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!