Behind the bench

By Michael Moore

I do hope that all of you are progressing through your season and your development continues to grow. As you continue on your journey as a hockey player, it is important to understand the value of initiative on and off the ice. Initiative is the willingness to take action and seize opportunities without being prompted or directed. It is a key trait that sets successful hockey players apart from the rest.

As a parent, you can help your child develop initiative by encouraging them to take on new challenges and responsibilities. Encourage them to try new things, even if they are unsure of how it will turn out. Remind them that it’s ok to make mistakes, and that’s how they will learn and improve.

For the players, I would recommend that you take the time to understand your role on the team, and actively look for ways to make a difference. Don’t be afraid to speak up and share your ideas with your coaches and teammates. Take the initiative to work on your skills and improve your game.

On the ice, initiative can mean taking control of the puck, making smart plays, and being a leader on your team. It is important to always be aware of your surroundings and to take advantage of opportunities as they arise. This can mean reading the play and anticipating where the puck is going, or it can mean recognizing when your team needs a spark and stepping up to provide it.

Off the ice, initiative can mean taking responsibility for your own development as a hockey player. This can mean seeking out extra ice time, working on your skills, and staying in shape during the off-season. It can also mean being a good teammate and a positive role model for others.

Initiative is not something that can be taught, it is something that must be developed within yourself. By embracing initiative, you will be able to achieve your goals and reach your full potential as a hockey player.

So, as you continue on your journey, remember that initiative is a crucial part of the game and that it will be the key to your success. Keep pushing yourself, stay positive, and always be looking for ways to improve.

Coach Littler understands this. He sent me this article on initiative for you to check out.


By Harvey Mackay, August 9th, 2021

Two sons worked for their father on the family’s farm. The younger brother had for some years been given more responsibilities and rewards, and one day the older brother asked his father to explain why.

The father said, “First, go to the Kellys’ farm and see if they have any chickens for sale. We need to add to our stock.”

The brother soon returned with the answer, “Yes they have five chickens they can sell to us.”

The father then said, “Good, please ask them the price.”

The son returned with the answer, “The chickens are $10 each.”

The father said, “Good, now ask if they can deliver the chickens tomorrow.”

And the son returned with the answer, “Yes, they can deliver them tomorrow.”

The father asked the older brother to wait and listen, and then called to the younger brother in a nearby field, “Go to the Davidsons’ farm and see if they have any chickens for sale. We need to add to our stock.”

The younger brother soon returned with the answer: “Yes, they have five chickens for $10 each, or 10 for $8 each, and they can deliver them tomorrow. I asked them to deliver the five unless they heard otherwise from us in the next hour. And I agreed that if we want the extra five chickens, we could buy them for $6 each.”

The father turned to the older son, who nodded his head in appreciation. He now realized why his brother was given more responsibilities and rewards.

The younger son showed responsibility, anticipation and negotiation skills. Bottom line, he showed initiative.

Top business leaders share a common trait: initiative. It is also one of the top attributes that employers look for. Words like self-starter and self-motivated are key in resumes.

Yet initiative is something they don’t teach you in business school. As my friend the late Jim Rohn said: “Formal education will make you a living. Self-education will make you a fortune.”

Learning to take initiative pays off in many ways. The first step is to do more than what is expected of you, as demonstrated by the younger brother. He anticipated his father’s questions and acted upon them. He was prepared.

Confidence is also a significant part of initiative. But confidence, like initiative, doesn’t come naturally to most people. Even the most successful people have struggled with confidence in their careers.

The good news is that you can develop confidence, just like any muscle or character trait, if you’re willing to work hard. Set small goals to build your confidence about achieving larger goals.

Confidence enables you to be proactive and inspire others to perform to the best of their abilities, without the fear of failure holding them back. You have to think like a winner.

Another aid in developing initiative is to create a team mindset. Unity consistently produces greater results than individual endeavors. Teamwork divides the effort and multiplies the effect. The boat won’t go if we all don’t row, so motivate your team members to do their very best.

Actively solicit feedback. The natural instinct for most people is to be defensive, but it’s essential to learn to love feedback. Everyone can learn something from others who have more experience. Rather than viewing feedback as judgment, consider looking at it as an opportunity to grow, learn and acquire a new skill. Be grateful for the suggestions.

It also never hurts to have a positive attitude. Thinking positive has no negative.

Finally, share ideas for improvement. If I give you a dollar and you give me a dollar, we each have a dollar. But if I give you an idea and you give me an idea, we each have two ideas. A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. Everyone benefits from sharing ideas with others.

The 2016 movie “Hidden Figures” told the compelling story of Dorothy Vaughan, a Black female mathematician who worked as a “human computer” for NASA during the 1960s. When NASA installed its first IBM mainframe computer, Dorothy feared she and her team would soon become redundant, but anticipated NASA’s need for a programming team. She taught herself the FORTRAN programming language, then taught it to her team, who became NASA’s programming team.

One of my favorite aphorisms goes like this: Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny.

Mackay’s Moral: Initiative is finishitive.


Speed differentials, heels, saving ice, and skating at players

Greg Revak, April 3, 2022

I wanted to expand on a tweet I sent last month, and this forum is an appropriate place to build out the concepts put forth.

Weaponizing Skating

Skating is obviously an important tool, but what are ways that we can go about weaponizing skating to beat opponents? Ultimately, this is the question I wanted to explore.

The first item would be to simply skate faster.

The second item would be to create a speed differential, either positive or negative, by creating space between the skater and their opponent.

Going beyond the first two ideas, there is trickery that can make opponents look like traffic cones: (1) Creating Heels and (2) Offensive Angling.

Creating Heels

If a player is standing flat-footed or if a player is skating backward, they are in a position to guard ice/space. At this point, the goal is to dislodge them from that space and encourage them to commit.

Getting them to commit first is the key. A great way to do that is to skate or fake one direction when you really want to go the other direction. Their body orientation and skate direction go one way and you go the other off of their heels. Here is an example from our piece, Playing off the heels.

In the above clip, Alex DeBrincat effectively turns the Dallas Stars’ defenders inside out with a simple weight shift to the boards (bonus points for putting the back quickly on his backhand for additional deception). The defender commits his heels/hips towards the boards, which allows for DeBrincat to cut back to the ice he always wanted to gain.

Offensive Angling

If a player is actively seeking to close your space and angle you to bad spots on the ice, they are attempting to take your ice/space. At this point, the goal is to keep your space and create or save ice that you can use.

When a player is angling they are dictating play, so it’s important to find ways to take back the initiative. A great way to do that is to skate directly at the player. Depending on the angles, you can give a small fake one direction. Here is an example from our piece, offensive angling.

What are some other ways we can weaponize skating to our advantage?

Arizona Players- check out this scholarship opportunity. If you have any interest in Cybersecurity this might be worth looking into.

Click here

College Hockey Inc. is accepting applications for the third annual College Hockey Inc. Scholarship, presented by JLG Architects. The grant is awarded in honor of JLG founder Lonnie Laffen, a passionate hockey supporter who passed away in 2020. 

Application link

Players and families, we want to hear from you. If there are any questions, concerns, or if you just want to have a conversation, please feel free to contact us directly. We want to hear from you. Good Luck and Great Hockey!

Thank you,

Team VHC