New identity for Soo hockey

Craig Hartsburg
January 17, 2018

EDITOR’S NOTE: This marks the debut column of retired National Hockey League player and coach Craig Hartsburg. Hartsburg retired from the game in 2016 after an eventful 27-year coaching career that included 19 seasons in the NHL and successful stints in the Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League. As a player, Hartsburg had a world-class career as an all-star defenseman with both the Soo Greyhounds of the OHL and the erstwhile Minnesota North Stars of the NHL. He was captain of the Greyhounds for two of his three OHL seasons and was captain of the North Stars for seven of his 10 NHL seasons.

Let me begin by saying that I am really excited to be part of the solutions to help make Sault Ste. Marie hockey better.

We are all very passionate about our game and I am looking forward to helping both the Sault Major Hockey Association and Soo Pee Wee Hockey League grow and develop.

The area I am willing to help in, the coach mentor-ship, is something that I will invest some time in with no hidden agenda. I would like to be a resource and a source of knowledge based on my experiences in the game, some of which have been positive and some of which have been negative.

I am not a savior but I do believe I can help coaches in the Soo.

Our goals are very simple.

1. To provide direction, information and development for our coaches.

2. To help establish a coaching program for our coaches.

3. To help in the overall development of young players — mentally, physically and emotionally.

4. To help grow the LOVE of the game!

5. Coach collaboration — check your ego at the door and help each other grow.

This is more of what we intend to try to be a part of.

* We will focus on what the characteristics of a good coach are and how important they are. We will make sure they know the responsibility they have in developing our greatest asset, our youth!

* We will help to implement a plan for coaches to build our own identity for Soo hockey. An identity that should be fast, skilled, team first and ultra competitive!

* When someone plays the Soo they should leave rink remembering and respecting us. We can’t promise championships and NHL drafts but we can make it better and enjoyable for all.

* There should be a real focus on developing our kids fundamentals, things that I can get into more details in future columns. The one area that has to be a concern though is player and parent burnout. We walk a fine line to make sure that at age 13 and 14, kids (and their parents) aren’t burnt out financially, physically and mentally — and at the same time helping the players develop skills as well as learning the game and having a love for it!

* The game should be a life-learning lesson for all in the areas of success, adversity, being a good teammate, being competitive, etc.

* And the bottom line is this: the rink should be an enjoyable place!

What you think about “New identity for Soo hockey”

  1. Very well said Mr. Hartsburg. Thank You so much for doing this for our Youth. You are certanly a credit to Sault Ste. Marie.

  2. Awesome. Craig your knowledge of the game and ability to address our problem of hockey in Sault Ste. Marie and put The Kids and the game having fun out front and make the city proud again Our town is full of talent and that’s all we need is a great leader thank you Craig Hartsburg🤙🏒🥅

  3. Thank you, Mr. Hartsburg. Minor hockey in our city needs individuals like you to help make hockey all that it can be, and should be, for our kids. I hope those who have been making decisions which have had the opposite effect will either rethink their motivation, or step aside in favour of people like you. Wishing you much success.

  4. Hartsy, I truly hope you’re able to make change and get the ship pointed in the right direction. The demise of competitive AAA hockey in SSM didn’t happen over night, it’s been a steady decline over a number of years. As such, gains towards respectability will take time, effort and a lot of change. Hopefully Sault Major and Soo PeeWee are on board with you.

    Our youth deserve a chance, we once were a proud youth hockey town. Currently we’re laughing stock and bottom feeders.

    Wish you the best.

  5. After reading Craig’s initial entry for his column, I am really looking forward to seeing the marked improvement in our hockey programs here in the Soo. With leadership such as his, the future is very bright indeed. Craig’s insights on the problems and the solutions in his column are dead on and I really hope the hockey community as a whole realize that and buy in totally leaving personal agendas and ego’s at the door. Like he said, it’s for the betterment of our youth.

  6. Awesome news for hockey in town.
    Sault Ste. Marie hockey should be thanking their lucky stars to have him want to make a difference in minor hockey. Seriously you probably would be hard pressed to find anyone former player and coach with a resume like his willing to donate his time to helping kids. Because thats what it’s all about. That’s what makes the Sault such a great hockey city. The Sault is the hockey class of northern Ontario. Always has been and always will be. Despite the last few years. I’ll guerentee Sudbury north bay and timmins still envy hockey in the soo. It will take a lot more then a few bad years to erase the 40 great years. Hopefully mr hartsburg can talk his son in law into coaching. I got to know Craig ( Kennedy ) alittle bit over the years. he has all the qualities you would want your son or daughter playing for at the aaa level. Looking forward to watching the improvements over the next few years. once the kids start having fun again. The success will return.

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