Tell me about your prep for this camp and how it may have differed from Minor Hockey camp prep?
I want to use this camp to set the foundation of the culture we are going to be working towards. There is a core of veteran players that have been a part of this organization and had success over the past 2 regular seasons, I want to build off that while introducing my philosophies. Having spoken with these veterans over the summer, they seem eager to take the next step with this team and are excited to get started. This familiarity within a roster is not something that I have often found coaching minor hockey, it allows us the potential to move through concepts and systems more quickly as we prepare for the regular season. There is going to be some fluidity within our depth chart throughout camp, probably a bit more than I have experienced in the past, as players may choose to pursue other Junior opportunities first. I need to remain flexible, open minded, and focused on my goal of putting together a competitive roster that fits within our culture.
Tell me about the type of player(s) you're looking for?
Here is my definition of a Thunder player and the characteristics I want to see on our roster;
A Thunder player is eager to compete. He has a strong work ethic both on and off the ice, and an attitude that puts team success above all else. It is unacceptable for him to be merely willing to battle in the corners, take a hit to make a play, finish checks, back check relentlessly, and block shots. Instead, he must be eager to compete in all of these areas. A Thunder Player respects the game of hockey and the people around him. This includes not just officials, team staff, his teammates, and his opponents, but anyone he comes in contact with (such as fans, and arena attendants). He always plays with the highest level of confidence, and he is diligent in his physical and mental preparation so that confident play is not just a hope, but a certainty. A Thunder Player is quick and agile, and his size is determined not by a tape measure, but by his competitiveness, physical maturity (width, depth, balance) and courage. He has strong playmaking abilities, is a consistent and effective communicator, and is able to make quick decisions and take appropriate actions while under pressure. He is proactive, not reactive, in his play, and he is unflinching in the face of adversity. Most importantly, though, he wears the Thunder logo with the unique, unfailing pride which only he and his teammates share, and he trusts those teammates to do the same.
What kind of direction do you envision for the team?
This season is going to be about a commitment to the process. I will be introducing new concepts, philosophies, and systems - progression is the key. Everyone (players, coaches, management) is going to be focused on developing into the team we want to be when playoffs start. We will manage the ebbs and flows of the season, stay patient, and remain focused on all of the details that will determine success.
What's important for players to know coming into your camp?
Players need to come to camp prepared to show the coaching staff what sets them apart and what unique roll they feel they can play to contribute to the overall success of the team. Think about and understand the type of player you are, showcase those skills with a strong attention to detail. Listen to feedback, ask questions, be positive, be professional, and have fun!