The NHL is the light at the end of the tunnel for many boys, teens, and young men who dream of playing in the NHL one day. Hockey is a religion and NHL players are the Gods to kids all over the globe. The road to the big show isn’t easy and players who become stuck in the minors quickly come to realize that their lifelong dream of being a starting forward for their favorite team may be out of reach.
Reality can set in for kids at a younger age who are unable to make the Rep team, let alone get drafted into the OHL. So what are the chances of actually making it? A book published in 2013, called “How Hockey Parents and Their Kids Are Paying the Price for Our National Obsession” outlines these chances in detail. The authors studied 30,000 players. Of these 30,000 players, 48 were drafted into the NHL and 32 ended up seeing some ice time for one season. Only 15 players of the 30,000 signed for consecutive seasons. Are the chances looking a bit slimmer for your young lad to become the next Sidney Crosby?
It seems as though when you don’t make it to the big leagues, that you find another shot with the birth of your son. Surely you’ve learned from your mistakes and if you force them to practice, buy them top of the line equipment, pay for private power skating, and maybe even invest in an agent, they’ll definitely make it! Think again crazy hockey parents.
Here are the top 15 reasons you’re not lacing up next to Jonathan Toews during the playoffs this year.
15. You Weren’t Big Enough
Size does matter, especially when you’re trying to become a professional hockey player. You might have the greatest hands in the minor leagues, but if you’re only 5’8 scouts are likely to overlook you. Size is one thing that coaches are unable to teach. If you’re angry about being short, blame your parents. Your gene pool is at fault. Short players in the NHL are few and far between for a reason. Scouts are looking for players who have it all including skill, size, and dedication. This does not mean short players never make it, as there are smaller statured men who are in the NHL, it was just harder for them to get where they are.
14. Mediocre Coaching
Minor hockey is filled with coaches who are selfless enough to dedicate their time to their son or daughter’s team. With this being said, we have all experienced bad coaching, or coaches who don’t know the game very well. In order to become better as a player you need coaches that will push you, continue to improve your technique, and teach you more about the game to make you a well rounded player. The other issue with minor hockey coaches is favoritism. Whether they’re willing to admit it or not, it exists. If his or her son or daughter is on the team, they will get to play every penalty kill and power play. If your coach lacked positive communication, or held a winning is all that matters perspective, chances are they didn’t impact you in a memorable way.
13. You Were Lazy
Now this might be hard to admit, but if you skipped practices to go to parties or dillydallied on the ice, chances are you were a lazy player. Did you keep up with your dry land training during the off-season? Or did you pull a Kessel and only hit the ice 10 times during the summer? In the NHL, there is no room for players who seem like they don’t care about the game or look like they’re not trying. Therefore, the forwards who don’t back check or the cherry pickers who glide around waiting for the puck don’t stand out to scouts. You have to hustle.
12. You Didn’t Make the Rep Team
Chances are if you weren’t making the rep or selects team as a youngster, you weren’t going far in competitive hockey. Now, this doesn’t mean that these kids don’t have an equal passion and love for the game compared to more talented players, because they do. At some point though, it’s important to realize your limit, and this can actually be harder for parents to accept than their athletic kids. Considering the amount of incredible players who never make it past the minor leagues in the AHL, you need to be realistic about your chances of making it are slim to none. Accept that your talents may lie elsewhere.
11. You Didn’t Have the Resources
Hockey is an expensive sport to play. For some kids, it’s too expensive for them to begin playing at all. Registration fees, equipment, tournament and travel costs all add up to a pricey amount. Costs to keep up with adequate training does not stop once the season is over. Hockey schools, power skating, personal training, a nutritionist, and an agent will put a serious dent in your wallet. For some kids, these types of high caliber resources weren’t a reality while pursuing their dream.
10. You Weren’t a Team Player
In order to be a successful team, everyone has to pull their weight to get the job done. When it comes to hockey, getting the job done means putting the puck in the other team’s net and keeping it out of your own. Everybody grew up with a puck hog on the team. The players didn’t mind if the kid put the pick in the net, but the parents would repeatedly yell from the stands to pass the puck so their little superstar could have a chance at scoring a goal.
9. You Had Brick Legs
Hockey players are known for having tree stumps for legs, but having bricks for legs is not a good thing. To say it nicely, you were slow. Quick feet are a key part of keeping up in the big leagues. Your team is only as good as your weakest player, and therefore your team is only as fast as your slowest player. Chances are if you were last to finish suicides on the ice, you weren’t the star of the team. In order to make it to the NHL, you need to stand out, and slow legs make a player stand out for all the wrong reasons.
8. You Were Forced to Play
Growing up in Canada, many kids are put into hockey before they’re even capable of making a decision. It’s Canada’s favorite past time, so it’s assumed that every child should love the game. However, if your parents forced you to play, practice, attend hockey camps, and so forth, you may have begun to dislike hockey altogether. No one likes being forced to do anything, let alone play a sport that you may not have enjoyed. Pressure from parents and coaches can deter kids from wanting to play, even if it’s just for fun.
7. You Lost Interest
In order to make it to the NHL, you need to have an undeniable love and passion for the game. The guys who play the game they worship for a living never lost interest in becoming a better player. They worked hard, trained hard, and at the end of the day it got them to where they needed to be. Perhaps you found a sport you enjoyed more, or found you were better at other hobbies or activities that you were more determined in pursuing.
6. You Were a Fighter
The game isn’t as rough and tough as it used to be. If you were primarily known on your team for being the intimidator or aggressor, chances are you weren’t making it all the way based on the bruises and broken bones you could inflict upon others. Even the toughest men in the NHL can still handle the puck well and are strong technical players. Scouts are looking for the complete package, not just a goon who will take off his skate to stab somebody, Happy Gilmore style.
5. You Were Always Injured
Every team had a player who seemed to be injured all season. Often times these players were actually good, they just had awful luck or were prone to getting hurt. Whether they were concussed, suffered broken bones or sprains, the injuries that hockey players can experience are endless. Clearly, the less you played, the worse your chances were for becoming a better all around player. Depending on your age and injury, your parents may have even pulled the plug on you playing all together. Although frustrating, constantly being injured may be an indication that hockey wasn’t the best choice for you and your overall health.
4. You Didn’t Have an Agent
An agent can help create chances for players to be seen by the right people at the right time. Professional hockey players who had an agent prior to making it to the NHL reaped the benefits both in a financial sense and added opportunities. It is recommended that if you are serious about making it to the NHL, or you want to help your child make it, they should have an agent by the time they’re fifteen. Now, this doesn’t mean every fifteen year old should have an agent, but if there are multiple teams at the Major Junior level who have expressed interest in you or your child, then an agent is the way to go.
3. You Didn’t Have the Connections
It’s all about who you know, not what you know, right? As you move up into higher levels of hockey, politics become more evident. The guy sitting beside you in the dressing room might be the son of an NHL coach or trainer; the guy on the other side of you might have an older brother who’s a seasoned vet in the show. One way or another, whether it’s through family, friends, or their agent, almost every NHL player had a connection that aided in getting them to the professional level of play.
2. You Didn’t Get Drafted
Considering the road to the NHL relies heavily on being drafted, if you weren’t, the dream could’ve possibly ended there. Although being drafted does not give you the golden ticket into the NHL, it does help to become recognized and provide an opportunity to play for an NHL farm team. From there you can wait to be called up, but you’ve got a fighting chance. Without being drafted, it’s even harder, and nearly impossible to become noticed by scouts.
1. You Were a Goalie
It’s tough being the goalie to begin with as you’re constantly blamed for losses and you’re the last man standing to defend the pipes. Think it’s hard to make it to the NHL as a forward or defenceman? Try being the guy between the posts. If you’re a winger, centerman, or defenceman, you can be moved around. If the coaching staff feels you might perform better as a winger than on D, no problem. This increases your odds of making it to the show. However, as a goalie, you can play one position and one position only.
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