Soo’s coach selection process

Craig Hartsburg
February 12, 2018

As our minor hockey season in Sault Ste. Marie is getting closer to the end of the 2017-2018 campaign, I would like to thank those who have given so much of their time to help our kids and the game. There have been a lot of good, positive things done by so many volunteers — board members, trainers, assistant coaches, head coaches et al.

We should applaud all of them for their efforts and the commitment of their personal time to help the kids in the Soo.

But, at the same time, there has to be some time for true self-evaluation on your performances as coaches and look at what can be done in the future to be better and how to improve so our kids can benefit.

The one area I would like to address in this column is the coach selection process, especially for our select and AAA programs.

I feel that the process will be improved this spring. Toots Kovacs and his committee are looking for good people — people who will teach, guide and develop our young kids.

I am sure this process will be totally unbiased, non-political and professionally done. I am hoping that the most qualified people step up and apply — there are a lot of potentially-good coaches who have great knowledge of the game and I hope they apply!

I know some can’t because of work or family commitments that won’t allow them to and I understand. Some probably don’t want to because the environment, at times, can become very negative and self serving — but I hope this will not hold people back from applying.

There is also a perception or an opinion out there that parents shouldn’t coach their own kids.

Well, in a perfect world, this argument may be correct but we are a small town and we have to have the best qualified people teaching the game to our kids. If people are worried about favoritism to coaches kids, it can be and should be monitored.

If we are all wanting to improve the situation in the Soo, this will be when it starts. The coach mentor-ship program can also help with guidance. We will try to help build our coaches up and provide information that will help them but it has to be wanted and accepted by them.

By the way, all coaches, whether you are house league, A, AA or AAA, you will be invited to sit in on our meetings to learn and get coaching information.

So, let’s put together the best staffs to help our kids and check our egos at the door together.

We need the best candidates to step up and we need to let the committee make the right decisions.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of an ongoing series of columns written for Hockey News North by 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.

What you think about “Soo’s coach selection process”

    1. Hi Ray, I am familiar, but not an expert on it. I do believe it has value and merit. The more info we give to our coaches the better. I always thought as a coach you never stop learning and getting better. Even at the highest level.

  1. re parent coaches–it usually is not the favoritism that is the concern, it is a favoritism that is often perceived by the other players and parents that causes the issues. The good parent coaches should be encouraged to coach another team

  2. Good parent coaches, that truly want to help the Sault as a whole, should step forward and by all means, coach other teams. Come and help hockey out in your hometown. If these parent coaches are in it for the right reasons, they will donate their time to others as well. Do some total volunteer service for your hockey community with no strings attached!

    If these organizations allow parent coaches, then by all means, things have to be monitored. If they aren’t and favoritism is shown, then you that you will kill the team spirit, the parents’ spirits of paying money into that type of system and eventually have not enough kids to come out and support/try out for a team. Parents are funny and too much involved enough now as it is, and are tired of parent coaches after 4 years at the minor level rep teams.

    Parents are tired of fundraising, social planning, team planning, parent coach favoritism after 4 years of minor rep hockey. Ask the majority of the parents. I already know the answers, as I have been through the system and know many parents still at the rinks. I will also step outside the box and am willing to say that if parent coaches are allowed to continue to coach their own kids into Bantam and up, after already doing it 2, 3 or 4 years at the minor levels, half the team wouldn’t come back to play, no matter how successful they think they are.

    The child must also be a legitimate candidate to make the team. That must be obvious. To help hinder this issue, the hockey organizations can implement equal-fair ice time policies across the board at all rep levels. Before you gasp here, YES, some larger AAA centers in Ontario do this. Benefits are multiple: 1. The players, no matter where they sit on the depth chart of a rep team, get a chance to play in every situation. If it is your turn to go out, you go. The player gets a chance at that shift’s situation, (PP or PK or 4 on 4, whatever it may be). The players only learn and gain some much valuable experience from this. 2. Parents see the value of their investment into a program/team; and more than likely will return a following year or more. 3. Players feel more a part of the team concept as a whole. 4. By the time these players get to Bantam and Midget, you will have that much more capable kids to handle these situations. Only leads to deeper talented teams. Bantam and Midget programs must have this ice time idea implemented as well. No more running and gunning with 5 or 6 or 7 kids.

    Understanding must also be given to that fact that, during certain games, in tournaments, playoffs, etc… where teams have chances of advancing and securing more games or final wins, that the benches may get short for the last couple minutes. Some players run hot some games and may be able to get the job done for the team! That’s hockey, and a true team mate will not care if the “hot” kid is on the ice trying to get the job done for the team.

    Yours in hockey,

    The Old Sault Hockey Boy

  3. Sometimes parents don’t know the previous coaching history of a coach and with out knowing the whole picture with parent coaches, right away the are labeled that they will play favorites or their kid is only on the team because of him being the coach, but each coach is different and not in it just their own kids. There are excellent coaches that are parent coaches that are 100% team development, equal ice time, believes in team first and bettering the kids than championships banners. Some of these coaches have already volunteered and were qualified enough then to coach at the AAA level for years before having kids of their own, as a non parent coach. Now that their kids are at this level, you are wanting them step aside and spend their free time volunteering at another age group again, taking their holidays from work and switching shifts for the non parent coach team, not leaving holidays or time off to being able to watch their own child play or develop because of the commitment to this other team. Most dedicated coaches just don’t show up and run practices and games, a lot of hours are spent planning and preparing . Some non parent coaches are not in it for the right reasons either and are only in it for themselves, taking players someone else developed and used it as a stepping stone to further themselves, so just because they don’t have a kid on the team you want them to get the team even though they could not control their players on and off the ice, zero skill team/development and losing records. Team budgets also now increased if the staff are all non parents and to some of those non parent coaches, they don’t care how much parents have to pay because there is no financial obligation for them. (don’t want to pay, then don’t play, I will find someone else that will pay). Nothing is black and white, It should not be based on having a child on the team, (if they legitimately belongs on the team), or not, It should be based on their previous success in developing players, overall control of the players on those teams, and their hockey and coaching experience. If the biggest concern is that their son should not be on the team, then have a panel that will evaluate that player to see if they actually belong, if they belong, then there is no reason not to select the best coach that happens to have a player with the same last name on the team.

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