Observations From the Rink: So you don’t want to pass the puck!

So You Don’t Want to Pass the Puck?Does it start in IP or Novice when parents put money down for goals?

Does it start because they are head and shoulders better than everyone else and no one can keep up with them?

Does it continue in Pee Wee and Bantam because they are head and shoulders bigger than everyone else?

OR

Is it just plain old selfishness? You can be the judge, but I know where I stand.

I was taught along time ago to pass the puck. If you didn’t pass the puck you were told.

That’s right there was actually feedback given when a player or players didn’t move the puck.

We didn’t have IPads or fancy technology, we had coaches that held us accountable.

Funny, my longtime coach and mentor Dale Turner’s son Ryan played with us all the way up through.

Dale God rest his soul was equally hard if not harder on Ryan than all of us.

Ryan was a special player, he had elite level skill and it seemed like Ryan always had the puck on his stick like many skilled players do.

You see Ryan felt the wrath of his father on a few occasions when he didn’t move it quick enough.

The yell/command reigned down from the bench it.

“Move it up”

“For crying out loud, pass the puck”

By the time any of us who held on to the puck or took an ill-advised shot on net when we should of passed it Dale would meet us as soon as we came off the ice.

I’m not seeing that coaching style anymore.

It’s gone and it would appear the urgency to move the puck has gone along with it.

I don’t give a rats ass how good you are or think you are, pass the damn puck.

I realize that as a scout, I’m supposed to be invisible, file my reports and keep my thoughts to myself, but this is an epidemic. It’s ruining the game.

It’s like I’m watching NBA basketball and there’s a set play for isolation. That’s not hockey. For the last three years, I’ve written several articles and made several “Observations from the Rink” on this very topic.

I tried to make them sound as original as I could every time, but to be brutally honest I just shake my head.

I just want to scream at the top of my lungs “Pass the damn puck.”

So many players these days feel compelled to over handle the puck.

Overhandling the puck sure as hell isn’t creativity and it is sure as hell not offensive upside.

It’s selfishness. I’ll tell you right now it won’t float at the next level.

You better believe people that know the game, see it.

Your subtle selfishness is as clear as day.

There are some people out there that assume the problem will fix itself when they make the jump to the next level.

Let me be the first, because coaches aren’t, that doesn’t translate to the next level. It just doesn’t.

You will get rocked, you won’t see the ice and maybe the worst of all is being called out not by the coach, but by the players.

At the next level, you will get “freezed out.”

When you get called out by your line mates for not passing that’s the ultimate insult.

You see more and more players are trying to implement the “look off or look away” move to their repertoire.

Trust me, it’s not working.

Those same players that tried all the dekes, toe drags, head fakes then shoot from a brutal angle or turn the puck over.

What really gets me and is the most perplexing of all of this is their teammates reaction.

They don’t say anything. Trust me their body language says it all.

Puck movement during the Prospects game was outstanding!

What boggles my mind even more is the lack of feedback from the bench.

Coaches these days seem oblivious to selfish play.

So you don’t want to pass the puck?Oh well, maybe the player doesn’t think it very well. Oh that’s horseshit to.

They know damn well they could have moved it, but maybe I’ll get noticed more if I have the puck on my stick the most.

WRONG.

I notice the kid that moves it quick, jumps into the play, doesn’t over handle it. You see friends, that translates to the next level.

The best players at the Midget level don’t have the puck on their stick a long time because they move it.

Don’t believe me just watch the game. Oh if you’re an analytics person, look at the numbers, do your thing.

Quality shots, oh so and so had 12 shots in the game yeah how many goals could his/her winger have if they would have passed the puck.

The old adage “the puck moves faster than the man” rang true this past weekend or did it?

Game after game you begin to notice a team’s culture.

Do they share the wealth or are they a bunch of puck hogs?

You don’t have to look any farther then the power play. It’s a perfect indicator.

Do they look for option four or five hell no, they just try to create offence for themselves, it’s sad really.

The same old play time and time again, let me do my thing and try to get my shot through, let me take over the game with my skill.

I’ll let you in on a little secret your skill will only translate to the next level if you pass the puck.

All the time and space that they might have had while being the “best” player at the Bantam level drastically reduces in Midget, that’s why first year kids struggle so much for the first few games.

Oh does it seem more physical.

Why yes it does. Why would that be? Maybe because your overhanding of the puck causes you to skate into trouble and get hit.

Seriously maybe the iPad or video will tell you that if you need more convincing.

Look at the film.

These days every team has access to video.

The absolute worst aspect of all of this, is the lack puck movement and willingness to share the wealth spreads, it becomes a pandemic.

A form of hockey greed takes over, and you get players thinking they are more skilled then the other teammates and then that’s when the freezing out starts.

It’s subtle, but you can see it, especially on the power play.

“Yeah I saw you open, but that guy was closing in on you and had his stick in the passing lane.“

Listen, I’ve heard all the excuses.

Just pass the damn puck.

Culture.

You want to talk about culture, I’m convinced one of largest reasons for conflict on highly skilled teams is an unwillingness to play as a team.

Everyone talks about personalities or ego, that should all go away when they step on the ice, but it doesn’t. When teams and organizations become fixated on offensive numbers and stats that throws team chemistry for a loop.

To be honest it ruins it.

Stat driven teams never fully grasp the concept of growth and development, it cultivates “an all about me” mentality.

Good luck trying to win with that atmosphere and team culture.

Don’t believe me.

Just watch after that kind of team scores you can see all the players looking at each other trying to figure if they got the secondary assists and see how everything worked out before heading down the bench for handshakes.

So you don’t want to pass the puck?

Pretty simple response to that from my perspective.

Sit your ass down here for awhile and figure shit out, or you will develop a really bad case of “Splintericitis” a condition that arises in some hockey players that are selfish puck-hogs.

“Splintericitis” has one known cure, passing the puck and gaining back the trust of your coach and teammates.

That’s what I’m seeing. Trust me it’s hard to watch, but one can only imagine playing with someone like that on your team.

Quick Hits

1. To the player that moves the puck, I see you, I appreciate you more than ever before.

2. Quick puck moving teams are hard to play against, because they are unpredictable.

3. To the selfish puckhog, I see you and I really hope someone shares this with you and by the way pass the damn puck.

18 comments

  1. Well it all started with parent who don’t want their children criticize by a stranger (coach) and that he should live and grow in a positive environement where everybody is at the same level and good for participating, where effort and second effort are not the norms because we level from the bottom, where doing lines because your out off shape playing xbox everyday instead of playing with a puck or a ball in the yard, not being bench when you don’t show 2 pratice in a row because you didn’t feel like coming. We as a parent should be happy that our kids are put trought adversity and sad situation and have to cope and deal with it , life is not always fair and great but parent think they should protect their kid from that. What it does is uncoachable kids and unemployable futur citizen cause ultimately a boss will be a harsh critic. I’ve done lines in my times pushup , rink laps punitive training in team for not performing to coaches expectationwithin our talents and you know what? I’m not dead and I think it help me to become a better adult with giving me some real world way to cope with adversity and the need to work harder.
    Just my 2 cents

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    1. I must disagree with you. Not all coaches are this way.
      I have two boys. One in atom and one in IP6. My husband is a head coach of IP6. Yes he is a volunteer and yes I can with confidence tell you my six year old is the hockey team superstar. I can also tell you with 100% confidence that the IP6 Community team passes the puck the most from ALL the team in our community. Coaches teaching of the game and skating skills is who gets all the credit. My and his son is a superstar as I said however he has more passes than goals. His skating ability is due to all the extra time he is on the ice (public skates/outdoor rings shinny etc.)
      At the beginning of the season the coach always stresses out to the parents not to pay kids for goals as it ruins all he is trying to achieve. In my humble opinion passing the puck to your team should be introduced right from the beginning instead on focusing on individual skills. For that there are hockey camps.
      I see it at the atom level where kids don’t even try to go With the player who has the puck as they know they will not get the pass and the player will loose it anyway. Once in a blue moon there be a pass and no one is ready for it. I must also say that the head coach of the atom team also has a kid on the team but he doesn’t get any special treatment.
      The kids who’s dads are the coaches actually have it tougher than the rest.
      1. Pass the damn puck
      2. Keep your stick on the ice
      3. Always expect the pass

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      1. I must respectfully disagree. My player, a girl, missed MANY goals because the (selfish) players do not pass. (she played ompetitive Atom, Peewee, and Bantam). She was (imho) one of the best defense players on the ice. It was very frustrating to watch but *most* of us would agree with this article. Thankfully, she now plays on an all girls team where passing is practiced AND used in games. (Midget AAA)

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  2. I agree but alot off no passing is because coachs dont play the player that just boringly moves the puck.my son is a puck moving defense. No one sees him because moves puck fast and up ice. Midget aa.coach sits him not offensive enough.

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  3. I have watched my son & now my grandchildren play minor hockey for 37 years. None have been or will never reach the NHL but I have spent many hours at the rink. I don’t profess to know a lot but I’ve always been able to see that the kid who passes the puck is usually the well rounded most liked child on the team. Usually the assist is almost more important than who actually puts the puck in the net. That always gets acknowledged by me with cheers & my loud praise. Everyone wants their child to be the star. That’s a natural love for your child. They can be the star without being a “ puck hog” and being a team player instead. I love watching my grandchildren play & sometimes I don’t think they like the puck enough but they are having fun & know how to win & how to lose without stick slamming or cocky behaviour with wins. That’s what I want them to take away from playing. I’m getting older but love my kids & their sports.

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  4. I played hockey for a coach I know was smart. He taught us that we only would be good if we played as a team. He told us a assist was more important then a goal. Now my son is in mites and I’ve explained to him how I was taught to play position and look for that open guy to pass the puck. Now this is the fourth of year of mites. I can’t t watch it with out being disappointed about that people think it’s a one person game it’s not about who scores a goal are how many goals that one player scored. It’s about how the team does as a team. My son does try to pass and be open for a pass but it never comes and some of his passes aren’t the best but he tries his best. But it disappointing that two kids who time after time I see are trying do it by themselves. It’s costing the team time after time they skate around and so many of there teammates have been open time after time but they have never passed to anyone not even each other. Time after time it’s taken from them and the other team usually scores. I know it’s mites but it’s seems like everyone but me thinks it’s alright. My son makes plenty of mistakes too that cost the team. He passes the puck in front of his net time to time he misses passes but he’s trying to pass at least he passes I I’m proud he tries to pass. I’m gonna score a goal and the rest of the team can watch thinking has made a bunch of young players that are good become a terrible team. I’ve seen my son slashed by his own teammate and the puck taken off his stick. The two kids dads are the coaches. So how can you change it. I regret that I had my son play hockey I never thought this way of hockey if you can call it hockey is excepted anywhere. I’ve questioned why don’t we do stuff different and people take offense to it. These same coaches are moving kids up to play mite 2 hockey and moving kids down to mite 1 hockey to get there kids more experience. I’m not asking them to pass the puck to my kid. I want them to teach the kids the game of hockey.

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  5. One thing missing to the mantra.
    Pass the puck…yes.
    Then get yourself open.
    See?…you need to have someone to pass to.
    That is the most obvious flaw in young players…finding the open man.
    And it’s probably the biggest reason the really talented players score goals…..
    they get into open ice.

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  6. Pass the damn puck, then get open so THEY have someone to pass back too. Kids see that kid that does not pass the puck and they quit moving because they “know” that player isn’t going to pass. Encourage this player to still do his job, go hard 100% of the time, player X may not pass the puck but you build your habits by repetition and eventually player X will get replaced by someone that will pass the puck. Play Hard, Play Fast, Have Fun….The last 3 things I tell my 8 year old before he hits the Ice….and it’s easier to have fun if you playing hard and fast. 99.9% of these kids will not go pro, so if they are not having fun, what’s the point? I have been playing this game for 40 years I Love everything about the game…..all I want for my boys is for them to be able to repeat that sentence in another 40 years.

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  7. Hockey is a team game. The pass is a key part of Team Play. Bring able to pass the puck requires skill and hockey sense by both the passer and the receiver. This takes time and teaching by coaches. Canadian AA and AAA hockey is one on one hockey. When the importance of passing is understood, mathematics changes and 1 + 1 = 3 . In today’s game there are rarely 2 completed passes made in a row. It is a game of 1 +1 = 1 as the puck carrier attempts to do it alone. It takes 2 to Tango when it comes to passing. The receiver has to anticipate to get open. The passer has to be a threat and aware of his team mate and make a play that gets the best result. Crosby is the best example of being a threat to score and making plays that result in scoring. Teach kids to head man the puck when a player is open by having a head man rule. If you do not pass you sit with a reminder it’s a team game and no player can carry the puck as fast as a Pass. Coaches teach the skills of passing and receiving (timing) and reinforce the importance of passing the puck in obvious situations. Coach team play not selfish play.

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