Archive for the ‘Coaching’ Category

One of the things I noticed when I started playing rec hockey was that guys really, really liked to play their position.

It’s a generalization of course, but it seemed that for forwards, there were three lanes – left, center and right – and that was the area of ice players occupied. Guys would come off the ice yelling “right side, right side!” and the right winger would jump on to take the other right winger’s place.

In pro hockey you still change for your position, but once you’re out there you’re generally just a forward, with a starting designation on faceoffs, and a lane to cover in your neutral zone defense.

What I mean is, everything is “F1, F2, and F3.”

On the forecheck, the first guy on the puck is F1, regardless of his actual designated position.

The second forward in the zone – F2 - will read the play. If F1 got body on the d-man and is in a puck battle, that second guy will try to fish the thing out. If the d-man got solid possession, he’ll take away the strong-side boards. With “keep it out of the middle” drilled into everyone’s head, it’s the most likely place the puck is going.

F3 also reads – he heads to the slot area and stays above the opposing center, but if the puck goes corner to corner, he’ll go down on the puck while F2 will rotate wall-to-far-wall (he’s reading to get the jump on that), and F1 will come up to the slot (again, above the center).

You always need that guy high.

Once you get the puck, any thought of positioning outside of “keep a guy high” is basically thrown out the window. Read the rest of this entry »

Introducing Six New NHL Head Coaches


Lou Lam's new hire, Peter DeBoer

Remember the days when your favourite team would fire their head coach and you would turn to your buddy and say “ok, what coach is available?”

You’d spend the next little while rattling off names of well known coaches that are sitting in a broadcast booth somewhere waiting for their phone to ring with a job offer (ie “hello, Mike Keenan speaking”).

Those days seem so long ago! Goodbye unemployment line, hello American Hockey League.

Take a look at the evidence. The Penguins hired Dan Bylsma from their AHL affiliate (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins); in three seasons he has a Stanley Cup ring and a Jack Adams trophy.

61 games after coaching the Capitals AHL team, Bruce Boudreau won a Jack Adams trophy in 2008. That was a year after former AHL coach Alain Vigneault won the award.

Only two of the six new bench bosses were coaching in the NHL last season. The other four were behind the bench in the AHL.

It’s not uncommon to hear knowledgeable hockey people say “who?” when they hear the name of a new coach. To help those people out, let’s take look at the six new coaches going into the 2011-12 season.

Has a record of 1-0 when Justin Bourne is on his bench. Has yet to call to express his gratitude for the promotion.

Glen Gulutzan

Where was he last year: Texas Stars (AHL)

Where he is this year: Dallas Stars

Who he replaced: Marc Crawford

Gulutzan spent two years in Texas, leading them to the playoffs in both seasons and the Calder Cup finals in 2010. He has already promised to focus on the defensive structure of the Stars. They finished 15th in team defence last season under Crawford and with the loss of Brad Richards to free agency, expect Gulutzan to focus his team on helping goaltender Kari Lehtonen as much as possible.