Arizona Rubber

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In A Devilish Mood: Why work ethic is more important than scoring goals


mccaugheyBeing a hockey dad, coach and now a hockey director, I have lost count of the number of conversations I have had with parents in regard to the sport of hockey and their child.

Many of the conversations have to deal with what aspects of hockey their child needs more work on to become that elite player, or what types of drills should they be doing more of in practice to become better. I believe that most of these parents are expecting some kind of detailed answer, but it goes without saying that the more you work on something, the better you will get at whatever it is you are working on.


Having said that, there is probably one sentence that I have repeated to more parents and just in general when talking hockey:

“I believe that 95 percent or more of the kids that play hockey have no idea what work ethic means when it comes to hockey.”

I don’t say this to imply that these kids are not smart, but to point out that just because a kid works really hard when he gets the puck, does not mean he has good work ethic. When kids start playing hockey at a young age, the kids that are considered the “best” kids are the ones who score the most points.

That is a metric that is easy for everyone to follow.

Those kids at that young age are usually the better skaters and most talented. I have had parents tell me that their son or daughter is the hardest working kid on the team and when I watch them play, I don’t always come away with the same conclusion. Their child may very well be one of the most talented and a top scorer, but when I am watching a game, I am looking to see what that kid is doing when he does not possess he puck. The fact of the matter is that there are 10 players on the ice, excluding goalies, and at any given time, only one player possesses the puck. This means that approximately 90 percent of the game is played without the puck.

In the long run, how good this player turns out to be with rely heavily on his or her work ethic and hockey smarts without the puck.

It is also important to mention that it is not always the player’s fault if they never develop good work ethic without the puck. The other two responsible parties are the parents and the child’s coaches growing up. I am not saying that the parent should be responsible for teaching their child how to play away from the puck, but I am saying that the parent plays a big role in what their kid thinks is the most important aspect of hockey.

With the money in professional sports these days and all parent’s desires to see their kids make the big leagues, I see a lot of parents who think that the more goals their kid scores, the better player he or she will be. We also see coaches who are so consumed with winning that when they have this super-talented kid on their team, they double shift him or her and tell the child to just go out there and score goals.

Sooner or later, this player will be playing with kids of equal or better talent and he or she will not be able to go end to end and score at will. This player will be lost on the ice at that point because they were never taught the other 90 percent of this great game and how important that part of the game is to becoming a good hockey player.

The bottom line is that hockey is the ultimate TEAM sport and you need to be proficient in all aspects of the game in order to move on to higher levels.

Brad McCaughey is the director of hockey operations and coach-in-chief for DYHA.

(Feb. 12, 2018)