Jack Blatherwick

Bad traditions don’t die soon enough

 

By Jack Blatherwick
Let’s Play Hockey Columnist

For more than a century, it has been fashionable for team coaches and strength/fitness instructors to think they are drill sergeants. They aren’t satisfied with an exercise until everyone is gassed – until tongues are dragging on the ground.

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The defensemen are winning the dump-and-chase battle

 

By Jack Blatherwick
Let’s Play Hockey Columnist

No doubt ‘dump-and-chase’ is a strategy that wins in the NHL Playoffs, but we’re selling our younger players short if we don’t allow them to learn offensive attack by trial and error. At what age do we totally abandon playmaking and insist on ‘getting it deep’ when we cross the red line?

I don’t know the answers, and they aren’t mine to make. I do know that if youth and high school hockey are nothing but platforms for adults to win games – if a coach doesn’t have the patience to allow turnovers when youngsters try creative plays – that coach will never have a hand in the development of a Patrick Kane.

The reliance on dump-and-chase hockey in the NHL is another story, of course. It’s a business. If the coach doesn’t win, he’s done – well, maybe that would happen to a PeeWee coach. Are the missions the same at the PeeWee and NHL levels? That’s a scary thought.

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Playing by the rules promotes safe, skillful hockey

 

By Jack Blatherwick
Let’s Play Hockey Columnist

The guardians of tradition in the NHL (the Don Cherry over-the-hill-gang) have successfully swung hockey backwards a few years. They stubbornly defend the tradition that refs should bury their whistles during the playoffs, so games are decided by unwritten rules. Of course, this favors defense and thuggery over skill, so the team that hoists Lord Stanley’s Cup will be survivors of a game that differs from the regular season like night and day.

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Expert analysis and unwritten codes

 

By Jack Blatherwick
Let’s Play Hockey Columnist

I found a new TV channel. Or was I online?  Well, maybe I was just dreaming. Wayne Gretzky was doing the color commentary on a channel that wasn’t listed, and I compared his thoughts side-by-side to the ‘expert analysis’ on NBC/NBCSN (which I will now call NBCxx). 

After the first offensive rush it was obvious the same play was seen from different perspectives.

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Training with tennis

 

Agility, quickness, lower-body strength, anticipation, competitiveness: Does that sound like hockey?

By Jack Blatherwick
Let’s Play Hockey Columnist

Coaches I’ve addressed over several decades, define ‘hockey athleticism’ as, ‘Moving your body quickly and efficiently in all directions.’ In other words, speed, quickness and agility are at the very top of their priority list for development of young talent, alongside rink sense, competitiveness, stick skills and skating fundamentals. Summarized, it is ATHLETICISM, SKILL and ANTICIPATION.

Read more: Training with tennis