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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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Making it Official - Q&A with Helen Fenlon

08/26/2014, 3:15pm EDT
By USA Hockey Officiating Program

If you’ve ever called USA Hockey with officiating registration questions, you’ve likely heard the voice of Helen Fenlon. As the manager of officiating administration, Fenlon is the brains behind registration operations. She started working with USA Hockey in 1991 and joined the officiating department in 1993.

Fenlon took a break from readying eager officials for the upcoming season to tell us more about herself and the registration process.


USA Hockey: How did you first get involved with USA Hockey? Did you lace up the skates or make the call on the ice a time or two?

Helen Fenlon: (Laughs) No, I wasn’t a ref or player. I was a mom and I had a child that played. I volunteered at the local association for a number of years and volunteered at USA Hockey. Before I knew it I was employed by them and have been doing this job ever since. It’s nice because I’ve seen the volunteer side and know how the local and state boards work because I did all of that when my kids were growing up.

USA Hockey: What’s a typical day like for you?

Helen Fenlon:
I work on the officiating registration. When everyone registers (to be an official) they are mailed out books to do the test and emailed information about doing the test online and ways to sign up for seminars online as well. Then I score the test when they come in for the closed-book test and basically answer all the questions that pertain to the ice hockey refs. I manage approximately 24,000 registrations when from August 1 through March. Once the registration period is over, we start getting ready for next year.

USA Hockey: How has the registration process changed in your 21-year tenure?

Helen Fenlon:
When we first started, we used to mail them out the application, have them mail it back with a check and then we would process it. Once that was done, we would mail them a test and they would mail us back their answer sheet when they were done. It was all done by hand back then. Now, for registration, they just go online and pay with a credit card and the test is also done online. It’s much easier for everyone involved.

In the past, we also would just do an open-book test, but it’s evolved into different levels of doing an open-book and closed-book test, and some do a skating exam, too. Also going into place this year, everyone will do an online seminar.

USA Hockey: Officials must be happy to have the process accelerated thanks to online capabilities.

Helen Fenlon:
It’s great for people to access the test faster and be able to turn materials around faster so they can start working. To some of these people, it’s a job. Others do it because they want to help kids. People do it for all kinds of different reasons. For me, it’s impressive to see people who stick with (officiating) for so long.

USA Hockey: How have the resources available to officials changed through the years?

Helen Fenlon: Right now, with the new rules and programs in place, the amount of resources available for officials education is improving, but we’re always looking for more ways to help our officials be successful.

USA Hockey: What’s one thing you want to remind everyone about?

Helen Fenlon
: It’s always been my goal for everybody across the country, whether you’re in Colorado Springs, New York, California or anywhere in between, to follow the same rules as far as being able to become an official and complete the registration. That’s the fair way, and it’s the best way to ensure the best quality of officiating throughout the country.

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