By: Taylor Dupuis
It’s hard to imagine what Herb Brooks’ reaction would have been if someone told him that his US National Team had been fined for the “punitive training” it went through as he continued to blow his whistle in the famous scene of ‘Miracle’ insisting on his players to skate the length of the ice “Again!” and “Again!” and “Again!”. Well, imagine no more…
Last week, the coaching staff of the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats decided to put their team through a bit of a conditioning skate after a tough 5-1 loss. But the skate couldn’t wait until their next practice, instead, players were sent back out on the ice after the game for their skate. As a result, the league fined the team $2,500 for what the league referred to as “punitive training.”
That’s right, the best worst memory most hockey players have is now considered breaking the rules.
The good ol’ fashion bag skate.
The 15 to 20 minutes where you are pushed to your limits with the 20 other players you go to battle with on a nightly basis. The same 15 to 20 minutes of knowing that the guy beside you is going to keep going for the guy beside him. The same 15 to 20 minutes where you undoubtedly grow and come together as a team.
This isn’t me sitting here saying bag skates should be part of every team’s routine, but would it be crazy to think that they can build and make a team grow stronger?
On top of that, there are jobs on the line here. A coach’s job is to win games, and they know more than anyone that it’s easier to replace one guy than it is to replace 20 of them. So when has it become a sin to try and get the most out of your players?
I can understand that amidst the whole CHL class action lawsuit, everyone’s a little more cautious in making sure their not stepping on someones toes. I see this as the first sign of precaution that we have seen from any of the three member leagues and I’m sure it won’t be the last but I do think that the QMJHL might have jumped the gun a little on this one.
Here are my reasons why:
#1. Plain and simple, bag skates have always and should always be a part of hockey. It is a simple measuring stick for conditioning. It doesn’t take long to notice what players put in the work and what players don’t. It also doesn’t take too many of them to begin seeing a difference in your conditioning. Don’t believe me, see for yourself. (Just make sure no one’s watching or it could end up costing you.)
#2. Let the coaches do their job. There’s a reason they’re in charge and more times than not, it’s because they know how to handle certain situations in certain circumstances and at one point in time, have likely been in the same position that his/her players are in. Let the GM/Owner of the team judge their coach’s decisions, after all they are the ones who hired them to win games.
#3. Because the players deserve it. That’s right. Sometimes we flat out suck and we don’t have any sort of excuse for it because we simply didn’t have it that night. Sometimes that night turns into three or four in a row. What good is it if we’re going to start engraving into players’ minds that it doesn’t matter how bad you were or how much better you need to be, there will be no consequences. How do you expect a team to battle through a little adversity if you’re not letting them experience it. Give me a break, you want your team to come out stronger in the end, make them go to war for each other.
What confuses me more than anything is the message they’re trying to convey. I mean, what is it? How can you possibly see any sort of benefit from implementing this rule? Why are we trying change and ultimately abolish something that is never meant to be changed? Our off-seasons are nothing but pushing ourselves to the limits. It’s crazy and sometimes we even ask ourselves why, yet we do it day after day and year after year because that is how we are bread.
Remember the speech from Louisville Women’s Basketball Head Coach Jeff Walz ranting about participation trophies? There was a reason this video garnered so much attention and why it has That reason is ultimately because it’s exactly what we needed to hear. Have a listen
“Everybody gets a damn trophy. You finish last, you come home with a trophy. You kidding me, what’s that teaching kids? That it’s okay to lose, ”
“We lost tonight, we’re losers. There is no trophy for us. Unfortunately the way kids are brought up today, there is a trophy, because nobody wants anybody to get their feelings hurt. In the real world, I’m not sure how it is with your jobs, but with mine if you lose enough, you get fired.”
Everything about that video is pure gold. Jeff Walz could not have done a better job putting into perspective what adversity is all about and what it can teach us.
You can only hope that this is not the trend that hockey is going in because if it is, it won’t be long before we’re playing with tennis balls and games start no later than 4:00pm so that we’re home for dinner. Fingers crossed that next year’s Kentucky Derby isn’t on a Merry-Go-Round and that the Stanley Cup isn’t played on a bubble hockey table.
Until next time,
Taylor Dupuis #29