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Time to Make Some Friends and Possibly Some Enemies

April 30, 2011
by JRiddall

The top (AA) team’s tryouts have concluded. And so, tomorrow night I begin the unenviable task of selecting a team of my own. I anticipate having to whittle a starting group of 50+ players down to 17 over three skates encompassing a combined period of 2 1/2 hours – hardly seems like enough time, but it is what it is.  I need to build a team of deserving athletes who I feel I and my to-be-chosen staff will be able to work with and develop both individually and as a team over a six-plus month hockey season.

I know already this will not be an easy or enjoyable task, particularly when it comes to deciding the final few players who will no doubt only differ by the slimmest of margins in my gut. I will rely heavily on the combined observations and opinions of six people I trust to help me make informed and objective decisions. I’ve chosen six unaffiliated evaluators to ensure bias is eliminated from the selections. I will also leverage the copious notes I obtained through attending the previous team’s whittling process as many of those players will filter down to my tryouts. But no matter which way I slice it, emotion will come into play – the players’ and mine. Some feelings will be hurt. I know, because as a hockey dad, I’ve been on the other side many times.  I’ve felt my kid was “unjustly” cut from a team from an undoubtedly biased perspective.  I’ve stood next to my kid as they received their news; felt their dejection.  I may have to release a player or two that I know personally.  In fact, after five plus years of the Devil playing hockey in this town, it’s pretty much a certainty.

Someone asked me the other day if I’m nervous yet. I replied “If I’m not nervous, it doesn’t matter enough to me” which has generally been my approach going into presentations at work.  So I’ll spend the next week resisting the urge to re-adopt my nail biting habit.  I will no doubt have a couple of sleepless nights. In the end, we all know it’s just a game; we all get that someone has to be chosen and someone else will be released, but that doesn’t make it any easier – on either of us.  Other coaches I’ve talked to say this is the worst week of the year and I guess I’m about to find out.  I just hope I’m able to make fair cuts that leave minimal scars. 

#imahockeycoach and #imahockeydad

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