The NHL Coaches’ Association is committed to supporting the development of hockey coaches around the world and at all levels of the game. With the impact of COVID-19 being felt globally, now more than ever we are dedicated to demonstrating this support.
The NHLCA Mentorship Program was initially rolled out as a pilot Program for coaches in the NCAA, USHL, ECHL and AHL between February 10 and March 9, 2020. A combined 200 coaches from these groups were able to participate in live webinars led by current NHL head coaches around the topics of leadership, communication, career advancement and other advice for coaches looking to enhance their coaching skillset.
The Program used online webinar technology to accommodate the extremely busy schedules of NHL coaches. The webinars took the format of a half hour presentation by an NHL head coach followed by an open Q&A with the participants. The online platform allowed each NHL coach to deliver their presentation remotely to a large group of coaches no matter where on the road they may be during the NHL season. Each webinar was recorded and made available to those not able to attend the live event.
The Program was intended to roll out on a broader scale next season beginning in October 2020, but given the impact of COVID-19, the NHLCA has moved up the launch of the Program to start Friday, March 20, 2020. Coaches from across North America and Europe have been invited to participate in the Program directly by their Association/Federation.
“Now more than ever, the hockey community needs to come together and support each other in these times of uncertainty,” said Lindsay Artkin, President of the NHL Coaches’ Association. “Our NHL coaches have been tremendous in taking a leadership role in doing just that. They remain committed to helping in the continued development of all hockey coaches around the world, especially in these challenging times.”
The Program will include over 20 presentations from NHL head, assistant and goalie coaches over the coming 6 weeks, with representation from nearly every NHL team. Topics range from leadership, communication, networking, and career advancement strategies to advice about implementing systems, player development, and opponent scouting tactics.
“We have a responsibility to take a leadership role in the development of hockey coaches,” said Ralph Krueger, a member of the NHL Coaches’ Association, and Head Coach of the Buffalo Sabres. “We’re so fortunate to be coaching in the NHL, so sharing our knowledge and insights with the next generation of coaches is the least we can do.”
Krueger will be leading a webinar with over 400 coaches from nine European Ice Hockey Federations on the topic of career development, specifically discussing his own path to the NHL and highlighting differences between coaching in Europe versus North America, to which Krueger is aptly able to speak.
Given current protocols from governments calling for social distancing, the online webinar technology used to deliver the Program is fitting.
“We’ve been overwhelmed with the support of our NHL coaches in helping us roll out this Program 6 months ahead of schedule,” said Michael Hirshfeld, Executive Director of the NHL Coaches’ Association. “We truly believe it can have a meaningful impact on the development of coaches around the world, and during this difficult time, banding together to support coaches is so critical. It’s a role we feel a responsibility to play.”