Jack Blatherwick

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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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.

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Planning for the offseason? Move it or lose it.

 

By Jack Blatherwick
Let’s Play Hockey Columnist

‘Hockey athleticism’ is the ability to move your body quickly and efficiently in all directions … on skates. When it is combined with rink sense, competitiveness and stick skills, it looks a lot like Pavel Datsyuk or Sidney Crosby. Of course, only two in a million will attain that level, but every young player should train to move in that direction – at least until you turn 22 years of age.

Read more: Planning for the offseason? Move it or lose it.

The greatest gift

 

By Jack Blatherwick
Let’s Play Hockey Columnist

The greatest gift you can give an 18 year-old is an education. After all, they already have an iPhone, a car and every other expensive gift their parents couldn’t afford. So it’s time to tell the talking heads on sports shows that their idea of paying college athletes is the dumbest thing they’ve come up with – and that’s a very low bar.

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How do NHLers win battles along the boards? Connection

 

By Jack Blatherwick
Let’s Play Hockey Columnist

As a spectator, there are many things you can study that will make you a more effective player. In upcoming playoff games, watch how players go for loose pucks or ride an opponent out. You’ll see many high school and youth players reach with their sticks, while NHLers skate an extra stride or two to establish good body position or leverage.

Read more: How do NHLers win battles along the boards? Connection