2 Things That Are (Negatively) Contagious on a Hockey Team

Posted on April 5, 2024

As the season winds down, some players are saying “I wish our season could continue”, while others are saying “I wish this season could end”. The latter have probably been on teams that had what I call “negatively contagious habits”. Here are two examples.

Players Not Moving The Puck

I was coaching a VHL (3v3) game a couple of weeks ago. On paper, one of the lines was loaded from top to bottom. But at the end of the game, they were about a minus-7. It was pretty obvious as to why. Player A didn’t make a pass until about halfway through the game. Player B started coming to the bench and complaining to Player A about not passing. Then Player B stopped passing to Player A.

When you and your line-mates are at odds..

I’m all for selfish play. If you’re the best option and you have the puck on your stick in a scoring area, by all means, let it hang. 2-on-1 and the D doesn’t pressure you? Take your breakaway. But when you have a guy wide open for a breakaway and you proceed to try and toe-drag? Got a guy wide open on the back door and try a clapper off shin pads instead? That’ll make any coaches blood boil.

The puck travels faster than any player can skate. I don’t care if it’s Connor McDavid, Mackinnon, anyone. If your team is zipping the puck around blade to blade, it’s going to be much harder to defend than individual “dangles”.

Players Taking Forever Shifts

One minute. 60 seconds.

That is as long as any shift should be. If anyone disagrees – that’s cool. Skate back and forth from blue line to red line for 60 seconds at maximum exertion and see if you have any jam left in seconds 50 through 60. Then come back to me and we shall chat.

There are always circumstances where players get stuck out there for a long time and cannot change. I get that. But when a team starts a game with back-to-back 2 minute shifts, the 3rd unit is usually saying “F the gameplan I’m staying out longer too!”. Contagion!

If a player is out there moving his or her feet, giving or receiving bumps, competing, forechecking, and backchecking – in my opinion, there is no way players can stay on for 1:30+ all game long. Lets get some fresh legs out there and play fast!

Until Next Time