It’s amazing the extent parents will go to in pressuring their kids to develop the dream that they will one day play in the National Hockey League. Of course the odds are against them. Even when parents insist that their kids have the skill level, the law of averages keeps them at bay.
At Toronto Hockey Repair & Goalie Heaven, we have seen hundreds of thousands of kids walk through our doors. A handful have come close, but I can only say that two have made it.
A friend of mine who grew up playing AAA hockey in Toronto is now a valet driver for the Westin Harbor Castle Hotel. He’s happy with his vocation because at least he’s making money. His parents projected an image that he would be a millionaire by the time he was 20. They drove him all over the place, spent countless dollars on hockey schools and trainers, and it achieved absolutely nothing. His parents must have invested at least $100,000 up until they woke up from their slumber and told him that they couldn’t afford to put him through hockey anymore.
His parents knew all along that he wouldn’t make it, yet he continued to live in a fantasy world that simply materialized because of their ambition. In many ways, he lived their dream until they couldn’t afford it anymore. Years of important childhood social interactions were lost as he made his way to the rink daily. On the rare occasion he didn’t have hockey on a given day, his parents would be driving him to dry land training where the kids would run laps and lift weights mindlessly.
On the other side, a friend of mine who owns a hockey school was livid that he lost his position as a AAA coach. He told two of the parents that their kids wouldn’t make it to the NHL. He couldn’t handle the fact that these two parents were always getting involved in the team’s affairs. The two parents got together, raised enough money, and got rid of him. Quite frankly, they were scared and embarrassed to have their dream shattered by an honest individual trying to save them a few bucks.
Ironically, most of these hockey schools profit off of selling the NHL dream. Trainers know 99% of their pupils won’t make it, but will still gladly accept students when the price is right. The price is based on incentives that cater to positive reinforcement allowing the student to stay in the school for not just 1 year, but 10 years. It’s a consistent revenue generator that businesses live off of while putting parents into debt. It’s a belief system that kids will play AA and AAA throughout their childhood and eventually catapult into the NHL after the parents’ few hundred-thousand dollar expense.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming the NHL dream. However with hockey, parents must understand that this sport is like digging a pit for your money. I find most AAA parents are far too concerned with their social hierarchy in the community rather than the kids themselves. The kids that play for fun who develop teamwork and social skills will reap an endless amount of benefits from the beautiful game itself. My valet driver friend now just wishes his parents gave him that money as a present.