Jim Dinwoodie is the head coach of the North Shore Winter Club’s flagship team, the Bantam A1’s. A staple at the club and throughout British Columbia because of his work with the Team BC program, Jim’s influence is felt throughout the hockey world.
Except, still, not enough people know who he is and what he’s all about.
Part of this is just because it’s Jim’s nature to under-sell himself. He believes in his players and he believes the program he and associate coach Mitch Pinsky have put together. Jim says he’s been fortunate to have experienced coaching success, he’s ever reluctant to accept praise for his accomplishments.
Here’s part 1 (of 3) of my interview with Jim Dinwoodie.
KC: Everyone has a different path to the winter club, tell me about yours.
JD: I got into coaching fairly young, it was basically a favour for a friend. I wasn’t a great player, I played a little bit of Junior B hockey, a little bit of junior A, but I was good skater. I was probably a better skater than I was a player.
KC: I know that game.
JD: Haha yeah. So I went through the minor hockey route coaching and quickly realized I needed to educate myself on the game if I was to have any real success, so I started down the path of certification, which I realized would be crucial to advancing to the next level.
KC: But it all started with realizing what you were good at first, the skating.
JD: Exactly. Skill development, hockey schools, skating, that was my thing, that was how I started. I relocated into Vancouver after coaching my cousin’s son in Williams Lake as mostly a favour. I was looking for a home and I ended up going to Coquitlam for a couple years. That’s when I really got the education bug for coaching and really went after it. I got into the Best Ever program and was incredibly fortunate to be mentored by the folks in that program.
KC: You think you were in the right place at the right time?
JD: I really was. I think of it now, and wow was I lucky. It was those guys at that point who made me realize I didn’t know half as much as I thought I knew.
KC: You must have been putting yourself out there though, you say you were lucky, but you put yourself in that spot, right?
JD: I think my one trait that I’ve moved forward with is persistence. I was told ‘no’ more than yes, and I finally just showed up and told them I’d push pucks around. I’ll do that, I’ll push the pucks, that’s what I told them. Then they let me keep showing up and we started to build a relationship. One thing led to another and I developed my style and the persistence paid off.
KC: Did that persistence come from your playing days? You say you were kind of a bubble guy who had to fight for everything, is this now living on in your coaching career?
JD: Right, nothing came easy to me as a player. I could skate, but I was one of those players who could sit and watch the game and understand what was going on. I grew up playing soccer, I had a little but more of a well-rounded background when it came to athletics. I remember being punished at higher levels of hockey because I wandered, the coaches didn’t like the way I played. In those days you didn’t wander, it wasn’t how the game was played, so I didn’t play a lot. And I remember thinking, there’s a better way to do this.
KC: There wasn’t a lot of room for creativity.
JD: There was none in that era.
KC: Are we going back to that? You’re going to play your 1-3-1, like Martin St. Louis in the playoffs a couple years ago, yelling at his bench and asking Jon Cooper what to do because the other team wasn’t trying to attack their trap. That’s lunacy! That’s my worry, that we’re headed back into the days of no creativity.
JD: There seems to be a prevailing belief, and Brent Sutter vocalized it a few years ago with the world juniors, worrying that the Canadian game was getting away from the creativity. I think the single sport athletes have less spatial awareness. Nick Petan, a player I had the pleasure of coaching, had this wonderful way of looking at the game and it was all from soccer. He was a great athlete. He played with another undersized winger who was a lacrosse athlete, Adam Rockwood. He was super smart.
KC: I’ve coached a player like that in Ryland Chernomaz, he’s a genius, but he gets distracted, but it also lets him see things in the game no one else can see.
JD: That’s Rockwood, mistaken for many things, but incredibly smart and looks at the game in a unique way.
That’s the way it is with Jim. He believes in looking at the game in new ways. Building on the strengths of the game, but looking at the sport as a whole and always wondering how we can improve it.
In part 2 (publishing after Christmas), we talk Olympics and the real way for players to get more ice time. Hint: it’s not scoring goals.