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.