I remember being sent down to the minors while in my first year playing for Jersey and the colorful coach Tom McVie was at the helm for the Utica Devils. My stay was about one month and close to 10 games. In the middle of that stay our power play went about 0-40 at one point and we had a full day of practicing the power play. Coach McVie worked the scoreboard and placed two minutes up on the board and we had to score a goal or he would make all the players skate who were on the power play. I think we may have scored one goal during the course of almost one hour and it was the first time I witnessed full scale fights with power play and penalty kill players during a practice!
While in the middle of playing a game in Rochester during this terrible streak on the power play, coach McVie went crazy when a penalty was called on the other team. He stood up on the edge of the boards waving his hands in the air to get the official to come over to the bench.
The official finally came over and asked Coach McVie what he wanted. In the loudest, deepest voice, our coach said, “We decline the penalty; take that guy out of the box and the two minutes off of the scoreboard!” He went on to say that we played better five on five and had no players that could play on the power play. Needless to say, when play resumed nobody was looking at coach to be put out on the power play! At one point during this power play drought our coach would yell out at the end of each unsuccessful power play. As the time clicked off to zero in the loudest voice possible he would yell, ”zero for 34” and then “zero for 35!”
My fondest recollection of this wonderful streak was after one practice when he had every player talk about what they thought could be done to make the power play better. By the time it got to me there were only the two goalies left and every single topic that I had ever heard had been brought up about the power play. Not to mention Coach McVie was sarcastic with every player by repeating what they said and would add, “shoot the puck from the point,” and with his hand rubbing his face he would follow up with, “Now there is a super idea, shoot the puck from the point.” He then looks over to me and nods to signify it was my turn to pontificate and be ridiculed. Just to fill the silent void that crept over the locker room I said, “I don’t know.” Big mistake! Coach said as loud as he could, “I don’t know, I DON’T KNOW, your on the thing aren’t you!” He stomped out of the locker room to his back office and all the way there he was saying, “I…. don’t….. know, I don’t know…..” Once back in his office with the door shut you could still hear his muffled voice saying it over and over again.
We did break the streak but by the time my stay was over, I learned so many wonderful things from Coach McVie. He taught me how to play smart and how to work hard. He had such a great sense of humor and a passion for the game that is unmatched in my book. The best lesson he taught me was that I would do whatever it took to not return to Utica, NewYork or the minor leagues again!
For Seagate Technology's In The Crease, I'm David Maley.