Get more ice time … become undeniable

04 Apr Get more ice time … become undeniable

What does it mean to be undeniable?  – Daniel Erlich

Ice time, or lack thereof, is one of the biggest complaints from parents in hockey. It’s also one of the biggest scapegoats parents use to deflect accountability from their child.  The Philosophy on ice time is simple… coaches want the team to be successful so they tend to play the players that they trust most to achieve that success. When I was playing for the London Knights in the OHL, Dale Hunter taught us that if we do the little things right, he won’t have a choice but to give us ice time So he goal was to become UNDENIABLE. 

5 Things that will make your ice time undeniable:

  1. Being Responsible Defensively = Undeniable ice time 

When a coach is deciding who to put on the ice, they needs to trust that you will not be a defensive liability. The concern of the majority of coaches is to protect the defensive zone and manage puck possession until the other team makes a mistake. This is what is meant by the saying “the best offense is perfect defense”. Always think, defense first and you will always be an asset to your coach.

  1. Being the hardest worker on and off the ice =  Undeniable ice time  will make you undeniable 

Giving 100% all the time is a very tough thing to do. You can’t teach it. You have to be born with heart. The reality is that although talent can carry a player through their minor hockey years, the response to adversity is what allows a player to never get outgrown by the game. When players get bigger and the rinks seem to get smaller, the tough always get going. There is always someone who wants to take your job. Don’t let anyone outwork you. Your work ethic is the only thing you can truly control… it’s contagious.

  1. Finding your role and mastering it = Undeniable ice time 

Where minor hockey coaches base everything on talent in a desperate attempt to save their over inflated salaries and hide the fact that many are great recruiters and salesmen but really cannot coach, rosters become more balanced in senior years of minor hockey. Coaches recruit based on ghost rosters and specific roles, not the best players that they can scramble to find.  What a player feels they are best at becomes less and less important compared to what vision the coaches has for their unique contribution to team efforts. Everyone has different roles on a team. Whether you are the goal scorer, or you are the player who gets to take that defensive faceoff at the end of the game. Master the craft. That’s a big part of being undeniable.

  1. Being a lifelong student of the game = Undeniable ice time 

Many of the top NHL players are still students of the game. There is a great article that outlines how Austin Matthews spent a whole off season watching videos of Kucherov in order to become a betters shooter.  Not only do they look to learn from each others, they always watch video of opponents tendencies and try and figure out ways to win. Whether you are a goalie who watches videos of the other teams top players on breakaways or a centerman who watches the oppositions faceoff plays, studying will make you proactive and proctivity is a big part of being undeniable. 

  1. Being a leader will make you undeniable

In times of adversity, leaders are looked upon to lead by example.  Loud and animated or silent and present… aim to be a leader. Help teammates get better, carry those that need it on your back. Be dependable, be approachable, and set the tone in the room and on the ice. Do the things that other players are not willing to do so that they will come to understand their own shortcomings. Setting the tempo makes you undeniable.

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