As we know or at least are somehow aware, everything around us evolves in one way or another, shifts form and shape to something else.
So does the hockey — the players and hopefully the coaches as well.
The organizations that own the teams have done so: from being a club, they have grown to be a big, big company with varied grades of international repute no matter where they are situated.
I am quite sure that I am not alone with the following question that is always current: how will the game evolve in the future?
Well, as some say in some situations, and I’d like to bring it up as well; the future is already here. In this very moment as we experience it.
There are many talents, young prospects with a bright career in sight, and some of them have won titles already, and have been drafted high amongst the NHL organizations.
Closest in mind are of course Patrik Laine, Sebastian Aho, Jesse Puljujärvi, William Nylander and Austen Matthews if we count those names that have been on everyone’s tongue the last year.
My question about them for example: are we seeing a new generation of hockey players of a kind that we have never seen before?
In many ways, I’d like to answer yes to that question.
We saw it during the U20 World Championship in Helsinki, Finland, that they played a way we haven’t seen anything like before.
That provoked me to come to an insight about coaching, that also today’s coaches perhaps should modify their way of coaching. Not only just a bit. Perhaps totally different from what we are used to seeing?
I can understand – from a coaching point of view – that it is tempting to claim that the coach is behind the master plan for everything that happens on the ice and is responsible if they lose a game.
Moreover, it is also tempting to show off the front of the team and the other staff that you are skilled with the whiteboard and pen, by drawing a scheme that concerns 5 on 5, Power Play, Box Play or killing the opponents’ attempt to score at the end of the game.
But, that’s just a small part of the whole thing, and the players know all those things quite well, at least they should know if they are up at the pro level and not down at the pee-wee.
When it comes to those mentioned players above, I don’t think they need to see a playbook at first hand, they seem to be somehow too smart for that.
I think today’s coaches and the new generation of coaches should think much differently from the previous generation of coaches, as the most important thing for this kind of players, is to keep believing that they can do wonders on the ice, that they can use all their current capacity the best way they can.
And, most of all, that they are able to evolve those natural skills they have and keep forcing themselves to make it happen by extra training, whether it is skating, shooting or passing.
It requires some guts from a current coach to just let them play, guide them through though all moments that can occur on the ice, but give them liberty to discover by themselves what is working or not on the ice.
An added thought from all this:
My greatest fear is not that their teams would lose, but rather it would be a soul killer for me and probably for you as well to see these guys be dragged down by thousands of playbook pages and die in there.
If they would do the latter, it would surely be a devastating loss for the game we all love so much.
So, again, my mind about all this in other words:
Just let them play and they will give you, coach, more than you ever could ask for.
Perhaps old Herb Brooks would say this again if he were still alive, something every coach should be able to say to all of their exceptional talents that stand front of them:
You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours.
– Herb Brooks