Friday, 14 December 2012

Questionable Coaching Practice

I'm all for going to watch kids chase their hockey dreams, and heading down to the local rink and community center is a great way to find those dream chasers. There is an innocence in seeing kids playing shinny and working on individual skills, but older players certainly need some structure and a coach is supposed to provide that. One coach in Winnipeg, however, seems to have taken the practice of coaching a few steps too far as he was teaching his team the finer points of fisticuffs - something that Hockey Manitoba has worked hard at reducing in the game in the province.

Hockey Winnipeg and the St. Vital Minor Hockey Association are investigating claims that the Norberry-Glenlee Knights midget A-1 team, a squad of 16 and 17 year-old players, was run through a fighting drill of some sort that left many shaken and one player with a concussion. Allegedly, the unnamed coach instructed his players on how to throw uppercuts so that they weren't throwing punches into the cages required by Hockey Canada. Hockey Manitoba was alerted of the issue through a letter from a parent.

"Hopefully, it's unfounded. If it isn't, it would be troubling," Peter Woods, executive director of Hockey Manitoba, told QMI Agency on Thursday of the allegation. Manitoba minor hockey prohibits all fighting, so a "drill" of this type would not only be against the rules, but it's downright tasteless.

Hockey Manitoba doesn't rule on minor hockey infractions, leaving the decision of how to proceed with Hockey Winnipeg and the minor hockey association involved. However, any Winnipeg minor hockey player who fights on the ice is suspended with increasing severity as per the number of infractions - one game for the first fight, two for the second fight, three for the third fight with a review that could result in a suspension or ban from the league.

This is where I'll weigh in. I had my share of scraps in my time, and I'm not the world's greatest fighter by any means. I was never, in my life, coached on how to fight either. Coaches, in my humble opinion, should be instructing players in how to be better players by teaching fundamentals and working on skills that will not only make the player a better hockey player, but a better all-around human being. Teamwork, work ethic, communication, problem solving, and the ability to listen may not seem like lessons that are being taught, but the good players learn these valuable lessons early and go on to greater heights.

I never once had a hockey coach teach me how to fight nor encourage me to fight. I learned how to fight by goofing off at the local rink with friends. It was there that I discovered something about hockey fighting that you never really see when two professional players go toe-to-toe: IT HURTS LIKE HELL!

Your fists and knuckles are sore and swollen most often, and getting punched is no fun either! I could fight because I have a pretty long reach and I'm a bigger guy, but I'll be the first guy to tell you that getting punched is not as glamorous as it looks on TV. And the results the next day aren't pretty either.

If I were ever to hear a coach telling a kid to fight, I'd have a serious problem with that. We saw how the Broad Street Bullies changed how the game of hockey was played in the 1970s, and it was a pretty ugly game when they were on top. Worse yet, the "Canadian way" of beating European teams into submission through physical and, sometimes, dirty play was proven to be ineffective against a skilled team like the Soviet Union. Skill can beat physicality on most nights, and that's what we should be teaching the next wave of players.

While I don't know who this coach is, I'm guessing he's going to be reprimanded for this "coaching". Personally, I'm not sure I'd be comfortable playing on a team where my coach wanted me to fight another player on my OWN TEAM, let alone any other team. The fact that one player may have been concussed should give this coach a lot of time off if the allegations hold true.

What say you, readers: should he be reprimanded and suspended if the evidence proves true, or is this a coach just teaching the boys to play the "Canadian way"? Let me know in the comments how you feel about this story!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Anonymous said...

Find the correct info before adding your comment

Anonymous said...

Get your facts correct before writing your blog! You are just as a bad as the rest of the media.

Teebz said...

Explain to me where I stated fact incorrectly. If you're referring to anything after "This is where I'll weigh in", you're probably aware that from that point on, it was my opinion.

Thanks for setting the record straight, though. The facts you both presented really help clear up any misconceptions.