When The Thrill Is Gone?

The thrill is gone, It’s gone away for good.

BB King’s legendary song or a young hockey players passion and love for the game.

You decide.

Unfortunately when the thrill of playing the game is gone it maybe gone for good.

The thrill, the love or passion for the game, from a far it’s hard to determine if players these days actually love playing the game? They might say they do, but more and more scouts across the CHL and even the NHL are asking that question.

Do they really love the game?

Ok they are committed, they go to the gym, they put in the work, but do they love it, do they still get that thrill out of playing the game?

The real question that people should be asking is not why, but what happened to them to lose that passion.

Everyone falls in and out of love, but this is different.

The love for the game starts slipping away when one big element starts to be taken away.

The fun factor.

Trust me you can see it coming more than you think.

The first indicator of that aspect all starts with body language and boy oh boy can you ever tell when the player isn’t having fun anymore.

Whether they are tired of the process or tired of the message players that lose the enjoyment of playing the game are destined to start questioning their place within it.

As a former coach I always tried to keep the game fun, to promote and embrace the grind of the season, to focus on development and having fun at every turn. Obviously, losing games or having a losing season was extremely difficult, but we still tried to have fun. Hockey is suppose to be fun, sure it’s demanding, time consuming, costly, but it should be fun, it shouldn’t be always about the almighty W it should be about developing as a player and person.

If the game isn’t fun anymore, the passion and love will be gone, gone for good.

The almighty W always overshadows the big picture.

Systematic play can limit or even eliminate individual creativity which in my opinion dramatically affects young players passion and love for the game.

As a coach would I have done things differently, of course, but I can sleep at night knowing I tried my best and that I didn’t deviate from my philosophy.

There’s a big difference between suffocating player creativity, teaching systems or playing the right way.

Over the past few seasons since getting into the scouting world I’ve witnessed this on several occasions. Young Midget aged players playing scared because they don’t want to make a mistake. Skilled players handcuffed by team systems or players not given opportunities to experience situational play because they are deemed not that type of player and limiting ice time in a development role due to making mistakes, coaches providing zero feedback to players eager to learn and improve.

This in fact could be the perfect formula to essentially suck the fun out of the game and life out of a player.

Just put it this way I’ve seen a lot in travels in the game.

Is hockey too challenging for kids from this era?

Is hockey too specialized now with skill coaches and video reinforcement?

Is hockey a year a long endeavour which causes kids to lose their passion and get burnt out?

Is hockey the wrong sport for players and people that feel too entitled from this generation?

I don’t have all the answers, but I do know exactly what a player not having any fun looks like.

To be brutally honest it sucks, it’s disheartening, but more importantly the game of hockey loses.

How’s that for big picture?

The game loses a future player, it loses a future coach, it loses an ambassador.

Everyone loses when hockey players don’t have fun.

The thrill is gone

It’s gone away for good

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