Duluth, Minn. – After four days of presentations, breakout sessions, fun and learning, the 2021 Level 5 Coaches Symposium concluded in Duluth.
Day four began with remarks from USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher.
“I want to thank you all for being here and helping get our game back to where we want it to be,” he said. “What you do in your communities and at your rinks is so important, so for you to be here is very important.
“We have 37 states represented here, which is fantastic. The impact that is going back across the country after this event is spectacular, and truly special and significant.”
After Kelleher, the attendees were greeted by a familiar name in Ty Hennes. Why a familiar name? Well, the Pittsburgh Penguins skills and development coach was talked about by head coach Mike Sullivan for about 10 minutes during his presentation the day prior. Everyone in attendance was able to feed off of the knowledge Hennes presented on skill development.
“You all have very good drills,” said Hennes. “How do we implement these drills to help with our skill development that will help translate to the game? The training environment must resemble the game environment.”
Following Hennes’ presentation was a final breakout session, where coaches are able to take what they know, continue to build upon it and learn from other presenters like USA Hockey’s ADM regional managers.
Everyone then convened in the big ballroom for one final speaker. That speaker was Detroit Red Wings head coach, Jeff Blashill. Blashill began his presentation talking about representing the U.S.
“I remember welling up when I first represented the U.S. as an assistant coach of the Hlinka [Gretzky Cup],” he said. “I told myself I would never take the opportunity to represent the U.S. for granted.”
Blashill has three times been at the helm of the U.S. as the bench boss of the U.S. Men’s National Team. He commended the attendees for their commitment to the game.
“If you’re in these chairs, you don’t just come to these symposiums. You’re committed to growing as a coach.”
As the final speaker of the symposium, he wanted to make sure that he conveyed the message that the coaches not only listen to the material, but understand the material and be able to take it back to their organizations and apply it as best they can to their particular situations. He also made sure to emphasize that this is not just about hockey.
“Just remember that we are all trying to prepare our players for life after hockey. It’s about not only growing the kid as a player but growing them as a person.”
As Blashill finished, coaches shook hands, exchanged contact info and began to wrap up. It was clear the connections and impacts made throughout the weekend will spread throughout their organizations and across the country.
And thus ended the 2021 Level 5 Coaches Symposium.