A passion for the game

Ryan Cooke
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Coaches talk about their experiences in hockey during all-day coaching clinic in Summerside

Ottawa Senators head coach Paul MacLean delivers the keynote speech Friday during the Hockey Atlantic Coaches Clinic in Summerside.

SUMMERSIDE — Paul MacLean stood at the back of the room following his speech to a full audience.

The Jack Adams Award winning coach swapped stories with his fellow peers, including former Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Doug MacLean and Montreal Canadiens assistant coach, Gerard Gallant.

Despite being only months removed from a heated NHL playoff series which saw MacLean’s Ottawa Senators down Gallant’s Canadiens in five games, the two joked about the year they spent together as teammates, playing on a line with Hall-of-Famer Steve Yzerman.

“They always show that clip on TV, hey? The one where Stevie circles around and dekes out the entire Blackhawks team about five times,” MacLean laughs, speaking of a famous clip from the 1989 season in which Yzerman made minced meat of the entire Blackhawks team before roofing a shot on goaltender Jimmy Waite.

“Yeah, what you don’t see in that clip is me and you standing there to the side, tapping our sticks on the ice,” Gallant said.

MacLean smiles, his bushy moustache pulling to the sides.

“At one point I think I leaned on the post and said ‘How are you doing tonight, Jimmy?’”

MacLean was in Summerside on Friday as a part of the one-day Hockey Canada Coaches Clinic  at Credit Union Place.

The day featured presentations from Binghamton Senators’ head coach Luke Richardson, Ottawa assistant coach Dave Cameron and University of New Brunswick coach Gardiner MacDougall. A panel discussion, moderated by George Matthews, featured the aforementioned three, as well as Gallant, MacLean and Doug MacLean.

Following Paul MacLean’s keynote speech, the crowd peppered the NHL’s top coach with questions. He was asked everything from what to do with struggling kids to who the best player he ever coached was.

“Nicklas Lidstrom. Hands down,” he answered to the latter question, referring to the Detroit Red Wings longtime franchise defenseman, whom he coached while serving as an assistant to Mike Babcock.

“It’s actually boring when you’re that good.”

In a room filled with more than 50 coaches, Charlottetown Islanders head coach Gordie Dwyer sat attentively at the front, scribbling notes on a notepad as MacLean and Richardson spoke.

Passion. It’s the middle of July and we’re all sitting in a room talking about hockey. That passion for the game is a key to success. Gord Dwyer, head coach of the Charlottetown Islanders

With so many peers in the room, it was a great opportunity to bounce ideas around, Dwyer said.

“I think that’s what coaching is all about — stealing other guys ideas and bringing different plans to your team to give players the best chance to develop.”

Looking around, Dwyer said it was clear what the common denominator amongst the coaches was.

“Passion. It’s the middle of July and we’re all sitting in a room talking about hockey. That passion for the game is a key to success.”

For Paul MacLean, the clinic was a chance to share some of his knowledge with a region he grew up in.

Born in France, MacLean moved to Antigonish, N.S., when he was a toddler.

“I think it’s really important as a Nova Scotian and a Maritime guy to give back,” he said. “These types of things, we didn’t have them when I was trying to learn how to be a coach in the Maritime Provinces.

“If anyone is going to have a clinic like this here, I want to be a part of it.”

People came from all over the Maritimes to take in the presentations, including Shayne Trewin, coach of the IP Halifax Hawks.

“We saw the names that were going to be involved with this, and that’s why we got on board,” he said.

Trewin marked down drills and plays in his notebook all morning, filling up on information to bring home to his team.

“There’s been some great anecdotes and some great drills. These guys have been around,” he said. “We’re just minor hockey coaches, so some of these simpler ones are great to use during our practices.”

MacLean offered advice to anyone who asked questions, but he also had a message for everyone to follow.

“Be yourself. Don’t try to be Mike Babcock. Don’t try to be Paul MacLean. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, because the players know.”

Organizations: NHL, Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens Ottawa Senators Hall-of-Famer Steve Yzerman Hockey Canada Coaches Clinic Credit Union Place.The Dave Cameron and University of New Brunswick Detroit Red Wings

Geographic location: Summerside, Ottawa, France Antigonish Maritime Provinces

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