A friend of mine that frequents my store was once a AAA coach and instructor. He drives a tow truck and on occasion I had my car towed so I can safely say I respect his profession. Even though he was coaching his AAA son, he rightly knew that his son wasn’t up to the skill level of some of the players on the team. His reasoning was that even though some of the kids are bigger and physically stronger, it really makes no difference because in the end everybody catches up.
He was stressed by other parents telling him that he has to win games even though he was cognizant that even in the NHL, when one brings up a rookie up too soon, they would often fail because of a lack of skill and confidence.
For some reason, his son would always fear the drive home as though he would be criticized. For him, it didn’t matter whether or not he was rewarded with a win or loss, it was whether or not he played a good game. As a coach he felt that it was the culmination of a dream that he had to fulfill not so much with his kid, but for other parents whose dreams had to be fulfilled.
He told me that he was sick of the process, even the owner of the organization would ask him to increase the budget for his team. For example, if the ice time costs $250/hour, he had to make sure to charge $350/hour and throw a few extra bucks the owner’s way. It was one of the few ‘rituals’ he couldn’t comprehend.
He told me, “There are only a few AAA players that can play the game and everyone is competing to belong in the top 3 teams that the scouts have their eyes on. Sometimes a father who has cash will pay for another player to play on his son’s team in order to become competitive. This will positively impact a father’s social status on a team.”
Another comment he made was quite interesting, “I’m more of an administrator than an actual coach. The parents fight the battles for the kids, when their kids lose the game they feel like they’ve greatly disappointed their parents.” These parents think that the only path to the NHL is through AAA. Parents often go as far as swearing and yelling at the coach, demanding him/her to be tougher with their children.
He feels that it’s all a numbers game and that only about 3 competitive AAA organizations dominate the entire realm of the GTHL. Most parents simply wait until there’s a vacancy among the top teams. I asked him why he wasn’t happy coaching AAA. He looked at me, “What can I be happy about? Taking parents’ money? Having bogus tournaments where kids can’t compete? If I have a budget to meet and if a parent cuts me a check for $20,000, I have no choice but to play the kid even though he lacks skill. On top of that, I have to ascertain sponsorship money to pay tribute to the organization.”
He concluded, “The way the organization works is that they steal parents’ money and treat kids like crap.”
A good coach is there to improve and acquire life skills for the children and work on their ability for them to work together as a group. What is happening now is not related to the skill and knowledge of the game. Many of the top teams pay for the top players to play on their team. A coach is there to influence the pivotal role for the sport itself. They are responsible for the skill level and the growth of a competitive team.
There are just too many coach related factors that go against the grain of hockey and I simply couldn’t take it anymore. I told him that he’s failed as a coach. He paused and reflected, “It’s the GTHL that has failed. It is their greed that has failed, not me. That’s what happens when you have old men running an organization governing the majority of minor hockey for over 60 years.”