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Posted On Monday, 11.21.2011 / 12:00 PM

By Pat LaFontaine -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Making of a Royal

Mental preparation key tool for coaches to instill

In this week's "Making of a Royal" blog, coach Pat LaFontaine discusses his team's preparation habits for major national tournaments. LaFontaine and his assistants -- Steve Webb and Scott Donahue -- draw inspiration from the coaches who shaped them as they implement mental and physical preparation.



One thing that Steve, Scott and I, the three coaches, constantly do is look back at your playing days. I think you earn an appreciation and a greater respect for all the other coaches -- I was very fortunate to have some tremendous coaches during my playing days -- but you constantly reflect back and appreciate and respect the job the coaches do to prepare the team on a regular basis.

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Posted On Monday, 11.07.2011 / 1:11 PM

By Pat LaFontaine -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Making of a Royal

Improving Royals benefit from power skating

In this week's 'Making of a Royal' blog, coach Pat LaFontaine discusses the team's recent second-place finish at the Beantown Fall Classic in New Hampshire and the tremendous work done by power-skating instructor Jacki Munzel. The Long Island Royals National Team defeated Little Caesars (Mich.), the Junior Bobcats (Conn.) and the Valley Junior Warriors (Mass.), before suffering a 2-0 loss to the nation's No. 1-ranked Under-16 team, the Chicago Mission. The final day of the tournament was cancelled due to inclement weather along the East Coast.
 

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Posted On Monday, 10.24.2011 / 10:54 AM

By Pat LaFontaine -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Making of a Royal

Looking back and looking ahead


The Long Island Royals Under-16 Midget National team entered the weekend ranked No. 2 in the country with a 19-1 record. The club recently earned the championship of the East Coast College Cup in Connecticut, outscoring its opponents 23-4. The Royals defeated the Junior Bobcats in the tournament final, 3-2. The team has been led on the score sheet by Daniel LaFontaine (6 goals, 17 points), Joey Fallon (9 goals, 16 points), Justin Bailey (8 goals, 14 points), Nicholas Hutchison (4 goals, 13 points) and Michael Marnell (6 goals, 10 points). The defense and goalies Matt Atwell and Peter Fosso have been solid.
 
Head coach Pat LaFontaine assessed his team's performance last week and is looking forward to the next big tournament later this month in New Hampshire -- the Beantown Fall Classic.
 

Prior to the East Coast College Cup (on the campuses of Wesleyan University and Quinnipiac University), the big thing we stressed to the kids was consistency and preparation. We wanted to make sure the kids were preparing themselves each game. We didn't want to get too far ahead of ourselves, but consistency is such a key to success. Teaching these kids how to get the puck deep, blocking shots, positioning and moving the puck are little details that need to be done on a consistent basis -- it all adds up. The mental preparation is so important in getting yourself prepared every game and every shift, so we express that a lot and kind of go over strategies and details on what we think will work best against certain teams. Overall, I would think consistency is the biggest word.
 
Both our goalies had a strong tournament. We scored 24 goals and gave up only three in the five games. The kids found a way to win that last game and it was really exciting for them and for the fans knowing the hard work paid off. I really believe that four-month summer program we endured under Chris Reichart really helped improve the stamina and endurance.
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Posted On Monday, 10.17.2011 / 12:25 PM

By Pat LaFontaine -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Making of a Royal

The difference between dad and coach

Royals coach Pat LaFontaine blogs about coaching his son, Daniel

Even before I became an assistant with the Long Island Royals seven years ago, I always asked my son, Daniel, each year if he wanted me around the team. As long as he gave me the green light, I was OK going behind the bench. He liked me coaching and liked me on the bench, but he liked having another coach there, too, so I kind of helped out.

When I became the head coach three years ago, I had an opportunity to continue coaching Daniel, but I still asked him if he would prefer I wasn't behind the bench. I've always been very cautious because I try and put myself in someone else's shoes and never wanted (Daniel) to feel any pressure, although all boys want their dads to be proud. I wouldn't say much. My dad never said much to me and I don't say much -- the assistants usually say something to Daniel because he only hears dad's voice.

Thing is, he doesn't hear a coach's voice when I'm talking so I don't say much. In some cases, if you're not careful, it could be a lose-lose situation. Having Stevie (Steve Webb) there, and formerly Jack Greig, was great. They were the ones who would always speak to him and I kind of just stayed out of it, in an indirect way, when it came to speaking to the team. Hopefully that'll have an impact for him and some of the things I've learned. I'm excited about when he asks me, "Hey Dad, is Coach Webb going to be there?" What's exciting for me is he really wants to impress Coach Webb … I'm just his dad. You know what? I'll take that to the end. That puts a smile on my face, and I hope for him this is something he chooses to do and he loves to do. If he chooses to, and I can help in an indirect way, it's been fun. I ask him every year, do you want me to coach, because I can sit in the stands, but he likes me behind the bench.

I guess I see some similarities between what Daniel does on the ice and my teenage years on the ice. He works hard, sees the ice well and seems to be more of a playmaker. But he can score goals when he has to. He's a team player, like all the kids on this club. As a coach, you have to be real objective and I try to talk to the players just as a coach. I have the other coaches talk to Daniel, and it seems to have worked in a good way because right now I think all dads who have 15- and 16-year-olds … we're not too cool. I think we embarrass our kids sometimes because we try to say too much.
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It's tough to realize, maybe, but it's something I'm happy and proud [of]. I've been fortunate to play with good teams too.

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