Whyte steps down as DYHA hockey director, lands new NHL position
Earlier this offseason, Whyte stepped down from the position with Brad McCaughey taking over, though Whyte will remain head coach of the DYHA 18U team next year.
But the reason is one that will ensure the game of hockey continues to grow in the desert as Whyte is a NHL youth hockey regional director. His primary responsibilities are to grow hockey at the grassroots level in the areas of San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado and Dallas.
“I will be working with all of these NHL teams, their staff and the local ice facilities that participate in the NHL ‘Learn To Play’ (LTP) initiative, which is a six- to eight-week program where parents can register their children and receive a full set of equipment from CCM,” explained Whyte.
Truth be told, the position is nothing new for Whyte.
“I have been helping grow hockey for most of my life,” said Whyte. “I started teaching at hockey schools when I was 14, and the passion just continued to grow from there. After I retired from professional hockey, I was a hockey director in Arizona for 17 years. When the position was brought to my attention, it seemed like a very exciting opportunity, so I applied. After a few interviews, one being in New York City at NHL headquarters, I was offered the position. Now, I have the honor of helping grow the sport I love exponentially.”
And while the game is growing in Arizona and surrounding states, Whyte has ideas to keep that growth going.
“Now that I am employed by the NHL, we have some very strong resources in helping the Southwest continue to grow youth hockey,” Whyte said. “Our main focus is on the LTP programs, and we want to provide a fun, safe environment where parents can bring their children to the rink and watch them learn and love a very difficult sport to play. We want to provide a consistent message that revolves around respect for the game, sportsmanship and a multitude of other positive traits and characteristics to acquire. All of the NHL markets that I represent are doing great work in developing young hockey players, and I plan on working in conjunction with them, focusing on the best practices and providing a clearer path to the next level.”
Closer to home, Whyte said hockey has grown in leaps and bounds since he first landed in the desert.
“I moved to Arizona in 1990 to play for the LA Kings’ farm team, the Phoenix Roadrunners,” said Whyte. “Youth hockey was here, and both Oceanside Ice Arena and Arcadia Ice Arena (then Tower Plaza) were doing very well. Since my retirement in 2001, there have been a number of other facilities built and the growth has been fantastic. During this time, I have seen countless players move on to junior, college and even pro, both in North America and Europe. And although most look to Auston Matthews for his incredible climb to the NHL, the most prevalent aspect of hockey is the life lessons you learn on your journey, and the endless friendships that we are blessed to have.”
Whyte added that there still needs to be more kids playing hockey in Arizona to help get the state over the hump and on more radars nationally.
“Hockey in Arizona, as in most all other states, is looking to grow its numbers,” Whyte said. “We are striving to have more kids in skates and enjoying the sport. By focusing on the grassroots and keeping young kids involved in the sport, there will be more opportunity for certain players to excel and achieve their goals.
“Auston Matthews is a fantastic story that proves anyone from anywhere can reach the pinnacle.”
— Matt Mackinder