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Laviolette stands by his laptop, and managing information

06/26/2005, 12:45pm EDT
By John Raffel

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- Peter Laviolette realizes it doesnt matter if a hockey coach is on the pro, minor, college, junior or youth level. The Carolina Hurricanes head coach made it clear to his audience of more than 500 coaches that everything is made a whole lot easier by mastering one aspect of the job: managing information.

With a laptop sitting in front of him on the lecturn, Laviolette explained to coaches how one of the most valuable pieces of advice wasn't how to utilize the information they gather about their own team and the opponents theyll play, but how to store and eventually manage it.

"I'm interested to see what you coaches use to store your information and how they become more organized," he said. "I was looking for ways to manage information, from things like practices and team meetings. With free time during the lockout, I tried to do something that would help make me a better coach."

So Im not here to talk about something like forechecking. Instead, Im here on how to manage information better.

First, said Laviolette, he had to set up his equipment, starting with the laptop. He acknowledged that managing information may not be considered the most important part of a coachs job.

But I do think its important, he said. It has to be available. Have it on your laptop and carry your laptop at all times. Then youll have it whenever you go. As a coach, youre making an investment in yourself.

You have to somehow manage the information youre trying to process or store. Its entirely up to you. Ive tried to come up with a way to take the information and put it in the database. It has to be neat. Sometimes, Ill put the information down on my card. It has to be neat and it has to be legible.

Ways to store information, though, is still a work in progress, even for Laviolette. I try to categorize things and do it as simply as possible. You categorize teams that you play, in our division or in your conference. I dont really want to type a lot, but I do want to be able to move it around as quickly as I can.

Laviolette said he takes information on the teams rosters and downloads it.

You then have the strengths and weaknesses down on each player. In effect, youve created a resume on that player and can do it for the whole team, he said. I can also create a database based on the forecheck, breakouts and other areas. Every time you play a team, you create a folder for that team with things like a players strengths and weaknesses.

And, for Laviolette, that information lasts forever.

You can go back to any game, Laviolette said. Ill have a snapshot on what happened that night. Ill have a depth chart of what the teams did that night. Im going to keep track of referees the same way, [as in] what he called and whether he lets you get away with the rough stuff. That way, you have a referee database.

Laviolette said hell apply information toward a video so players can easily digest what the tendencies are in certain situations.

That way, I can give a player a quick snapshot on what they try to do and what we can do to counteract it, he said. I did this because I wanted to become more organized. I have no plans to sell it. Its not a complicated system. But I know what I want to do and what needs to be done.

Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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