Thank You Canucks.

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Canucks,

I want to thank each of you for the last seven months. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my coaching career to have had an opportunity to work with some phenomenal teams, and players and I’ve had a blast in many of those years. However, I can honestly say the last seven months has been the most I have had enjoyed coaching minor hockey.  It was funny, the day after we lost out, or maybe it was that night. I can’t remember. I was just sitting on the couch with my wife, watching TV. And I recall just sighing in almost disbelief, and I just muttered… I loved that team. I didn’t expect any response from anyone. I was kind of talking to myself. But, Amanda turned… looked at me, and I could see just how proud even she was of us, and she just said… I know. I could tell all year how much fun you had coaching these guys. I know you enjoyed it. This exchange may not seem like much, but for me… it meant the world, because it was the honest truth.

 

I think back to the spring when I was first asked to coach Midget AA, truthfully, I let my ego get in the way and I declined. Thought, I’ve only ever coached AAA, I can’t do AA. It’s just not for me. Boy, was I ever wrong, and I am so thankful I was called a second time and asked again to coach this team.

 

It was important to me, as it is every year to create a team of character, and good people from good families so I did as much homework prior to the season as I could. Following tryouts, I was thrilled with the group we had, and knew… this is a special group. Now, though our season has ended two weeks quicker than we hoped, I still believe that. I couldn’t be more proud of this team, and every single player. I know for a lot of guys it would’ve been really easy to just pack it in and screw around all year long because it was “Midget AA” and that’s the stigma that’s often associated with Midget AA. But, you didn’t. Not even once. You guys gave us a chance to coach you, and trusted us. Even though I’m sure there were times you thought maybe screw this, or what the hell are we doing. I know we pushed you guys hard, and never once did you guys show any inclination of quitting, though it would’ve been the easier road. You didn’t. Even those late Friday night 8:45 practices, followed by Saturday 10AM practices, you guys gave us everything, and I know that we demanded a lot from all of you.  Everything we asked of you guys, you believed in the process and you did it. From dryland, to continually giving back to the community throughout the year. These aren’t things that should be typical of Midget AA teams. At least not in my experience, but you guys have set the standard in my opinion and I believe it all comes from the deep character of this group. It was refreshing to coach a group of kids who played the game hard, and for the right reasons, for their teammates, and for the love of the game. You just don’t see that very often anymore.

 

I want to thank you guys for everything. I hope that you have been able to learn as much from Geoff, Rye and myself as I can assure we have learned from you guys. Above all else, I hope you guys had fun playing hockey, and have found your love for this great game again and continue to enjoy the game. You’ve spent a lot of time putting in work to this game, and I believe it has the opportunity to take you to great places. Whether that’s on the ice, or off the ice. I truly believe that each and every one of you has an incredibly bright future with whatever path it is you choose. I’ve seen the character, I’ve seen the work, and I’ve seen the resilience. You guys are built for success, and it will find you. As we’ve said all year long, this is a truly special group. This is a group I would go to war with anytime.

 

Lastly, parents. I want to thank you for everything you have done for our team. You guys have been incredibly supportive; it’s been fun to watch. You’ve all done such a terrific job raising these young men. You should be very proud of each of them. They truly gave it all they could this season, and they did it with no one watching except you parents, and us coaches. That is what was so enjoyable. They weren’t playing for anyone or anything other than themselves, and their love of the game. I always believe that a group of parents can help make a team successful, and can often help sink a team even faster. But, I never felt that with this group. I’m sure there were many times you guys were pissed about something, and there were times we made mistakes as coaches but you believed in us and gave us your full trust, and support and I want to sincerely thank you for that. You’ve all done more for this group than you know.

 

I will always consider this group my extended family. I know we’ve been saying this to parents, and players since day 1, and I still mean this from the bottom of my heart, this is truly just a special group. One I will always remember, and always feel very fortunate that I had this opportunity as a coach. You guys have helped me find my passion for hockey, and for coaching once again. I am forever grateful to you for that.

 

Everything we did this year… all the work we’ve put in, all the triumphs from winning the Edmonton tournament, to our fifteen game undefeated streak to the struggles, the injuries we were always overcoming, trying to find our way after the Christmas break, and ultimately our battle with the Rangers that in itself was full of elation, and despair.   It’s all been worth it.

 

It’s honestly been such pleasure, I am forever grateful for the chance to coach this group; I think I speak for Geoff, and Rye as well. Thank you all for the opportunity. It’s been one hell of a ride. Every moment. Thank you.

 

We’ll always be family. Thank you.

 

Coach

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A letter to the kids & the parents.

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It’s OK to be THEIR disappointment.

Hello All,

Hope summer has been a treat for you all.  Mine has just concluded as of this past weekend with the kick off to another hockey season.  It’s August 12. And, I’ve already hit the 4-straight-days-on-the-ice mark.  Which, seems rather early.  Though it seems earlier each year.  However, I’m not really complaining.  It’s my choice. I absolutely love doing it. Each season is an absolute blast, thus it’s a little easier to get back to the rink August 12th.  I look forward to seeing some returning faces to the herd, and some new faces eager to make the squad and become apart of it.

The next 6 weeks are the toughest for us coaches as we spend hours upon hours at the arena, followed by hours upon hours at a table somewhere, sometimes at an arena, sometimes (If I am lucky) at a pub, and we try to get it right.  Then, we hit the sheets, only to wake up do our 9-5 and do it all over again.  For 6 weeks. But, we absolutely love it.  Though It’s taxing & exhausting, it does not compare to the pressures that these young men face. 13 & 14 years old.  160+ kids try out for our association, with our team being the pinnacle group.  For the first week, teams will scrimmage against one another, alternating opponents each night.  Easy? Sure. Queue, about 15 of us in the stands whispering to each other, and writing on our clipboards, making note of each and every play, and player.  Not so easy anymore for these kids.  We take 19 of that 160+. 19. That’s just over 10% of kids trying out will actually make the top team. And, that only then becomes step one.

It’s tough.  These kids are 14, and their entire year as a 14 year old basically goes into the arduous month long process of making “the team”.  There’s parents, There’s coaches, there’s friends, teammates, there’s teachers. All pressuring the players to DO BETTER!  That’s not all either, even at 14, there can be prospective agents (most of whom are complete rats), but oh there are scouts, junior coaches, bloggers, other parents especially whom love to have an opinion on a grade 9 student regarding his ability to save the day, and more importantly the city. “THIS kid WILL be the next 99. HE WILL.” “ARE YOU NUTS – YOU MUST BE HIS DAD CAUSE HE SUCKS!” …He’s umm 14 you guys…

He’s still learning the history of his very own country in social, then he’s just beginning algebra after he wakes up from that class.  Not to be outdone by the English teacher down the hall, whom is chomping at the bit with piles of “The Hounds of The Baskervilles” homework.  Then we go home and beg our parents to help us with all this surmounting work, and maybe do a book report or two because I have practice. And I HAVE to make the team.  How can I have time for all this homework?  I have hockey.

As part coaches who are fortunate enough to lead these fine young men at such a level, I am sure I speak for all of us when I say that family & school are always, absolutely always the first and foremost important thing when it comes to a young adults life.  Hockey is third. Regardless of the team you play on, or you want to play on.  And, if there is a coach out there who says otherwise, I want you to eat the grill of my F150, cause you deserve that and nothing less.   But, anyway, best of luck trying to tell these young men this.  You can tell them? But, realistically, how can you expect them to understand this right now?  They have more weight on their shoulders from their peers and surroundings then anyone else I know.  And, they’re just 14.

It’s not just bantam hockey players, I am sure this argument could be made for many different fields or sports just change the game and age if you please.  But, this is the world I see every day.

The pressures that are on these young men and women is terrorizing, utterly damaging.  It is no wonder the rate of depression & suicide continues to skyrocket in younger people, and continues to climb as one of the leading causes of death.  How can any kid be happy, or satisfied when expectations of them are absolutely unrealistic before their life has really even begun? When they’re constantly failing the readers, the dads, and the moms.  So ya didn’t make the AAA team? Or lead the league? So ya didn’t earn top student honors? So ya didn’t win the little league world series as clean up batter and pitch 7 straight like Dad told ya to do? So fucking what. What next? Your life is over? You’re a complete failure? You let dad down, you let mom down?  Fuck off. You’re a kid.  Do you know that just because you didn’t make the AAA team, or that you weren’t top student that you won’t earn a phD? Or be ridicously wealthy, or better yet happy because you created some kind of change that made this shitty place a better one? Do you know that these outcomes and more of the like are impossible, because at 14 you didn’t achieve a goal that someone wanted for you more then you wanted yourself?

No. Not likely kid.

Some of the best players I have ever had the opportunity to coach weren’t necessarily the most skilled, or talented ones.  But, they were the best kids. They were the best people. They smiled every day. They had fun. Sure, they had ups and downs, hell,  they went through life, life outside of the hours of practice in a week, but they had fun, they learned. It’s amazing how truly mature some of these young athletes can be, some 14 year olds seem like they’re 44 for fucksakes! These are the type of people you know that will succeed in life, whether it is at hockey, or whether it is at something entirely separate but you just know they’re on the right path heading for complete greatness.   As for par with the handful of these kids I’ve come across, you see it in their parents.  Their parents aren’t the ones attacking others in the blogs, they aren’t cohorting with the GM of the Saginaw Ice Queens every intermission lathering him with a Double Thai Chi fucking Latte in a double cup with a warm sleeve so Steve & Andy don’t burn a hole in their newly purchased designer leather mitts.  No. They watch their kids do what they love to do. Play. And, the only reason the kid loves to do that…. Is cause the parents let him just play.

So, my words to all trying to achieve a goal of making a team this season whether it be ours, or whether it be elsewhere.

Control what you can control. You can control your work ethic.  You can control your attitude. You can control your body language. You, unfortunately have absolutely no control about what us coaches talk about in the war room. You, unfortunately, unlikely have any control over your parents.  But, above all, you can control if you’re having fun or not.  If you’re not having fun, and you’re only doing it cause Dad wants you to.  Tell him to fuck off & stop.  You have way too much future ahead of you to waste time doing something you don’t want, something that doesn’t bring you happiness.  Control what you can gentleman, and enjoy it.  It’s a tough 6 weeks trying out for teams.  But, I can guarantee if you do not have fun throughout the process. You won’t be apart of the outcome you’re hoping for. Do it for you & no one else. It’s your life. Smile. It’s hockey.

It’s OK to be THEIR disappointment.