Following one of his nine coaching seasons Winnipeg JetsPaul Maurice had an idea: Could he be too ambitious about the movie he showed his players?
Videos are one of the training tools used by coaches. Maurice, now teacher of Florida Panthers, the eighth favorite in the Stanley Cup playoffs and one win away from the Cup Final, wondered how his staff could expand the conference. How many times do they have to show the order before it appears in the game? Can they recognize the time lag from video training to on-ice performance?
Maurice also wants to make deeper calculations: Does his choice of video affect the psyche and behavior of the players?
“What happens when we put one player on all of our bad plays, even though I know it’s not about that one player, if I’m picking on him? Or if I keep showing a player doing good, because I like you like that player?” Maurice said. “We wanted to get the results of the movie we were showing.”
So Maurice and his co-workers began to take a break.
“From Monday to Thursday, all summer, from 9 in the morning until 1 or 2 in the evening, we all got together and reviewed everything,” said Pascal Vincent, who was one of Maurice Winnipeg’s assistants. “We were looking for ways to improve.”
The Jets staff recorded videos that featured the team last season and tracked what happened in subsequent games. They put each piece into three categories: good video, educational video, bad video. The analytics department took it from there.
When the data was collected, the coaches couldn’t help but see a pattern.
“We realized that we were getting better results and better visibility when we were showing good videos,” Vincent said. “Of course, there are many exceptions, but that’s what the data said. I’ve read a lot about this topic in other life situations, and it confirmed what I felt.”
The feeling has become more common in the NHL: Coaches are finding it more effective to build confidence through encouragement rather than beating players all the time. And that’s especially true with millennials and Generation Z.
“A bully coach, right, wrong or otherwise, has no chance in today’s game,” Detroit Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde said. “That’s the reality of players these days. You still have to answer them, but you have to do it in different ways.”
Call it the Ted Lasso effect. Heck, NHL players are even naming a fictional football coach, who is known to have had a lot of fun. Wounds yoke Linus Ullmark made a mistake in managing a long stretch of Game 5 in Boston’s first series, which led to the Matthew TkachukFlorida’s winning goal. Later, Ullmark met the press and cameras at his locker, relaxed, he wrote, and even smiled at times. “You have to have the mentality of a goldfish,” said Ullmark, a quote that echoes through television.
The popular show is a microcosm of social change, which includes a new emphasis on good health. The workplace in several industries is changing as young people want something different — and often, less — space than their predecessors. Historically, it was different from the high-profile, difficult nature of professional sports. Not anymore.
“Good, encouraging answers – maybe people need older generations too,” said the Bruins forward Garnet Hathaway31. “It wasn’t common or they didn’t support it. But now, you see it as a way to open more possibilities.”
The change in the game is obvious, and it leads to a moment of self-reflection.
“Overall, this world has become very careful, sensitive. Children are now growing up without being scolded, so they don’t know how to react when they are scolded.” Colorado Avalanche forward Evan Rodrigues, 29, said. “When I was growing up, I used to get yelled at, it got me into the game, it made me think more. Now when someone yells at me, I just take it differently. It’s good for them to come up to me and say, ‘Hey! I know you’re better than that.’ I used to prove people wrong and now I like to prove people right.”
This idea enters into one of Vincent’s experimental teaching methods.
“Even if a player is struggling, there is a reason why he is here [in the NHL]” Said Vincent, who this season served as an assistant coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, one of the youngest teams in the league. When you lose your confidence, you go back to the basics of what you do well, and it helps them find it again. “
Most of the players interviewed for the story pushed back on the idea that coaching should always be motivational — or that the NHL has changed completely.
A player on the Eastern Conference team said: “My coach makes me play aggressive twice a week. And I’m good, if I deserve it.”
One player also described the “rudeness” of one of his former coaches, who is still behind the NHL bench. “They talk loudly about you, if you’re in earshot,” the actor said. “Of course because he is they want you to hear.”
Others in the league see the downside of the uber-positive approach. Prior to Maple Leafs‘ After the Panthers’ second disappointing loss, news emerged from some circles that Toronto’s management had created an environment where its best players were too busy, and thus had no tools to deal with the challenges of hockey.
One veteran player in the league said he’s seen a gradual change over the past few years and “it doesn’t make me happy.”
“Not to be a ‘back in my day’ guy, but … it seems like we’ve softened up as a league,” the player said. “There are certain dinosaur behaviors that need to be done. I can’t condone mental or physical abuse. But this is a sport, and it requires accountability and toughness. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable sometimes. It’s okay to be yelled at. or called out when you don’t meet the criteria. That’s what makes you strong.”
Former player Ray Ferraro, an 18-year NHL veteran and current ESPN analyst, put it bluntly: “Sometimes you have to be tough, but not a hole. Because the old way doesn’t work.”
Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanenthe 26-year-old, called himself a “little boy,” but said, “I don’t care [coaching] sometimes.”
“I think the best way to look at it is the best, but it can’t be the best; it has to be the best,” Rantanen said. “[Colorado coach] Jared [Bednar] he does that well. When we don’t play well, they show it. Even when there is a game where we only sleep a little, he shows up the next day and goes crazy. And this is how it should be. “
After Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, Dallas Stars Coach Peter DeBoer said he had a bit of focus on his players following the loss. Vegas Golden Knights.
“There are certain issues with your team that you have to decide as a coach,” DeBoer said. “Is this the time to back it up with the calm voice of reason, or is this the time to turn the screws and get in a little bit more? I think you can go for the latter most of the time.”
Coaches have also adapted to another millennial and Generation Z covet: visibility. Young players don’t need to accept what’s happening, they just want to know why. Bednar said he’s used to being clear and communicative.
“What’s happening, and it’s clear to me now, is that if guys don’t know more, they’re going to have bad ideas,” Bednar said. “I always thought if I don’t comment on something, then you know you’re doing well. I like my guys to know: If I don’t come to you, it’s a good thing.”
But over the past few years, Bednar has noticed that approach hasn’t always worked, especially with younger players. If the players did not receive anything from him, they would assume the worst, or look to other places for answers, such as social networks, which can be difficult.
“If a guy plays 10 minutes a night most of the time, then all of a sudden he has a game that’s 7½, he’s going to be like, ‘Oh my God, what did I do wrong?’ Then the misconceptions come in,” Bednar said. “So I try to distract. You have to get out of your way. Now I try to walk them through the locker room and say, ‘Hey, good job last night,’ so they have something, even if I’m sitting. ‘I’m not doing meetings.’
Lalonde said he has made exposure a priority for the Red Wings.
“I never had a list until I told the player it wasn’t available, and why,” Lalonde said. “You have to be honest.”
Lalonde set an example this season in a game that scratched one of his leads.
“We spent as much time as the staff putting three or four points on a guy that’s not on the roster as we did in preparation for the next night’s game,” he said.
Maurice still remembers what he learned on tape but is not ready to explain the facts.
“I don’t know if there’s a solid idea for any team,” Maurice said. “Every team is different, every player is different. The most important thing is to understand the human nature of it all.”