DiscoverGrassroots: The Minor Hockey Show
Grassroots: The Minor Hockey Show
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Grassroots: The Minor Hockey Show

Author: Richard Bercuson

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A provocative, in-depth podcast that examines the world of minor hockey, from coaching to program development to the myriad of issues faced by everyone in the game.
60 Episodes
Episode 60 - The Room

Episode 60 - The Room


This one begins with the story of the dressing room eavesdropper before a championship game. Then, host Richard Bercuson reveals three short tales of his own dressing room talks that didn't go well. Otherwise though, this episode delves into what coaches should or should not be saying in minor hockey dressing rooms, let alone how they say it. And the guest host does an even deeper dive into a topic that is rarely examined.
We are inundated with drills from a host of sources. Leagues host drill exchanges. Coaches can access software that will provide them with more drills of every possible type than they will ever need. As tools, or learning opportunities, drills can serve a purpose. More importantly, however, is that using drills may be stultifying coaching creativity and not providing our young players with the kind of direction they should have. Then, there's the infernal whistle. In this episode, Richard and his guest host break this down and identify alternatives.Books: "The Hockey Handbook" by Lloyd Percival, "How to play hockey" by Tom Watt, and "The Road to Olympus" by Anatoli Tarasov.Videos: Funny Golf Tips by J.C. AndersonCounting to 100 in French with NYC cabbie
After a few months of reflection and other distractions, host Richard Bercuson returns with a list of new topics he will address in future shows, along with a guest host. The minor hockey addiction, development planning, triages, how to teach space, what is said in a room and many more are on the agenda.  A new ride is about to begin on the only podcast about minor hockey.
This shorty is the last podcast for the long, Covid-laden season. A few words from the host and then we'll be back in August with more great interviews and discussions about the minor hockey world. Till then...
The teaching of skating has improved immeasurably over recent years. While aided by improved technology, it's mostly because of a crop of eager young development people who explore ways to teach not just old skills but also the newer ones the game is being built on. One of those riding this wave of expert instruction is Jon Cara, a development teacher at a facility in Winnipeg, The Rink. In this episode Jon discusses his approach and offers advice to coaches of the key components they need to teach.
As David Laszlo heads to Finland to oversee development and coaching for young teens, he sees that his new club seems to have a strong vision for its future. There will, of course, be new challenges, such as finding proper goalie coaching and dealing with parental issues. Some things never change though. Here's more from Laszlo and his Norwegian goalie coach Frederik Meling on minor hockey in that part of the world.
Chicago native David Laszlo was once a middle school teacher and later owned a pro shop where he often sharpened the skates of some Carolina Hurricanes players. Today, after eight years coaching minor in Denmark, Finland and Norway, he has learned much about hockey overseas and his own skills as a coach. For instance, he uses his whistle judiciously and talks less, a lesson he learned in Detroit when hearing that ice cost $400 per hour. "Am I worth nearly $7 a minute to hear myself talk?" Here's his conversation, along with his Norwegian goalie coach Frederik Meling, and host Richard Bercuson.
USA Hockey's ADM has radically changed the game south of the border, accomplishing much of what it had aimed to do years ago. It has increased participation in the sport and, at the same time, made US hockey a world power. In this episode, we see how it works in a Massachusetts community, as described by Al Ramsay,  who coaches and directs the program where he lives near Boston.
At age 13, after years of playing various sports with boys, Kim McCullough began playing hockey. Just five years later, she was playing Div. 1 hockey at Dartmouth followed by stints in pro hockey. She's coached girls in junior, AA, and in national programs in addition to running development and strength/conditioning programs from her home base in Toronto's Leaside Girls Association. Her next challenge is stepping out of coaching and into mentoring and a broader development framework. What is she facing?
For no apparent reason, Grassroots goes in a completely different direction in this episode which, on the surface anyway, is not at all connected with minor hockey nor even sport.  The late economic historian Carlo Cipolla theorized that underestimating the stupid is done at our own peril. But why?
Anyone who's been around minor hockey for any length of time has heard them, perhaps even used one. From the standpoint of halting personal growth and/or organizational development in their tracks, three common statements are at the forefront. How will minor hockey's leaders ignore them and move forward or, as stated in the podcast, learn to discover new oceans by first leaving the shore?
A mock interview with a coaching candidate launches this episode into a discussion about how to conduct these things in a minor hockey setting. One of the biggest questions addressed in this podcast is whether or not interviewing coaches is even necessary in most instances.
At first, while hanging around his hometown Scarborough arena, Steve Kouleas wondered why there were hockey players with ponytails. Then he grew up, became a well known sportscaster and hockey nut and is now host of an NHL Live show on Sirius XM radio. Along the way, "Kool" watched the female game with awe, had two daughters, put them in hockey and saw what they - and he - got out of the game. Oh, and yes, he has thoughts on how to improve the female game, as good as it is already.
There was a time when Gaston Marcotte was considered one of the finest hockey teachers anywhere. Though not well known outside Quebec, his teachings, books and hockey school were regarded as vitally important foundations for how the game should be taught. Podcast host Richard Bercuson was at one time one of his instructors, an anglo among francophones. They finally reconnected late last year. Marcotte no longer teaches hockey. Instead, he has set himself a new goal.
Yes, minor hockey has been butchered by Covid, with thousands of kids unable to play or practice. A lucky few,  especially at the more elite levels, have at least had some ice time. What does the future hold as teams, players and coaches look ahead to a hopeful fall. Oshawa coach Tony Stabile discusses what he's been doing with his AAA group and what the future holds for him and his players.
As Covid has decimated nearly all youth activities, junior hockey has been especially hard hit. For instance, older players have been forced to end their careers early, denied finishes to last season and with practically nothing to show for this season. Trenton junior A head coach and general manager Peter Goulet describes the impact on his club and then describes his approach to finding the right players. 
Writers talk about their "voices." So do singers who have distinctive styles. What about coaches? Do we have voices and do they change - or should they - from one age group or level to another. Dean Holden, who has a vast background in coaching different levels and is completing his PhD in coaching, discusses how he approached it, especially in his earlier years.
What seemed to have begun in hockey with Graham James in terms of awareness of abuse and sexual violence has certainly not ended there. Sexual violence is ever-present, as we know from high profile cases, but has also been even more horrifying in the realm of sport. Two university hockey players, Amy Graham and Patti-Anne Tracey, are attempting to make discussions, awareness, and prevention more mainstream through a unique web site and series of lessons. In this podcast, they describe what they learned and how they're going about it. Their site is:
Canada's volunteer-based minor hockey associations are the foundations of the sport. But how efficient are they and what could they do to improve? Is there a place for a type of board or board member training program like coaches, trainers and officials have? Former Hockey Eastern Ontario Executive Director and association president Richard Sennott discusses this.
It's regarded as the most important position in the game. And yet, finding coaches to work with goalies is challenging, let alone unearthing ones who are skilled and knowledgeable enough to provide up-to-date instruction. In this episode, Richard talks with Stefan Nichols, an Ottawa-based professional goalie teacher, about what goalie coaches need and where to find them.
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