This July, the Hockey Coaches Conference is coming to Toronto from July 18-20.
I’ve written about this conference before and how much I enjoy attending, but I have to say, this year they really went above and beyond in the collection of speakers they have brought in. A quick list of some notable names:
- Peter DeBoer
- Mike Gillis
- Paul McFarland (Leafs new Assistant Coach)
- Bob Boughner
- Rikard Gronberg (Team Sweden Head Coach)
Obviously, hearing McFarland speak will be particularly interesting for me given I write about this team pretty well exclusively. Beyond him, though, I’ve generally been a fan of Pete DeBoer – two Cup finals, a Memorial Cup, and he seems like a bit of curmudgeon, which I have a lot of time for. Gillis built a team that had one of the best regular seasons in NHL history and I’m sure has more than a few interesting tidbits to share. The international game is a different animal so hearing that perspective from Gronberg will almost certainly be really interesting, too.
Really, though, conferences are what you make them. I’ve heard some great presentations where I learned more than a few things, but the real value was how accessible these individuals all are in the free time. I’ve told this story before, but Jim Montgomery was there while he coached with Denver and it was pretty clear when he was talking that he would be an NHL coach whenever he wanted to be. He pulled up the tape and broke it down so intelligently that I was in awe. When I went to speak to him after, he was willing to send me game tape and further breakdowns/breakout information, and when I emailed him the week after, he responded with hours.
Eakins was another – he openly passed on his cellphone number and was more than available for a few phone calls. For me, an under-the-radar person to speak to was Scott Arniel, who has been in the game for a long time. We actually discussed some on-ice structure and team building activities for roughly 40 minutes, some of which I took back and implemented with a AAA minor peewee team to some reasonable success.
The spectators were almost as impressive as the speakers – Sheldon Keefe was there, John Torchetti, Drew Bannister (currently a Head Coach in the AHL, also a really stand-up guy that had more than a few minutes to talk), and more.
This isn’t the only coaches conference I’ve been to and I’ve done a collection of training, courses, certifications, you name it, but this is the only thing that has provided me any value. I’m excited to be going again this year and hopefully will get to see a few of you there. Here’s a preview video of the event: