Looking for a place to get the phat 411 on the happenings of the Central Hockey League and other musings on the vast world of hockey? You’ve found it. Sort of. I’ll give you the “inside edge” on whatever I get the whim to, but I can’t keep up with everything now that there are teams as far from the ol’ WPHL stomping ground (Texas) as South Dakota. Welcome Rapid City! (Right. Next season.) So
let me know if you have a brilliant idea for something I should write about (not including how your favorite team is really great or Colorado sucks or how much the officials suck or how much taxes suck, pardon my language) or someone I should interview. Maybe I’ll retool my interview with Bobby Orr and share that next…. We’ll see.
Meanwhile, this first column will shed a little light on the role of a coach as experienced through the duties of former New Mexico Scorpions head coach Ray Edwards, who must know what he’s doing ‘cause he’s on his way up that ladder. You read it here first.
Goodbye Past, Hello Texas
Edwards has gone the way of coaches shooting for the moon. He’s accepted a position as assistant coach for the San Antonio Rampage, an AHL affiliate with the Phoenix Coyotes. In the off-season, Edwards told me that his ultimate goal is the NHL (duh) but he ain’t just talking the talk….
A Freaking Psychologist
Edwards also shared the dynamic approach for a successful team, including, “strength and conditioning, off-ice training, nutrition, mental stuff. We deal with guys mentally every day. I’m a freaking psychologist sometimes. Every day I’m dealing with someone who’s had a bad day, a wife problem, a girlfriend problem, lost a family member. Everyday, someone’s in my office. That’s all part of managing your group. If you can’t manage that stuff, you lose your group.”
Raise your hand if you go to your boss with girlfriend problems. Edwards said, “That’s part of it – you have to be a boss sometimes, you have to be a father figure, a mentor, a leader, a friend. You have to be all those things and if you can’t, I’m telling you, at some point during the year, it’ll explode. We have internal issues all the time that [fans] don’t hear about, but they happen all the time. Family issues, medical issues, there’re a million things that go on.”
Giving it Ten Percent
Okay but otherwise, I guess a team is a business. Edwards agreed, “I’m the HR guy though – I’m it! We have to manage that stuff just like any company. If you want good people and you wanna keep them, they’re not going to be perfect all the time. Coaching the Xs and Os is 1/10th of what I do. The actual systems, the penalty kill and power play, are so far down the list.” That’s news to me but I guess if you think about it, even at the Double-A level, the guys really know what they’re doing. They just have to learn the new coach’s system and after that, it’s all about staying healthy and focused enough to work hard and execute the plan effectively.
Which is why new Scorpions head coach Randy Murphy has the bases covered. History with the team as a dynamic forward, cheque. Internship learning the other end as the defensive coach for Edwards last season, cheque. Degree in sports psychology, cheque. All systems go.
Me? I’m off to the land of hockey and social health care, wondering how many more folks in the US would try recreational hockey if they didn’t have to worry about the high cost of a broken ankle. Get this: with a lot of luck maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to experience a NHL game in Canada (Montreal). I’m betting it’s way different than sitting at a game in Phoenix, where half the fans wear the visitor’s jersey.
Hockey Buzz Word (courtesy of Edwards): “upside” = potential.
Commonly used by recruiters and media who cover the draft, to describe a young player. “The rookie showed tremendous upside in his first NHL game,” a.k.a. he’s gonna tear it up. Smokin’ hot. Keep your eyes on the puck.