Next week in Toronto, the Mattamy Athletic Centre (formerly known as Maple Leaf Gardens) is hosting the Team Snap Hockey Coaches Conference. This is the first time the event is running in Toronto (it originated in Vancouver and is going on its sixth year there).

If you’ve never heard of it, allow me to take a minute to explain. This is a two-day event happening next Friday, July 15 and Saturday, July 16. Coaches of all levels are brought together from around the globe to learn about the latest coaching trends, strategies and technologies.

I’ll be attending next week and I’m extremely excited. The line-up is stacked with a good mix of hockey people, media and analytics. The full list can be found on their website here, but it includes Canucks Head Coach Willie Desjardins, Head Coach/GM of the North Bay Battalion Stan Butler, San Jose Sharks Assistant coaches Bob Boughner and Steve Spott, Bob McKenzie and James Mirtle, to name a few.

I spoke with the founder, Aaron Wilbur, and he noted that the attending list is quite impressive as well. There are multiple pro coaches signed up, including at least one member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Toronto has two of the largest minor hockey associations in the world (the GTHL and OMHA), and now it is adding what is, really, the Ted Talks of hockey. Some of the topics for this event include:

  • Fuelling performance in the 3rd period
  • Developing defensemen
  • Breakouts off dump-ins vs. breakouts from DZ coverage
  • Developing face-off strategies and techniques
  • How to run an effective practice

The entire itinerary can be found here.

There are limited tickets still available, so if you are interested I would act fast. The registration link is here. If you have a group of people interested or a hockey organization you would like to pass this information to, I would recommend getting in touch with the founder at (there are group discounts available).

If you are unable to make the event but are still interested in the presentations, they do have a membership section that will give you access to all the conferences that have been put together as well as exclusive weekly content. Registration for that can be found here.

Personally, I am hoping this is something that can become a big time annual event in Toronto. I know talking to members of the MLHS community that I’m not the only one involved in minor hockey. Conferences like this done well — which we really lack in hockey in general — provide a great opportunity to learn, grow and network, whether you’re interested in coaching, analytics, sports media, or just want to expand your knowledge of the game.

The best part about this, to me, is it’s not just people at the amateur level trying to grow here. It goes all the way up to people working in pro hockey.

Kevin Constantine, the Head Coach of the Everett Silvertips, attended and said it best:

This year the coaches there from our league were Don Nachbaur, Don Hay, myself and Lorne Molleken. I don’t know why those guys were there or other people weren’t. All I know is those other guys have a lot of wins in this league (1,872 combined as they rank second, third and fourth in career WHL coaching victories), and there they are. They’re at a coaching clinic as attendees, listening to speakers and trying to learn when you would imagine after being in this league as long as they have there’s nothing left for them to learn. I just think that you’re either getting better or you’re getting worse, I’d like to stay on the side of continuing education because I want to keep getting better.

Leafs Links

Brendan Shanahan on centennial celebration, Mitch Marner’s weight, Matt Martin & Roman Polak signings, early Auston Matthews impressions

He’s impressive. He really is. Obviously when you take a guy first overall, you know he’s a special player, but when you see him up close… maybe a couple of the things that jumped out at me more than I expected – you see the size, you see the speed, you see the hands and the skill level, but I would say his speed has surprised me. His quickness, his first step.

Centennial season hinges on young Maple Leafs

“We want to put the Toronto Maple Leafs back in their rightful place,” Shanahan said.
What that means for next season is progress.

Shanahan, establishing himself as a pragmatic leader over two-plus years in Toronto, wouldn’t say progress meant a return to the post-season for the Leafs, who haven’t won a Cup since 1967. He promised only forward steps for an organization that is likely to be flooding with youth next season.

Leafs’ pick Middleton celebrated draft at IHOP

“My brother really wanted to eat at an IHOP, so we said we might as well go in. There was a TV in the corner with the draft on and my name popped up (fourth round, 101st overall). Jacob jumped up and started pointing to the screen and to Keaton shouting, ‘That’s my brother!’ ”

Parents Steve and Darlene started to cry.

“It was a pretty emotional scene for an IHOP,” Keaton laughed. “There were a couple of Leafs fans in the restaurant and I got to take pictures with them.