I was reading through some articles I wrote last year around this time even though I’m terrified of reading old work, and one common thought struck me as I cringed throughout each piece:
Don’t get me wrong, we shared some good stuff last year, but it was clear that early on in this project the intention was not to ruffle any feathers. The articles are helpful, but not brutally-honest-helpful.
With that in mind, here’s the truth about ice time.
In major midget hockey there are 12 forwards instead of the common 9 or 10. For plenty of parents this is an adjustment. At the beginning of every major midget game with the Giants I try to make sure everyone gets on the ice.
And by the end of the game it’s difficult to find players who aren’t out of gas.
Parents, less players is not better regardless of the level. It’s a team sport and teams win games, not individuals. Parents often comment that they’d rather see less players on a team because their child will get more ice time. How much more, really? Other than extreme circumstances, if there’s one or two less forwards, how does that add up over the course of a game? Or the course of a season?
More players is good because it promotes quality of ice time over quantity.
Why do parents worry so much about their child being on the powerplay? The prestige? Status? Bragging rights?
Preposterous. Some players are better at scoring goals for the team.
The team. It’s a team game, people.
The time is negligible, so worrying about the time is an inefficient use of your time. And energy.
And the reality is that coaches see things differently. I once coached a player, Carmine Buono, who didn’t play a minute on our powerplay for an entire year. Carmine didn’t say a word, and then he went to Junior A hockey as a 17 year-old and played on their first unit powerplay. Oh, and now he’s going to the University of Massachusetts as an 18 year-old on a full-ride scholarship.
We all know ice time varies from player to player. It’s impossible to keep it even, and even if it was, why would you? Fair ice time doesn’t mean equal ice time.
I’ve coached bantam, atom, peewee and midget in the last five years, and players normally understand that their ice time will fluctuate because players want to win. Do they want to contribute to the win? Absolutely. It’s not fun when you lose ice time, but there are times when the importance of winning a game outweighs the importance of spreading the ice time around.
This is a life-skill, understanding that your perception of reality might not always indicate fairness, but as in all things on and off the ice, we’re only responsible for elements we can control.
Elements such as our work ethic, our attitude and refraining from complaining about ice time.
Sorry for the blunt honesty everyone. Next week I’ll be back with a friendlier post, 10 Reasons Why Hockey Is Good.
Wait, that might actually be a good one…