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Confessions Of A Junior Hockey Coach – Coaches Choosing Wrong Players

It is so nice to be back in the season.  The rinks they are alive, the coffee is bad, and the doughnuts are stale.  Things are as they should be in the world again. Ha Ha  To be true though, the more season that pass me by the more time thing remain the same.

One thing that is for sure to be true is that some coaches are still picking the wrong players for the teams at higher junior levels.  This unfortunately is a constant thing each year.  I not only blame the coaches, but I blame the Owners who hire them or keep them employed, the General Managers who do not act, and the fans who continue to support mediocre product.

I just return from three solid day at the NAHL showcase in Blaine Minnesota.  Again, it was a sight to behold.  Truly a one of a kind event in the United States.

But one thing that was the same as last season is that some coach continue to pick wrong player for their team.  I see this at the USHL Fall Classic too, so I am not picking on any group here.  I will also see it in the Major Junior hockey leagues in the next few weeks.

So why do this continue to happen?

It is unfortunate to watch the coach who think he know it all, or he is too rigid in his system belief.  It is usually this type of coach who think the only way to success is with one type of system or another, or one type of player or another.  Sometime the coach is too loyal to the returning player and cut the new but better player due to that loyalty.

It is the most successful coaches who simply pick the best player to make his team.  When at the tryout, it is easy to see in most cases who are the top six forwards, the top four defence, and the top goalie.  They stand out among all the other player, so the choice is clear in almost every case.  It is in the picking of the other two lines and the number two goalie that really determine the success or failure of the team.

But what do it say when a coach is to loyal and bring back player who was clearly not as good as new player who got cut?  What do it say when the coach play the returning player on the top line when the younger player behind him is clearly better?

It say that the coach has no clue.

If you look at the NHL, and you have the Daniel Alfredsson, you have a future Hall of Fame player.  But that Hall of Fame player is no longer the first or second line every shift forward.  He is power play specialist and third line player.  He accept his role, and coach puts him in the appropriate role.  This is the Hall of Fame player who accept how it should be and how it is.

Why then when you have the junior player who may be a 20 yr old returner is he simply given the best opportunity when the younger player is clearly better?  It is because the coach do not know how to make the hard choice and cut the returner, and do not have the nerve to put him in appropriate place.

Age, and experience are only quality that give depth to a team.  Age and experience do not win championships.

Size, is only one component of the team.  Size alone do not win championship.  A seven foot tall pylon is just as easy to skate around as a three foot tall pylon.  Size only matter in close quarters, and speed will beat size eighty percent of the time.

So when I go to this showcase and I see some of the same player from last year who have not gotten better, getting more ice or quality time than younger player who are better I have to question these teams.

Some team are so easy to predict.  They always look for size.  But the big player they sign can not play and they cant win.

Some always look for player to play certain system.  But the player they pick can not be forced into a certain system because he is not that type of player.

Some coach simply have no clue what they are doing and clearly pick player based on resume.  Some also pick based on politics.

So when you cant score year after year, or you keep getting scored on year after year, when you do people wake up and realize what they are doing is flawed?

It is a shame to see some Tier III player who are clearly better than a lot of Tier II player who are not at the higher level.  It is a shame to see talent sitting behind experience.  It is even the bigger shame to see the same coaches make the same mistake in team building year after year keep their job.

Thing like this do not happen in the NHL.  So why do junior coach think they need to reinvent the wheel?  Some good player are missing out because some coach can not see the forest to the trees.

Coach

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