Just like any other fall evening, Bruce Boudreau and his coaching staff went over game strategy and video in front of a room full of watchful eyes. But it was under much different circumstances during an evening last week in the Ducks locker room at Honda Center.
Boudreau, along with assistants Bob Woods and Brad Lauer, held a symposium for close to 35 local youth and high school hockey coaches, showing each of them the Ducks approach to many aspects of the game.
During the 90-minute session, Boudreau imparted neutral zone coverage techniques, while Woods focused on defensive coverage and Lauer took on methods for creating offense -- all three using video of past Ducks games to reinforce their points. Throughout the evening, they took questions from the group, which included former Ducks and current Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League coaches Craig Johnson and Dave Karpa.
“I think we just wanted to get the message across, not only how we do things, but why we play the way we play,” Boudreau said. “We just want to simplify things for kids. If we can help them on any little coaching tidbits that we’ve experienced or gone through or watched, that was our intent.
Added Boudreau, whose son Brady is a goalie for Orange Lutheran in the ADHSHL, “We know these guys are such great volunteers and put so much time and effort into it, but we want them to realize the kids are just kids and simplify things.”
Boudreau, whose schedule is obviously more open during the current NHL lockout, said he and his staff would have tried to hold a clinic like this no matter the circumstances – and plan to do more in the future.
“I’m a firm believer that I was put on this earth to help and grow hockey,” he said. “I see the way it’s grown since I was here with the Kings (as a coach in their minor league system) in 1999-2000 and where it is today. It’s grown so much, and if the coaching staff and I can help grow it, that’s great.
“We love the sport and we think it’s the greatest on earth. We want more people to play it. When you get some 40 volunteer coaches willing to spend their time to come listen to you, we want to do a good job and help them.
The coaches in attendance were seated at rows of tables reminiscent of a college classroom, where they jotted down notes as the coaches spoke and tossed out questions.
“It’s always good to hear the guys up top, to see what they have to say and see some of the things that I may be able to implement into my own practice plan and game strategies,” said Chris Koras, who coaches a Jr. Ducks Midget 18U AA squad. “Obviously, these guys know what they’re doing, and to have the opportunity to sit down and listen to them for the last hour was extremely helpful and I think I’ll be able to implement a few things starting today.”
Jim Burcar, who leads a Jr. Ducks Midget 16U AAA team, was among those in attendance who has been coaching for some time, but he said it’s always valuable to learn varied methods. “It’s the same game, but there are a little different ways to teach and reinforce what we’re doing at the grassroots level and even for the older kids looking to move on to junior and college hockey,” he said. “There were many things to take away and it really reinforces things that you’re doing and new ways to teach the game.”
Burcar is one of those who will likely take up Boudreau on his offer at the end of the clinic: to have coaches ask any follow-up questions through email and have them answered by one of the Ducks coaching staff.
“The game of hockey over the last 10 to 15 years has changed tremendously, so to see what they’re doing at the highest level is invaluable for guys like us coaching younger players,” Burcar said. “It’s awesome to have these coaches available for any questions that we might have.”