Lets make celly!

About the goalie

IceHockey_GoalieWarmUps_01_300x350What about the goalie? Do you think about him/her? As a coach, do you make your goaltender a priority in your daily practice plans? Have you made it your business as a coach to think about how to nurture your netminders and help them be the best they can be? If you hope to win, in the end, you’ll only win with good to great goaltending. Nothing in hockey is ever accomplished without their good play. As a coach, it is important to think about how to make practice equally beneficial for your goaltenders.

I have been fortunate in the past year to witness many practices at many levels of play. I have seen youth, college women, college men, AHL, ECHL, NHL and now European pro, European junior and European youth. Way too often, even at the top pro levels, I have witnessed practices that I suspect not enough focused attention was given by the coaching staff on how to make the practice better for their goaltenders.

Most of us don’t know a lot about the technical aspects of being a goaltender and certainly are not

Hockey player conduct sportsmanship

635860399543734192-Handshake2013Over the years, I have written about this subject a couple of times. I believe that how athletes conduct themselves and their sportsmanship are important, starting at the lowest levels. In fact, the “training” of players concerning sportsmanship has to start at the Mite/Squirt levels by the coaches – and, just as importantly, by parents. And it needs to continue on through youth hockey and high school.


I believe that coaches that allow their players to “show off” in unacceptable ways after goals are not doing their jobs. It is OK to be happy, throw hands and stick up, bunch up with teammates, “bump” with teammates at the bench. However, the big “scoop” on one knee, jumping on the glass and other unacceptable antics show little respect for the teammates and the other team.


The same can be said for negative reactions. After penalties is the worst. Referees should give more “unsportsmanshiplike conduct” penalties to players and especially coaches. If a player/team loses, they need to learn to accept it – as a lesson and give the winner their credit. Extreme reaction is bad for team

10 Important Hockey Rules

HockeyPlayersA youth hockey coach doesn’t want to put players on the ice until they have some knowledge of hockey rules. This will foster a safe and strong playing environment.

USA Hockey requests in its rules that coaches do not overemphasis winning, but teach hockey skills and instruct players to play by the rules. Here are 10 important USA Hockey rules to get youngsters learning about the sport:

Holding the stick. It all starts with a player learning how to hold a hockey stick correctly. A player’s use of his hockey stick is limited to playing the puck and not gaining an unfair advantage against an opposing player’s body. The stick can’t be used to impede another player’s progress.

Broken stick. A player with a broken stick must drop it and remain on the ice without a stick until there is a stoppage in play. He may participate in the action once he drops the stick. A minor penalty will be imposed for an infraction of this hockey rule. During a stoppage of play, a forward or defenseman can go the bench to get a replacement stick, but the goaltender must

Shooting angles

At practice, we did something I have wanted to do for some time. I took some pictures from the puck’s perspective to show shooters what it is the puck actually sees. With today’s great camera technology, we took one of these new-fangled cameras and taped it to a stick. The results were even more dramatic than I anticipated.


I want you to first take a good look at the three pictures. What you see is a goalie in net and the open spaces the puck can see in the net. The camera is taped to the stick so it sees just what the puck would see. If you can see net, the puck can see net. If the puck can see net, and the player has enough skill to propel the puck to where we see net, without goalie reaction, we can score a goal. Simple.

As you look at these pictures you will see the following. In the first picture (above), you will see plenty of net  to shoot to. In the second picture and to an even greater degree in the third picture, the net disappears. What you need to know is that the goalie doesn’t move in any of

The NHL overtime and All Star Game format

Since first being played in 1947-48, NHL All-Star games have utilized many player and team selection processes. Prior to 2016, All-Star games were played as 5-on-5 games, and tended to be lower-scoring affairs until the mid- or late-1980s. Since then, recent All-Star games have tended to be high-scoring games with lower defensive intensity displayed. The final score of the 2015 game, for example, was 17-12. Certainly, this was not a game employing rigid traps and solid defensive zone schemes. The average score of the most recent 14 NHL All-Star Games is 10.1-7.7.


There are obvious reasons for the way these recent games have been played. Players want to avoid injury within an exhibition game, as salaries in the sport have escalated. They also have an 82-game regular season schedule to endure before the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Fans want to see goals scored and tremendous offensive skills executed. Yet something lacked without the defensive intensity in the game. For it is the combination of great speed and skill on offense attacking great speed and defensive will that make hockey the great game to play and watch.


The NHL has taken the progressive step of making this year’s All-Star Game a 3-on-3 tournament. Four

Richard Sherman and why more people should be fans of the NHL

As we come into Super Bowl week, there has been much said about Seattle Seahawks star cornerback Richard Sherman. There have been a variety of reactions and stories written regarding his post-NFC Championship Game comments to sideline reporter Erin Andrews. I suspect you saw the interview and have seen some of the various articles written in response. You may have an opinion of your own on the whole ordeal.

I don’t want to judge the young 24-year-old Sherman. He was interviewed in the heat of the moment, so to speak. It was just seconds after the end of a very emotional NFC Championship Game which came down to a last-second play – a play he made to help win the game for his team. I am not going to make a character assumption based upon a 10-second view of his actions. I know he and his life are many times more layered and complex than this one glimpse could ever tell us. I do know he didn’t handle this one short interview in a way we see most NHL players handle such interviews – that, I know.

It could be argued that hockey has in many ways been behind the other major

A call for some new hockey stats

Most teams keep statistics. Many of these stats give us information we can use. It is common for teams to record and know face-offs won, hits, shots on goal, and of course, the ultimate stat – the score. Some of these stats have been kept for ages, some are newer. The information provided in these stats can tell us lots of things. I, for example, often look at a forward’s stat sheet at the end of a night and look at the S column, which stands for “shots” on goal. I look not only at the individual, but also his/her entire line.


As a forward, you want to be generating chances, and that often is reflected in shots on goal for the line. Lines can have good nights in generating chances and still not show up on the main scoresheet in terms of goals and assists. As a coach, I always wanted to know which lines were generating shots and scoring chances … and for our opponents, too!


I like looking at time on ice (TOI). This is a great stat to see how valuable a player was to his team on a given night. It is also a great stat for

So you want to be a pro hockey player

I have been fortunate in my career. I have coached many great young people, many of whom have gone on to play professional hockey. While I have spent only one year as a coach at the pro level, my experience in the industry as a whole and the relationships with many of my former players have shaped my views of the industry.


Now make no mistake, if you make it to the NHL, the money is great and you are pampered as far as the experience goes. As much as the players are pampered, much is expected of them in return for their performance. It is big money with big expectations. There is nothing easy about it … but all of us would take the money that comes with it!


Fact is, however, that most players spend most of the professional time in the various “minor” leagues or in Europe. Most never make it to the NHL. There are a lot of funny things that go on in the minor leagues … enough funny things that you could make a number of interesting movies from the various experiences from various players, except the best movie has already been made – “Slap Shot.”

Keeping a hockey journal

Are you journaling? If you are not, it is one of the very first things I suggest you consider as you begin your new season of self-improvement and development.


Journals serve at least two purposes. One, they can serve as a “blueprint” for your plan going forward. Second, they serve as your personal history book, recording your thoughts and actions over time. And of course, we study history to learn about what works and what does not.


I have worked with groups of athletes at several different age and skill levels in the past few weeks and it has been interesting for me to see where they each are at emotionally and physically. I try and get my groups journaling as soon as I can. I learn much about what they think about, how they view things and how I might help them as a coach.


I try and assist them in what kinds of things they can learn through their journals. As an example, I ask each of my students to record their overall performance each day in either practice or games. I ask them simply to rate themselves 1-10. Then I ask them to break that down by their emotional excitement

Thoughts on hockey parents

My first thought for the week is to congratulate and thank Gina Boots for her submission in last week’s edition of Let’s Play Hockey. Her articulation of her perspective was awesome. The issue with parents being too involved or just “too” has always been and always will be. I hope and wish her words will help. But I have my strong reservations.


The best of parents have many of the same impulses to protect their own and to hope for success for their own kids; they just channel their impulses in healthier ways. If you are a parent of a young hockey player, I would urge you to go back and read Gina’s words from a week ago. The problem is that the parents who need to read this the most will either not read it or assume that the subject matter refers to those “other” people. It is a frustrating subject because the ones who don’t get it, don’t get it.


Let me digress … slightly. The same lack of vision and understanding affects players. Players with vision see what they do and also see much of what they cannot or did not accomplish. The players without vision mostly see neither.

Top 10 important coaching priorities

For all coaches, maybe this top 10 of coaching priorities will help provide some focus. I had a hard time prioritizing the top five. They all seem pretty important. Actually, all 10 seem pretty important.


  1. Teach the basic concepts of hockey. If you are not capable of teaching a proper 2-on-1 attack, for example, find an assistant who is. Good, but not complex systems, faceoff strategies, etc., are important if youngsters are to play the game well and enjoy it. I hear many high school coaches bemoaning the fact that the players coming to them from Bantams don’t understand the game. I saw (as a high school coach) some players with great deficiencies, others with few. I think the percentages haven’t changed much over the years. Defensive zone coverage and proper 2-on-1 attacks seem to be the concepts least understood – or at least properly utilized.


  1. Teach the basic skills of hockey. This is a pretty easy one to say and understand. However, coaches need to understand that there is a progression. It is feet to hands to head. That means skating skills are required before hand skills (shooting, passing, puck-handling, dekes, etc.) can be reasonably taught and

Our hockey icons are passing

When J.P. Parise died recently on a cold January day in Minnesota, it got me to thinking about our hockey icons in Minnesota. Like J.P., I didn’t grow up and play my youth hockey here. Actually, I played my youth hockey (no high school leagues) in Sault Ste. Marie and then at the University of Wisconsin. I have been here (almost) continually since 1982, however, and have a pretty good handle on the important hockey people in Minnesota.


Parise was not one of the biggest icons in the state, but he was one of the most beloved. He played for our long-lost North Stars and was a gritty and rugged forward even though he was not big. He played big and hard, just like his son. He made people happy and excited to watch NHL Hockey. He loved hockey and spent his whole life with it. He then did something that has been important to development of hockey here and across the U.S. He was the early Director of Hockey Operations, and for a while coach, at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, Minn. Shattuck-St. Mary’s has developed dozens of NHL players including “The Kid” over the years. I took a high

Dealing with team unity

Every hockey team is made up of 15 to 25 individuals that must operate as a whole to get the best performance. As all coaches know, this is not automatic, nor is it easy to attain. Some teams (such as high school) have players that have been together at least every other year for 6-10 years. Sometimes this helps unity, sometimes it hurts.


On the negative side, old “cliques” sometimes evolve that can create walls between groups of players. On the positive side, the players get to know each other well and can become much like a family that will pull together in important situations.


The enemies of team unity are:


  • Weak leadership from the coaches. Coaches have to work for and encourage team togetherness. Lack of close scrutiny and influence by coaches leaves too high a likelihood of problems through “natural” process.  Working on team unity is a part of coaching.


  • Weak leadership from the captains. Sometimes this problem is due to having the wrong captains. Players don’t always vote with good sense as to who would be the best leaders. Often it is a popularity contest. If coaches pick captains, they may not realize who the real or best leaders are.


  • The older/better

Hockey Coaching Tips for Forming Power Play Lines

Running a power play with youth hockey players is about having discipline. Not just with the players, but the head coach, too.

A youth hockey coach faces the decision of how to structure his power play lines. Should he put his top three forwards on the first line, with No. 4 to 6 on the second line, and so on? Should he split the top three forwards among his lines? Should he do the same with defensemen?

Members of the highly successful Chicago Mission Tier I AAA hockey program, which has racked up Illinois state titles, believe youth coaches should resist making changes to their regular lines during power plays. Its members stress that youth hockey players are still learning the sport – power plays and penalty kills included – and the best coaching philosophy is to keep together the team’s regular lines to involve all the players.

“We let everybody play the power play,” says the program’s former director, Anders Sorensen, adding coaches don’t want to specialize their special teams before high school age, even on the travel hockey level.

Chico Adrahtas from the Chicago Mission didn’t even do that when he coached on the midget level for 16-, 17- and 18-year-olds. “Our job is to develop

Top producing players prove age is just number

It is very hard to compete in today’s NHL beyond age 35. Even if a player can contribute, most teams prefer to invest roster space in a young, developing, more affordable player. Only the very best players can continue to remain a factor into his late 30s.

There are 40 skaters and two goalies 35 or older (as of Nov. 11). There are 33 players age 20 or younger. Remaining in the League past age 35 is only slightly less difficult than breaking in as a teenager.

There are several players who manage to get his name on the score sheet past age 35, including three who are leading their team in scoring: Vancouver Canucks forward Daniel Sedin, Detroit Red Wings forward Henrik Zetterberg, and Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr, who at 43 last February is more than four years older than the League’s next oldest player, Dan Boyle of the New York Rangers, who turned 39 in July.

Using these traditional stats and some of NHL.com’s enhanced stats, we came up with a 35-and-older all-star team of three forwards, two defensemen and one goalie.

Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings, 35: Zetterberg led Detroit in scoring by five points over Gustav Nyquist and Dylan

A study in puck luck for Ducks

Despite a 3-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center on Wednesday, the Anaheim Ducks hold the NHL lead with a 25-5-3 record since the League paused for its three-day Christmas break from Dec. 23-25.

The current run is a far sight from the 12-15-6 record Anaheim compiled to start the season, a mark which kept the Ducks one point ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets for last place.

On the surface, the Ducks appear to be two different teams, but the underlying numbers haven’t really changed, revealing what Anaheim has really been this entire season.

In reality, the Ducks have always been one of the top six teams in the League but just couldn’t get any puck luck in the opening months.

Going into the season, it was universally believed the Ducks were among the top Stanley Cup contenders. Coming off a third straight season atop the Pacific Division, and having taken the eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks to the limit in a seven-game series in the Western Conference Final, the Ducks were seen as one of the teams to beat.

They had great coaching, the top-line duo of Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, and a solid young lineup that

Turn Your Youth Hockey Goalie Into a Weapon

With how the sport has changed, ice hockey goalies are being asked to do more than just stop the puck and prevent goals.

Unlike in the past, goaltenders from the NHL to youth hockey are getting asked to leave the net and play the puck, something that can be disastrous if done incorrectly.

NHL goalie Ilyya Bryzgalov shooting the puck off an opponent and into his own net in the 2012 playoffs is an example of how goalies playing the puck can be an adventure that many coaches don’t want to experience.

However, the positives of this skill can outweigh the negatives if a goalie is taught how to play the puck correctly, clearing dump-ins to teammates and possibly even setting up goals on the other end.

“It’s a skill that is becoming more and more important,” Joe Messina, the director of the Bandits Goalie School in Michigan, said. “Some coaches don’t know how to teach it, but if a young kid can start right away, then it eliminates some of those YouTube-worthy bad goals you see on giveaways.”

Youth hockey coaches can help their goalies become skilled stickhandlers. The goalies need to recognize both the similarities and differences between their position and other players on

5 offensive tips that will make you a better hockey player

The hockey road winds along an endless ocean of tiny tips and terrible advice, not unlike playing golf. Whether it’s “keep your head down” or “always head-man the puck,” the staples are pretty legitimate, but of the ones on the fringes, which have value? Should you always keep your tees in your left pocket? (No.) Should you learn to pick the puck up on your blade and whip it lacrosse style? (Also not necessary.)

Below are five offensive tidbits I came across that I found to actually work. Take what you like for yourself, and feel free to discard the rest.

Take the puck across the net

Whether you’ve beaten a defender wide or just happen to find yourself approaching the net with the puck and some speed, you should almost always take the puck across the crease if you can.

When goalies come out to challenge a shooter, particularly if they trust that a defensive player will be able to block a player from cutting across the net, they tend to come out fairly aggressively. If your sole mindset is to get across the crease and tuck one in, you just may be able to. Even if the goaltender doesn’t come out hard, cutting

How to Play Hockey Pulling the Goalie

It’s a strategy that seems to energize everybody playing, coaching or watching ice hockey: pulling the goalie.

But to bring on an extra forward and try to gain an advantage to score a goal, a youth hockey team has to know how to run the strategy correctly. The team that pulls its goalie leaves its net empty, so it’s not for the weak of stomach.

(Instruct the best coaching techniques through PlaySportsTV hockey training plans. Before the puck drops, a goaltender should know how to prepare the crease.)

Hockey teams generally won’t pull their goaltender off the ice until it’s late in a game and they are trailing in a game with which they likely need a win or a tie. A hockey team down one goal might wait until the final 60 to 90 seconds to pull its goalie. If a team is down two goals, it might do it with two minutes or more remaining. Of course, it isn’t safe to pull a goalie unless the puck is at the far end of the ice.

Jeff Lindquist, head ice hockey coach of the highly successful Bloomington (Minn.) Jefferson High School program, suggests that a team practice the technique during its hockey drills and

When Ice Hockey Was A Summer Sport

As the 2012 Summer Olympic Games get set to kick off tonight in London it’s hard to imagine a bunch of hockey players lacing up their skates and grabbing their sticks to compete in an international competition with national pride and glory on the line.

Ice hockey will not be on the docket in London, even though many fans would love some hockey to carry them through the dog days of summer.

And as curious as it would be to see how fast Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt may be on skates, we will have to wait until the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia to get our Olympic ice hockey fix.

However, 92 years ago Olympic ice hockey was born not during those cold winter months but rather in Antwerp, Belgium during the 1920 Olympic Summer Games.

At the time, the Winter Olympics were nonexistent so figure skating athletes and ice hockey players were invited to compete in Belgium instead.

When the 1916 Olympic Games were cancelled due to World War I, the first ice hockey tournament was shelved until the 1920 Games, as was the first World Championship. Previously the Ligue International de Hockey sur Glace, founded in 1908 and now known as