I think Mr. Orr has been open and honest about some of the troubles facing youth hockey in North America. Oftentimes these thoughts are not reacted upon. Mr. Orr is a traditionalist, so much so in a sense that he has almost come full circle and is seen by people like me as progressive. In hockey, we have been so set in the ways and the culture that we forget the small things. Below each of the quotes, I will present my opinion of his quote and why I like it.
“Developing better people should be the number one goal for any coach when dealing with kids. In trying to develop better people, we are going to develop more and better pros.”
I enjoy this quote because so often coaches, players and parents are hung up on the awards, wins and losses of the team as a whole. They forget that improving each and every player from bottom to top will ensure that the players have fun and develop. It also signifies the importance of developing every aspect of the person, not the hockey player. Teaching life skills is as significant as teaching forechecking systems.
“The biggest thing we get out of it is seeing the kids smile. And hopefully we will also see that the lessons we’re teaching – not only the fundamentals of hockey, but also the life values are sinking in.”
When you come to the rink, coaches usually only think about one thing, hockey. We tend to forget that outside of the rink, these kids have school, family and personal lives. We tend to forget about these aspects or the player. Perhaps the player’s only happiness comes from participation in hockey. For others it could be there freedom from abuse parents. We have to keep this in the back of our minds and always create an enjoyable learning environment.
“Growing up, if I hadn’t had sports, I don’t know where I’d be. God only knows what street corners I’d have been standing on and God only knows what I’d have been doing, but instead I played hockey and went to school and stayed out of trouble.”
Continuing in the direction of life lessons, providing a fun and safe environment for the players, participation in hockey also keeps them out of trouble. If they are at the rink building relationships, learning skills and life lessons, they are likely to be caught on the wrong side of the law. A good reminder to constantly be a great role model and leader to your players.
“Everyone should have the same opportunity, and in many areas that’s not the case because programs are built around the elite.”
There are times when elite programs are useful. When I read this quote, I correlated it more so with the overall picture of hockey. In the US, you have one team that represents the country (US National Development Team). In theory, it gives every kid from every region and district a chance to compete. However, at the grass roots level of this ladder you have local coaches who are picking teams based on players and parents they already have relationships with. The kids do not get a fair shake and lets face it, having only one team is not a good representation of USA Hockey. Especially when these kids are chosen at a young age. If you are ‘off the radar’ it is rare that you will actually get a shot. USA Hockey has addressed this in a half-ass manner as they now want to put ‘feeder’ teams in major cities across the country. How is a kid from Anywhere, USA supposed to make a team at the age of 12 and move away from home?
“The love and passion I had for the game was my key. I never had that taken out of me by my parents or a silly coach.”
Really, it doesn’t get much better than that. Silly coach is paramount. It is a coach’s job to instill and feed the love and passion for the sport of hockey in their players. Taking that away is nothing short of a complete disgrace to the game.
“You hear all the time about European players playing the game. These players that come over at 17, 18 and 19, they just don’t all of a sudden become skilled. From the time they were little fellas, they learned the fundamentals of the game. Let them create.”
This brings up a recent conversation I had with a fellow coach. You rarely see European players in the NHL who are third and fourth line players. They are either top 6 material or non-existent. The European model allows the players to be creative and focuses more on the offensive aspect of the game. This creativity allows for better individual skill and better overall development. The earlier the player is able to develop their skills, the better chances they have to be placed in positions of opportunity and advance to the next level.
Authors Note: All quotes were taken from the website www.brainyquote.com