Career Advice You Don't Want to Hear

Hockey Tactics 2021: Prologue

Time is precious, but not always valued fairly.

A young coach calls for advice.

This progressive assistant of a successful developmental program is at a career crossroads. As his team’s head coach departs, my friend mulls over two job opportunities: one as the head coach of his current team and another as the second assistant on a professional team.

“(The pro team)’s GM would rather hire someone well known, with pro playing experience,” he confides. “But with my skillset, I think I’d do well. And it’d be a great learning experience.”

“I’m sure you’ll learn tons,” I reply. “But I’m concerned whether you’d be learning the correct things.”

Here’s the problem: many team owners and GMs are biased about what constitutes job experience.

Ex-players with no coaching experience routinely beat out successful career coaches for high-profile openings. Minor-league head coaches get first dibs on major-league assistant positions even though their own assistants are sometimes technically and tactically savvier. Video coaches are at the back of the line in the race to the summit. The majority resign themselves and settle in for the long haul in the back room while others take sizable detours via the junior and European leagues just to wind up third in the pecking order on an NHL staff.

The experiences of non-NHLers, non-head coaches and the non-connected are discounted to a comical degree. How can you win when your 10 years equal one year for your competitors?

If a serf wants to become a lord, the sword is more effective than the spade. He’ll never get there by simply working harder or longer.

“You need to run your own program, hone your ability to develop and lead, then make a run for the job that you really want,” I say. “Doing it your way doesn’t guarantee success, but doing it their way guarantees failure.”

Fitting in is overrated. Sometimes it’s better to break the mold and create your own.

Whether you’re an aspiring player, coach or manager, this book will provide you with information and perspective to do things differently. And hopefully better.


You’ve just read the prologue of Hockey Tactics 2021, the second edition of a hockey book like none other. Ten chapters of some of the best ideas in hockey, written by a former NHL analyst/AHL coach. Get the ebook via Gumroad