can and hiding the weakness you can not fix.

Unfortunately, the job has also become about dealing with players that think they are better than they really are, and dealing with parents who think their kids are better than other kids on the team.

Every bad word each parent uses gets back to us.  We know who you are, we know who is going to be a pain in the ass, and we treat your kid accordingly.  Other parents are telling on you in secret emails, phone calls, and even messages in suggestion boxes.  Some advice to you parents is to learn to keep your mouth shut, you are ruining your kids careers or chances at having one.

Coaching used to be an honorable profession.  Roster spots could not be bought by sponsorship dollars.  We picked the best players regardless of pedigree or resume.  Coaches taught skills and systems that fit the teams strengths, not gimicks and systems to feature one player over another.

It has been turned into a whore house lately.  Assistant Coaches stab their bosses in the back trying to move up more quickly than they are worthy of doing.  Head Coaches will blame players, scouts or General Managers for not giving them the right players to win.  Parents will blame coaches for every little thing that goes wrong if their son is not the featured player on the team.

Coaches are now forced to raise revenues through try out camps in many cases.  If you dont bring in enough dollars from camps, your job is on the line before season even starts.  You cant tell players and parents the truth about whether or not they actually have a chance of making the team because the team needs that camp money.

Being a high level junior hockey head coach is one of the most presure packed jobs in the world.  It is rarely the glorified position it would seem to be from the outside.  It is even more rare for it to be the honorable and important job that it once was.

So, the next time you have to deal with a coach, give him the respect of his position.

Next week I will cover the truth about recruiting and scouting.