ST. LOUIS - If youth hockey teams in St. Louis are a little tougher to play against this season, here's why: they've been getting tips advice from the St. Louis Blues coaching staff.
Head Coach Ken Hitchcock and his staff are conducting free coaching clinics over the next several weeks to area youth, high school and travel coaches at Peabody Opera House. More than 70 coaches registered to attend the clinics.
"Being a coach is a big deal," Hitchcock said during his presentation Wednesday at Peabody Opera House. "You have an awesome responsibility and you have to take it seriously every day."
No one would know that better than Hitchcock, who ranks fourth all-time among NHL coaches with 757 wins. In 20 seasons behind an NHL bench, Hitchcock has led his teams to 14 Stanley Cup Playoff appearances and eight division titles. He won the Stanley Cup in 1999 and earned the NHL's Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 2012.
"The first coaching clinic I went to was in 1982 and it changed everything I did in hockey," Hitchcock recalls. "I was a coach that had no technical knowledge and all my philosophy was based on hard work, outwork the other team. I had no plan, no system. I left the clinic after three days with a total plan of how to play the game and I carried that plan with me for over 20 years."
Coaches attending the clinics will also get presentations from Associate Coach Mike Yeo (power play), Assistant Coaches Ray Bennett (penalty kill), Rick Wilson (defense), Steve Thomas (forwards), Goalie Coach Jim Corsi (goalies) and Video Coach Sean Ferrell (skating skill development).
"As somebody who has coached for 35 years, I can really appreciate the involvement by the Blues," said Dave Garth, who coaches hockey at Webster High School. "The Blues are doing well, and they're still staying involved in the amateur hockey community. I've come to clinics like this before, and it's great what the Blues are doing for amateur hockey."
"Everybody has information, everybody is going to talk about technical information and how to teach, but these clinics show the big picture part of what it means to be a coach," Hitchcock said. "I hope they leave here with a clear understanding of the responsibility that is ahead of them.
"We've gained the knowledge by going to clinics all over the world, and I think it's on us to pass it on to them."