Why Does Coaching Matter?
Plus, TOR's process & how to beat the overload
Today’s newsletter will be short and sweet, as I am vacationing in Southern California.
Topic 1: The Importance of Coaching
Yesterday, I drove to the Los Angeles Kings’ practice facility in El Segundo to watch a young AAA player who I typically work with via Zoom.
During the game, I learned that his coaches employ a relatively old-school approach focused on playing a simple, vertical game and dumping-and-changing late in shifts.
The second part really caught my attention.
On three occasions, my student dumped the puck into the OZ and immediately returned to the bench instead of holding onto the puck, delaying, and maintaining possession until teammates sprinted off the bench and into the play.
All three times, the opposing team retrieved the puck successfully and was able to threaten off the counter-attack.
Valuing possession and understanding the importance of control starts with the coaches.
Beyond “letting players play,” the simple lesson here is “don’t waste pucks.”
Topic 2: The Maple Leafs’ Depth
TSN.ca’s analytics writer Travis Yost published an article about TOR, in which he noted that every single Leafs player is above break-even in 5v5 expected goals this season.
How did the Maple Leafs achieve this?
Having worked in scouting, player development and AHL coaching in the TOR organization, I can give you a simple overview:
Scouting: Find players who can make high-end plays
Development: Teach players to turn bad pucks into good pucks
Coaching: Let players leverage their skillsets while reinforcing the importance of not wasting pucks
Topic 3: Beating the Overload
Yesterday an SHL coach wrote me asking how to create offense against an aggressive overload DZ coverage, what I call a Five-Tight. It’s a very popular DZ scheme on North American small ice, but something more rarely seen on the European circuits.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when attempting to diffuse such a compact defensive scheme:
It’s important not to force passes from the corner through multiple checks
At the same time, only using rims and low-to-high passes means playing into the DZC’s hands
The attackers need to find a way to exploit the DZC’s compactness
Here is how CAR and WSH approach the same problem: