A record number of New England hockey coaches – some 500 in all – descended on TD Garden early Saturday morning for the annual Boston Bruins Coaching Symposium. The event, held in conjunction with USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program, brought together Bruins coaches, USA Hockey staff and a throng of youth hockey leaders to share ideas and advance the game in Massachusetts and beyond.
“It’s always a great event, but I think this year was the best yet,” said USA Hockey’s Roger Grillo. “The Bruins organization always does a first-class job of hosting and the turnout was terrific. It was definitely a good day for hockey in New England.”
Boston’s coaching staff opened the morning with a series of presentations. Claude Julien discussed the role of a head coach, while Doug Houda and Massachusetts native Joe Sacco covered offensive and defensive tactics. Bob Essensa, the Bruins’ goaltending coach, focused on development between the pipes. Boston assistant coach Doug Jarvis, still the NHL’s leader in consecutive games played, discussed practice planning and reminded attendees to keep it fun.
“Everybody loves games,” said Jarvis. “But it’s important that, in your drills and at some point in your practices, you create some sort of fun situation or game to make sure players enjoy practice time as well.”
After the Bruins' coaching presentations, it was time for breakout sessions. Grillo built on Jarvis’ practice-planning focus with a presentation on teaching concepts through small-area-games. USA Hockey’s Ty Hennes, Ken Martel and Mark Tabrum were also on hand to cover a range of topics from skill development to USA Hockey coaching resources. Following the breakouts, Boston's John Whitesides assembled attendees to discuss strength and conditioning, as well as nutrition, sleep and recovery. He also mentioned the value of playing multiple sports, noting how several of the Bruins players were multi-sport athletes as children, building a broad base of athleticism, and how that helped them succeed in the NHL.
Following the event, USA Hockey Mobile Coach activity surged, as more than 700 hockey aficionados created new Mobile Coach accounts to take advantage of the vast resource library. Some 60 percent of the new registrations came from New England-based coaches.
“We’re excited to see so many coaches diving into the Mobile Coach resource,” said Tabrum, director of USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program. “There’s so much there, from practice plans to videos and everything in between. It’ll be a great way for them to carry over the ideas from our time in Boston and implement new things into their own programs.”
Following the symposium, many of the attendees remained to watch a Boston Bruins practice that, fittingly, featured a robust serving of station-based drills and small-area games.
“It’s not just for youth hockey players,” said Martel, technical director of USA Hockey’s American Development Model. “Stanley Cup contenders do it too.”
Notes: The Boston Bruins Coaching Symposium attracted more squirt coaches than any other level, with more than 150 10U coaches in attendance… Ron DeGregorio, president of USA Hockey, joined the Bruins coaches in opening the event… Mike Dargin, Boston’s manager of youth hockey development, and Kerry Collins, the Bruins’ director of community relations, were once again instrumental in making the annual symposium a can’t-miss event for hockey coaches throughout New England.