Saturday, May 18, 2019

Reconciliation in Hockey (Part 2 of 6)

Part 2-Call to Action 87

87. We call upon all levels of government, in collaboration with Aboriginal peoples, sports halls of fame, and other relevant organizations, to provide public education that tells the national story of Aboriginal athletes in history.

     When I was younger, my aunt, Sheila Erickson, contributed a series of her poems to a book entitled, Notice; This is an Indian Reserve, in which the title was taken from actual signage that was hung around reserves in Canada. One of the lines of the poem went, “When you tell our stories, don’t rhyme the words too close together, or you won’t leave enough room for us to tell our stories!” It’s a line and statement that has spoken to me throughout my life as the meaning is quite simple; probably everything that you have ever read or viewed about Aboriginal people in Canada has not been told or written by Aboriginal people for the most part. This of course has lead to many misunderstandings, half-truths, while great positive stories about Aboriginal people and their great contributions to Canada and Canadian history have simply been forgotten or passed over. Ask any average Canadian today about the contributions of Aboriginal people and you’re bound to hear stories about blockades, militant actions, or nuisances who are holding back industry and development in Canada. 

     Sadly, you never hear about how snowshoes and birch bark canoes as being pieces of sports technology both invented and introduced to the Canadian lexicon, by First Nations people. Both those inventions were used considerably by the first explorers in Canada, to promote Canada’s first post-contact industry, the fur trade and without them, the history of this country would have been quite different. Although snow shoes were invented by First Nations, their adoption by Europeans lead to the creation of many snowshoes clubs across Canada and were some of the first ever sports clubs created. In terms of popularity, snowshoeing was one of the first sports to have clubs throughout the entire nation. As sport in Canada moved from an
amateur-based model to one that was largely commercialized, many sports left behind their roots and moved towards a secularized model that exists today (even though some sports such as hockey have a fervour that borders on religious fanaticism). As this occurred, many sports left behind their early roots and were adopted for the many new inhabitants that began to call Canada home. One such sport is lacrosse.
My daughter with a billion
snowshoes steps in her DNA.

     Forever the official summer sport of Canada, Lacrosse, was originally a game (Bagataway-The Creators Game) played by the Iroquois Nation as an exercise that was part spiritual exercise, part physical training, part military training, but pure exhilaration to anyone who played it. Lacrosse though, found itself the victim of amateurism and the Lord's Day Act (Downey 2015), which in essence were two attempts to curb sports among the early working class in Canada, but could also be seen as an attempt by church and state as a means to assimilate Indigenous people in Canada. Many eligibility rules were designed to exclude First Nations from participation in sports which ironically included sports that had their origins in First Nations culture. Native players were only added in an act of tokenism to add “Indianess” to the sport, but because First Nations players were considered professional, they were never allowed to fully participate. There has even been talk in some circles that lacrosse was a predecessor to the sport of hockey, but that’s for another discussion. Sadly though, even lacrosse’s origins have largely been forgotten outside of a small segment of the Canadian population, even though it has always been Canada’s national sport.

     Where does this lead us in terms of reconciliation today and in particular, hockey? Well for one, the history and stories of Aboriginal athletes need to be told to all Canadians and in particular the contributions they made to Canadian society. Canadians need to be told about great athletes like Tom Longboat, who at his heyday was simply the best runner in the world and whose training methodology, a method he was criticized greatly for, became the standard type of training methodology that is followed by runners the world over to this day. In the hockey world, we often see shining examples of great players such as Carey Price, Bryan Trottier, and Reg Leach, but we don’t hear about the struggles those players made just to exist in a sport that was taught to their ancestors as a means of assimilation. We don’t hear their stories of how they sought to succeed in a world that was very foreign to them and how they faced racism. It is only now that we are beginning to see the life of Fred Sasakamoose celebrated throughout the hockey world and it is a travesty that the National Hockey League (NHL) does not list Fred Sasakamoose as an official ambassador for diversity in sport. Those stories matter to those players and they should matter to every Canadian who loves hockey. They create understanding and that understanding leads to a curiosity that steers people into learning more about others and how their ways of life may be different. Those who do that, no matter what their position in life is, are the better for it. If we allow ourselves to listen to others and let them really tell their stories, we will not fill in the spaces where the truth should exist.

     What does that mean in practical terms? It means that Aboriginal people should be featured prominently in the annals of Canadian sports history and see why Fred Sasakamoose matters, why there is an award named after Tom Longboat (which should bring up other discussions about reconciliation as pointed out by Janice Forsyth (2015)), why Carey Price uttered the words, “Snachailya” at the 2015 NHL Awards (what does that mean anyway?). Some associations, such as BC Hockey, have been proactive in their approach by not only creating an Indigenous Partnership Working Group that has created an Indigenous Impact and Legacy Award, which allows and highlights incredible stories to be told about Indigenous people, by Indigenous people. This is one such initiative that is fairly easy to do, but the impact it has leads to activities that lead to a better understanding and ultimately reconciliation. Many of these stories have already been told, but perhaps the words have been rhymed too closely together to this point. Let’s allow those stories to be told again, and this time, let’s ensure there is enough space to tell the whole story! All one has to do is listen and have an open mind.
Mr. Hockey with one of my former players,
In a RUSSIAN jersey?  Ask me the story,
And I'd gladly tell you!

BC Hockey Creates Indigenous Participation Work Group

DOWNEY, A. (2015). Playing the Creator’s Came on God’s Day: The Controversy of Sunday Lacrosse Games in Haudenosaunee Communities, 1916-24. Journal of Canadian Studies, 49(3), 111–143.

Forsyth, J. (2015). Make the Indian Understand his Place: Politics and the Establishment of the Tom Longboat Awards at Indian Affairs and the Amateur Athletic Union of Canada. Sport in History, 35(2), 241.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Reconciliation in Hockey (Part 1 of 6)

Reconciliation in hockey

Welcome to my blog.  Maybe you have been here before and maybe you haven’t.  If this is your first time here, welcome to some ramblings by me on hockey, coaching, and life in general.  If you’ve been here before, welcome back and welcome to this journey you may not have been on before.  Usually you see ramblings on coaching, so this topic is a bit of a departure for me, but one that is highly personal.  Reconciliation is a big topic among First Nations in Canada and the reality is it should be a big topic for any Canadian.  The Calls to Action report released by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2015 call for 94 distinct actions that range from child welfare, education, business, sports, and a variety of other issues.  As I am a self-professed “Sports Nut” (a title given to me by my late father) who loves sport to the point that I spend countless hours reading, watching, researching, playing, coaching, and obsessing over, I feel that I might have something to offer to all you fellow sports nuts (and in particular, hockey nuts) who are looking for a way to do your part for reconciliation.

     Who am I and why does my opinion matter?  Well first of all I am a descendent of a residential school survivor.  My grandma was Sally Erickson (Prince) and she attended Lejac Residential School from the ages of 3-18 after which time she left without a Grade 12 diploma (standard practice), but instead left with a whole cadre of memories, none of which she shared with anyone for reasons that she brought with her to her grave.  Shockingly, in spite of her treatment in school, my grandma became a huge advocate for education for not only her children, but her grandkids as well.  She was a loving, kind person who tried her best to make the best out of life that was broken by others who found my grandma’s only defects were that she was born into the wrong race.  Because my grandma married a non-status “Indian” she lost her status which was somewhat a blessing in disguise as it spared my mom and her siblings, and ultimately me and my siblings, the horrors of attending residential school.  While that was nice, my grandma suffered the fallout that comes with being separated from your family, which affected her relationships with her kids, which in turn got passed onto me.  I live with that legacy, but due to the teachings of many, my parents included, I have been blessed to live a great life filled with great sporting experiences.  I have witnessed firsthand the positive influence sports can have on a person.

     I have some familiarity with the TRC Calls to Action (all 94 of them), but my strength lies in the ones that deal with sports.  Although I do not have a career in sports, my passion in life has always been in sports.  I have played, coached, watched, planned, organized, taught, and obsessed over sports my entire life.  My late Uncle Archie was the first to introduce me to sports and I’ve been hooked ever since.  Even my education (BA in Phys Ed, Masters in Sports Science) has followed the pathway of sports.  My big sport is hockey, in which I have coached various kids and adults throughout the years.  I am certified as an Advanced Level 1 (now High Performance 1) coach and have also instructed many other coaches throughout the years.  I currently sit on a Hockey BC committee on creating reconciliation through hockey.  I also instruct Kinesiology 121-Sports & Leisure at the local college to hopefully teach the next round of teachers, coaches, physiotherapists, trainers, sports nuts, how sports can make a positive change in people's lives.  Now that I have introduced myself, let’s look at reconciliation in hockey.
Let's play guess the writer.

Sports are a reflection of society and hopefully in some cases, society reflects many of the positive values that can be found in sports.  Values such as fair play, team work, goal setting, and hard work are often held up by many in sports as positive side effects from sport.  Sometimes though, sports make a statement about society that causes us to reflect and re-evaluate the way we view ourselves, our neighbourhoods, and our society in general.  Moments like Katherine Switzer completing the Boston Marathon made society take a hard look at how we view gender and the many inequities that exist and still exist between genders.  When Muhammad Ali refused to fight in Vietnam and gave up the best years of his career, he brought the issues of race, freedom of religious choice, and non-violent protest to the foreground of a country that was struggling with those issues in a dark corner no one wanted to explore for the fear of confronting an ugly reality.  Finally, one of the greatest acts of reconciliation in sport has to be the moment in the 1995 World Cup of Rugby when the great Nelson Mandela, a man who suffered through over 20 years in an oppressive regime who chose to lock him up because his ideals were the truth, pulled on a Springbok jersey in clear view of an entire nation that was still struggling with the idea of correcting a historical wrong through means that didn’t involve civil violence and war.  The scorebook shows that South Africa won the match at Ellis Park 12-15 in extra time, but the scorebook only tells a small part of the overall story that played out that day.  History has shown that it was a seminal moment in the move towards reconciliation for South Africa.  It was one of many parts of reconciliation that has taken place since 1994, but a small sporting gesture proved to have far reaching ripples into the ocean of reconciliation.

How is hockey, a sport that was part of a larger effort of assimilation by the Canadian government (Te Hiwi, Forsyth, 2017), going to be part of the reconciliation efforts called for by the Call to Action (Truth and Reconciliation Canada, 2015), and in particular sections 87-91 that call for reconciliation in sport?  How do we move beyond the hopefully outdated practice of referring to Aboriginal hockey players as, “Chief”, or having mascots and logos that are offensive to indigenous communities, into an era where indigenous people fall under Hockey Canada’s mission statement of, “To Lead, Develop, and Promote positive hockey experiences”?  Good question, and one I hope to help you along the path to your answer.  I must warn you though as I may challenge your thinking or take you to place of discomfort, but like a good coach, I promise you the end result will be worth it!

     The format here will be pretty simple.  I will start with the Action from the TRC Calls to Action report, then give you my opinion on how this could work in hockey.  I value your opinions on these matters, so please leave a comment, but of course, please be respectful of my and of other posters.  Reconciliation will take much work and it is something all of us should work towards.  The more dialogue we can start on this, the better.  If you are a sports nut like me, the great part is you can be part of reconciliation in Canada!

Forsyth, J., & Heine, M. (2017). ‘The only good thing that happened at school’: colonising narratives of sport in the Indian School Bulletin. British Journal of Canadian Studies, 30(2), 205–225.

Te Hiwi, B., & Forsyth, J. (2017). “A Rink at this School is Almost as Essential as a Classroom”: Hockey and Discipline at Pelican Lake Indian Residential School, 1945-1951. Canadian Journal of History, 52(1), 80–108.

Truth and Reconciliation Canada. (2015). Honouring the truth, reconciling for the future: Summary of the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Winnipeg: Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

The Boys on the Bus

If you’re a fan of the Edmonton Oilers, you remember the documentary about them in the 80’s called, “The Boys on The Bus!”.  It chronicled a year of following the team around as they went from a low point to the highest of highs in winning the Stanley Cup.  It was a great film in that it showed the inside look at the many personalities that make up a hockey team.  Sure hockey is a team sport and we do for the most part, cheer for the logo on the front, but we all like to see the inside look into these athletes and in some ways relate to them on a human level.  Goodness knows we certainly couldn’t relate to them on a physical level.  The Boys on The Bus was an appropriate title, because it speaks volumes to the sanctity that is the team bus, and how the bus itself is an exercise in team bonding that even Tony Robbins couldn’t manage. There’s something magical about that first bus ride with a new roster in the fall.  Some kids nervous as it is their first time playing rep, the vets who sit in the back and rule their roost, and the coaches using bus behaviour as a possible measuring stick of team cohesiveness.  When you're going to a different town to play and you don't know a soul, the place of refuge, is the bus.

I’ve heard it called may things in my time; the iron lung, Sparky’s Speedster, the pig, the yellow submarine, and so on.  I’ve had the privilege of being able to sit back while driven places by drivers named ETA Norm, Rocket Mike, and Mister Mike.  One of the best memories was of Mister Mike and I coming back from a tourney where the bus had issues and our ETA was moved from midnight to 4AM.  Everyone, and I mean everyone was asleep except Mike and I.  He was an older retired fellow from Ireland and to pass the time and keep ourselves awake, Mike taught me the words to “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” and we filled the air with our voices as we drove through the darkness.  It still remains one of my favorite hockey memories to this day.

There’s nothing special about the buses themselves unless you have a generous team manager or team willing to lend you one of their super coaches, which are a definite step up from the modified school buses I’ve ridden (nothing says iron sides like riding on a foam seat for 10 hours when the expiration on the foam is about 2 hours).  Adventures on the bus are another thing as well.  I’ve been in those bad boys when the heater blew leaving the bus about as cold inside as outside, or the time a spark plug lodged loose and yours truly crawled underneath to not only find the problem, but also thread it back into place and tighten it, all at 2AM in the morning on a dark highway.  One could write a book about the adventures on a bus.  They are part and parcel of the sporting experience.

After this weekend’s tragedy involving the Humdboldt Broncos, we are left with many questions, heavy hearts, and much sorrow, particularly those who have ridden the bus to get to a game.  No one ever expects that to happen and I pray it never happens again.  Why do we feel such closeness to these young men whom we never met?  Quite simple really.  We feel for the parents who let their kids play sports knowing full well that injury is part of sports, and really hoping injuries are never too serious.  We feel for the young lives of these young men who were living out their hockey dreams in a time of such innocence.  Those of us in the coaching fraternity feel for the coaches who take on a monumental task of not only producing good players but also excellent human beings.  We feel for the statiscian, team announcer, and driver, who may not feel they are part of the team per se, but are as valued as anyone else.  Most of all, because this was a team from a small town, we all feel like they were members of our small town due to the closeness of not only the hockey community, but from that small town feeling most Canadians have ingrained into their DNA.  We can all relate and we all know we can all help in whatever way we can.
Leaving some sticks out for the boys to play

I sit here this evening still numb from two days ago and I really should be preparing to teach tomorrow, but I just can’t.  The pain is too much right now. As one who lost their dad to a MVA just a little over a year ago, I know all too well the pain those families are feeling right now after receiving the phone call no one wants to hear.  It shakes you to the core of your being and life is never the same.

To close, my utmost prayers are to the community of Humboldt and the players families.  I would also like to thank all first responders who have given so much these last few days.  Bless each and every one of you.

Now if you’ll excuse me, like many others have done these last two days, I’m going outside to leave some hockey sticks out for the boys in case they drop by and need one.


Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Letter to my Dad

Today is a sad day for me.  Exactly one year ago today, I woke up, got ready for work, went to work, then proceeded to drive home after picking up my daughter.  As we sat there, my phone rang with my uncle's number.  "He never calls me, so what's up?", was my original thought.  Well, in about a minute (it all seems like such a blur now), my aunt informed me that my Dad was killed in a motor vehicle accident.  Those of you who have lost a parent know exactly what happens.  You are left in a state of shock, disbelief, and an overwhelming sense of despair and sadness.  It is a sadness and pain you may have never felt before in your life and it is something that you will never forget either.  This past year has been a tough one for me and my two sisters, Mavis and Elsa.  Losing a parent is insanely hard, but we have all been surrounded by many great friends and family and have felt great support and love through this past year.   

Those of you who know me for my sports writing (like this blog) and know me from either coaching with me, being coached by me, or being a team mate, want to ask the obvious question?  What sport did your dad enjoy the most? 
Wearing my "Big Bay" style hockey gloves.
I bet he was a big hockey 
fan.  Well, to be quite honest with you, my dad wasn't a big sports fan, and his involvement with hockey was primarily through my involvement.  As a teenager so into sports, I have to admit that sometimes I drug my dad into the sports world a little too much.  However, he was a willing participant even if the cost of my sports probably cost him a lot.  He once told me he'd rather be picking me up at the rink rather than the police station so sports were good for me to be involved in.

My dad grew up in Northern Alberta near the town of Lac La Biche and in particular, he was born and raised in a place called, Big Bay (the nearest railroad station is listed as Barnegat as it says on my dad's birth certificate).  Dad was a pretty smart kid.  He would never say it, but consider this.  He didn't start school until he was 10 years old and spoke very little English (Cree was his first language).  In spite of this, he did 6 grades in 4 years, and probably would have went further, but as was the case for many 14 year old's who stood 6'1" and weighed close to 200lbs, he went to work.  One highlight of his time in school though, was his time playing baseball for the school team.  He played first base, could throw a ball a mile, and he could hit it a ton.  I'd say he was a 3-tool player from what I gathered, and he did all he could to teach me the basics of playing ball.  I often remember standing in the yard with my dad and sister playing catch and dad encouraging us both.  My sister was a pretty good ballplayer when we were kids and she and I played one season together and we both did pretty well.  I think we were both happy to get our ball uniforms and our dad was pretty proud to see our names on the back knowing he gave us both our start in the sport. 

Uncle Archie's company sponsored many sports teams
and some of them went to to win National titles.
However, my dad didn't always have the time to sit and watch sports and before I was born he would often go and visit his cousin, Archie, who was a sports nut and loved to watch hockey.  It drove my dad nuts because Archie wouldn't talk to him while the game was on.  Archie, who I called Uncle Archie, who tell me years later, that my dad would leave his place frustrated as Uncle Archie wasn't good company.  He thought it was absolutely hilarious, that my dad's son, would totally emulate his behaviour once I grew up and started watching sports of my own.  To hear my dad tell the story was a treat as  my dad was an excellent storyteller and had a memory like an elephant. 

Well, I soon began playing sports and when we made our move from the province of my birth (Alberta) to my adopted and forever hometown of Fort St. James, BC, the best thing in the world happened; I got to play hockey.  I was a late starter at 9 and the other kids on the ice started much younger, but my dad listened carefully as my coach said I should get new skates, so that weekend off we went to Beck's Hardware and my dad carefully laid out a small ransom, so I could get a brand new pair of molded Lange skates (I'm wearing them in the picture to the right). 
Me as a PeeWee wearing my beloved Lange Skates
My coach also told my dad that I should go to public skating and just skate as much as I could, so my dad, for the next 4 consecutive winters, would drive me to the old Fort Forum, give me a dollar and say he'd pick me up at 8:10 precisely (public skating went from 6:00-8:00).  When you consider that admission was 25 cents,
 a large pop was 35 cents and a bag of ships was 25 cents, my Friday nights were awesome growing up.  As I skated lap after lap chasing dreams of being the next Lafleur (and later on chasing the cute girls around the ice), a strange thing happened.  I got better and better on the ice and I actually became a hockey player.  Through it all, there were my parents helping me every step of the way.  Driving me to practices, games, footing the bills for fees, equipment, and doing all they could to help their hockey mad son.  My dad though sometimes used this to his advantage when he told me splitting and packing firewood and hauling water would make me stronger and a better player (Yes, my dad was Dallas Eakins before there was a Dallas Eakins), and it did. 

Whatever sport I played (and I played a lot of them), Dad was always there to help me along the way, and he like me cheered for the Oilers, Eskimos, Expos and Blue Jays.  It was our common theme and we would chat about who was good (Gretzky, Coffey, Warren Moon, Gary Carter, Josh Donaldson), who was bad (Carson, Pocklington, Vernon Wells), and who we totally disagreed on (Hall, and too many to mention).  As I got older and moved away from home, our calls were often about the Oilers and the Blue Jays and it was good for me to chat with him about sports. 
Dad with his Sportsnet-Focused pair!
After our daughter was born there was more talk about her, but my dad laughed when he held his 
grand daughter on his knee while Sportsnet was on TV, and she turned and intently watched the highlights playing on the screen, and all at six months of age.  He smiled a sly smile, pointed at her and said, "I can tell this is your kid!", and he went into his story of Uncle Archie watching sports once again all the while laughing at his pride and joy, his grand daughter.    
I can't tell you now, just how much I miss those phone calls, especially now with the Oilers having a player like Connor McDavid.  His brilliant play reminded Dad and I so much about the Gretzky days, and how I saw the Oilers win 4 out of their 5 cups while watching with my dad.  That was the topic most discussed on our last year of calls.  It seems trivial to others, and to some they might wonder why of all the things I miss, that stands out the most.  Well, to me, my dad was also my coach in sports and life.  He coached me very hard in the game of life, but he also loved me harder.  You see, my dad was not what you would call overly affectionate, but I always knew he had my best interests in mind.  Like a good coach, he knew when to push me hard (doing adult chores as a child), and when to loosen the grip (letting me go skiing when I had time off for Christmas break).  Those phone calls were just a way of asking my dad advice and to check in and see how my life was going.  As I get older, I reflect on how our relationship that went from hotheaded prima dona me, to one where I enjoyed being around my dad more than just about anyone else.  I wanted to please him, to show him that he did a good job raising me, and that I was someone he could be proud of.  Those calls were my affirmation.  My rewards.   

That begs the question I put forward earlier, was my dad a hockey nut and a sports fan.  Not necessarily.  However, he was one of my biggest fans, and he was a coach unlike any other I have had in my life, and what you see today when you see me, is the reflection of that. 

I miss you Dad, and I will always Love you! 
Your Son 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Oilers' Defence Prospect Caleb Jones is Developing Nicely

Once again a big thank you to Bruce McCurdy for asking me to do this again.  I always enjoy writing about hockey and trying to find the little nuances that make a player.

The Oilers have made the playoffs after wandering the desert for 10 long seasons, but the new era under Bob Nicholson and Peter Chiarelli has found some nice additions via the draft, and one I believe is Caleb Jones.

Without further ado, here is the latest scouting update on 2015 Oilers draft pick Caleb Jones. You can find the article at The Cult of Hockey

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Guest Article in Edmonton Journal's "Cult of Hockey"

Here is another Article I have written for the Edmonton Journal. This one is on Ethan Bear, who is a prospect for the Oilers.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

As always a big thank you to Bruce McCurdy for asking me for my thoughts.

Ethan Bear Continues To Impress

Monday, December 03, 2012

Skating Evaluation Drill

     Have you ever began a season and wondered just how good a skating team you have?  Of the five basic technical skills of hockey (skating, shooting, passing, stickhandling, and checking), skating should be the skill you evaluate the most it should be the skill you work the hardest at.  My reasoning for this is simple:  If you can can skate well in hockey, it makes learning/performing all the other technical skills easy.  If you don't believe me, ask yourself how well you can check without excellent skating skills?

     The problem with evaluating skating is that there are very few drills out there that can give a quick look without taking up copious amounts of ice time.  If you've done evaluations, you know the frustration of having to evaluate 40 kids on a single sheet of ice, who sometimes may or may not have a jersey number, or a different coloured jersey depending on position.  The reality is that sometimes you may see a player skate for 10 seconds out of a 90 minute tryout.  

     The drill shown below is one of my favorites and one that I use for pee wee and up.  The older players will gripe about the simplicity of this drill, but they need to be reminded that part of any tryout is attitude and willingness to do drills the coach wants them to do.  It's not like you are making them run the gauntlet.  You just want to see what they are capable of.   You can also use this drill from time to time to evaluate the skating skills of your players at different times during the season.  The beauty is that you can use a stopwatch if you want to, but you will generally see great progress as the season moves on.  This is also a great drill to use to evaluate a players readiness to return to play after recovering from an injury.  This drill is taken from Hockey Canada's Skills Development manuals (an excellent resource for any coach!).

      I apologize for the crudeness of the drawing, but there is a glossary in the upper right corner to help you make sense of it all.
Magic X Skating Drill
      I usually place the cones a little closer together as to reduce time, space, and sometimes speed.  You can place the cones further apart as your players progress. One key teaching point I forgot to include above is, "heads up", as players in their pursuit of speed might keep their head down.

     Yes Martha my dear, there are progressions to the this drill.  Add these variations to the drill to make the drill harder or to look for certain skating elements:
  • Two foot jumps over the cones (heads up on the middle cone)
  • Tight turns around each cone
  • Backwards through the cones
  • Use pucks to test skating and stickhandling
  • Ask your goalies to use shuffles and keep their stance through the cones
     I hope you enjoy using this drill.  I know I haven't put many drills on here, but from time to time I'll an old fave in here and you are welcome to give it a try.  I have to give a shout out to BC Hockey and Hockey Canada for providing the absolute best drill sheets out there!

Any comments gladly accepted.

Keep smiling and keep your stick on the ice!

More to the Portland Winter hawks story than meets the eye!

     Unless you have been living under a rock or consciously make an effort to ignore hockey totally, you are probably aware of the recent penalties handed out to the Portland Winter Hawks Junior hockey team.  It seems the Winter Hawks were playing against the league rules in recruiting and paying players to play in the Rose City.  Fair enough rules are rules and leagues put forth rules to ensure the safety of the players, and also the financial stability of the league.  However, the WHL set about to make an example of the Winter Hawks and put forth severe punishment that will see the Winter Hawks not only lose draft picks for the next 5 seasons, but also have to pay a huge fine of $200,000, which is a lot for any junior club.

    Now I understand that the league is looking out for its best interests and wants to have a level playing field, but I find it hard to believe that the league is looking out for the fans in this mess.  Why do you ask?  Well, when the league says that is wants a level playing field among all the team so small market teams can compete with the larger markets, why does it allow some teams the run their operations that would make Ebenezer Scrooge look like a free spending fool?  I'm not at liberty to say which teams they are, but I'm sure their fans would tell you the owner simply doesn't spend enough money to put a competitive team on the ice season in season out.  Why does the league allow organizations to run so cheaply that no decent player in their right mind would want to play for an organization that will not help them develop?  I'm not sure the WHL has a certain minimum level that teams must spend on players, but it perhaps would be a good idea to have one so some owners can't rely on the old tired excuse that they play in a small market.

     Now lets look at the case of Seth Jones.  If you were a highly touted prospect, where would you want to play?  Here are your choices, a team in larger market with a highly respected coach/GM known for developing prospects with a proven team track record of sending players to the next level.  Or, a team where the GM is a son in-law with eyes only on the bottom line trying to run a five star program on a half-star budget with a proven history of mediocrity?  Hmmmm, and this is merely an example of a player who has a little say in where they want to go.  How would you like to be drafted to one of these small markets with a cheapskate owner?  I know I wouldn't.

     Portland broke the rules and they deserve to be punished.  That much is clear.  How about changing the rules so that each franchise has to put forth a minimum amount of effort in trying to be successful?  If it really is about protecting the fans and ultimately the league, then it has to happen.

Keep smiling and keep your stick on the ice.