Vision remains 20/20 with strong Bobcats coaching staff
Arizona Bobcats director of hockey Ron Filion knows that putting forth a unified front as a coaching staff is one of the keys to building a successful youth hockey program.
That understanding explains why he’s so careful in choosing his coaches, and why he’s constantly watching practices, talking with his coaches daily and sharing ideas about how best to approach short-term and long-term goals.
For Filion, his vision for the Bobcats program must be something that his coaches see as well, whether he’s on the ice with them or not.
“Creating the right atmosphere inside the rink begins with the right group of coaches,” Filion said. “It took me many years to create a solid group of coaches – guys who are not only good on the ice, but guys who would buy in to my philosophy of putting players’ development first. I do not micromanage my coaches, but I expect the foundation of their message each practice and game to be similar to the Bobcats’ vision. My coaches are a team. It doesn’t matter who needs help – it is all our jobs to make the program stronger.”
The Bobcats’ coaching staff includes Filion, Brent Gough, Pat Conacher, Leeor Shtrom, Dillon Shaffer, Jeff Alexander, Mike Hensdell, Justin Rogers and Jason Oliver, as well as NHL veterans Keith Carney and Derek Morris.
The group all has the same goals in mind and most importantly, they’re always supporting each other in any way they can.
“We have a group of guys that all get along, which isn’t always the case with coaches,” Gough said. “Coaches can sometimes have an ego about them that makes them think their way is the only way, but everyone puts those aside so we can do what’s best for the program and the kids.”
Gough explained that the Bobcats’ philosophy extends from their youngest players to their oldest. That’s especially important in creating a cohesiveness from one level to the next and ensuring that players receive the proper developmental tools at each age group.
“We’re still in the early stages of building a full program from Mites to Midgets, but I think we do a really good job with our youngest players that are coming up,” Gough said. “They’re learning the skills and they have mastered them before they move up to the next level. Once we get them to the 14U age level and up, we can just add to their knowledge base, and we don’t have to go back to fundamentals. It’s great that we’re teaching hockey players the right way to do things from the beginning.”
Filion appreciates that his coaches are willing to eschew personal goals to do what’s best for the program as a whole.
“It is important that everyone leaves their ego at the door but brings their talent and knowledge for the good of the Bobcats program,” Filion said. “I strongly believe that we have accomplished just that this season, with our coaches being in the right spots. Of course, we all would like to coach Tier I hockey, and all of our coaches are qualified to do so, but the success of the program as a whole puts different requirements on each guy. Our coaches understand the importance of sharing ideas and spending time together to find solutions. Every day in our coaches’ room, you will see coaches helping each other regardless of what team they are coaching and on many occasions, guys will be on the ice with teams other than their own to help with different aspects of the game.
“Sharing ideas with one another is what makes our program grow and makes every coach feel like they are part of the program’s success. You can’t teach kids respect and commitment if you don’t display that yourselves.”
— Greg Ball
(Dec. 21, 2017)