Saturday, September 20, 2008

USA Hockey Symposium

I attended USA Hockey's "American Development Model" on Friday night, because my personal life is just that exciting. NTDP U-17 assistant and former Yale head coach Tim Taylor gave a Powerpoint presentation describing USA hockey's views on developing players. I took down some notes on what he had to say.

He started out talking about the NTDP program a little bit. He said USA Hockey's goals for the NTDP were the following: 1. Have the NTDP trickle down to other areas of USA Hockey. 2. Have alumni go on to make an impact in college and the NHL and 3. Instill a sense of pride in wearing the USA jersey.

I thought the first point was particularly interesting. One of the big complaints about the NTDP program is that so many resources go to so few players and it doesn't do much for everybody else. Taylor never really explained how the NTDP team's success trickles down to other areas of USA Hockey, and I'm not sure that it does.

After that, more description on some of the basics of the program: Housing, academics, training, and schedule. And then a slide full of stats from top players who have moved on to college and the NHL.

The next section was on "The Path to Success" with some common building blocks to athlete's success. Those were:
-Be coachable
-Focus on the process
-Training and athleticism--Play other sports, train fast, off-ice skill development
-Hockey sense
-Be prepared
-Be selfless
-Be energy wise
-Be accountable
-Be an American for life

The next section went about defining what Taylor called "The Process". He emphasized that there is no "right" path or "perfect" timeline in terms of player development. He advised that players should never burn bridges and keep every option open. He said that player's shouldn't give up their NCAA eligibility unless they are absolutely 100% certain that they don't want to go to college, since the average pro hockey career is over at age 27 and there is a lot of life after that.

After that, he stressed "staying within the system" and not getting frustrated if you get passed over for a national camp or national team. He also went over "being an American for life" and always taking the opportunity to wear a Team USA jersey if given the opportunity.

That part is probably particularly poignant this year. Last summer, a number of players passed on opportunities to play for the NTDP, but with a very deep birth year, it was no huge deal. There were more than enough good players and they've put together a pretty nice team. The talent pool among the '93s, however, looks much shallower, and they'll probably need every good player they can find to be on the NTDP next year.

And finally, he focused on some things that he felt weren't important for players to worry about. Those included:

-Playing hockey year-round
-Agents and exposure camps
-"Entitlement culture"
-Draft lists and rankings-He mentioned players deciding to switch teams based on where they were ranked on the Red Line Report
-Personal trainers

Obviously the agents and entitlement culture have been problems for the NTDP program in the past. Overall, not terrible advice, though I'd probably disagree with lumping all agents into the bad category.

The key points to take away from the lecture was about following the path, and staying within the USA Hockey system. Pretty much what you'd expect from USA Hockey, and the merits of which can be debated. It definitely was more pro-NCAA, as you'd expect, but at least recognized that there were other options out there if that's a better fit for players.


Anonymous said...

Tim Taylor,there is nothing like an old white guy from the ivy league to rally the masses. Was Moses unavailable?

444 said...

If the USNDT decided to have a satelite team in Minnesota somewhere many kids from this area would probably sign up and play for the US team. Since, it is not like that most Minnesota kids would just as soon play for their area high school team or play on the weekends in a USHL town.

Anonymous said...

I for one am glad that you attended this session and reported on what Taylor had to say. I believe that the problem with USA hockey's development system is that it gives a huge advantage to a small group of kids, savvy parents know this and do what ever they can to "build their child's resume" by getting them placed on "select" teams at specific points in their development. "Elite" players are identified too early and it puts others at a disadvantage often discouraging players and shrinking the talent pool.

Anonymous said...

If USA wants a trickle down effect, then why not have two or three teams per birth year? Make it a little more regional? Charge the parents to help fund it. Most would surely pay for that program than the money they might be spending on a MM team. You can eliminate the Minnesota people - they don't need USA Hockey. Look at hwo many turned down the program...HS Minnesota hockey is the best, just ask them...

Anonymous said...

Mr. Taylor is one of the most respected hockey minds in the USA.
He also is a teacher with a wealth of knowledge. I would say he represented the whole of USA hockey, which does not soley reside in Gopher land. Did you not listen to the teacher(9:55) and get schooled at a younger age?
There are plenty of high caliber players and parents who respect USA hockey and it's development goals.

Anonymous said...

444, do you realize that most people think you're a stroke?

Anonymous said...

rumor has it that nick pryor will not be going to wisconsin because he is not able to get into school there and im sure he is looking elsewhere in the wcha right now

Anonymous said...

The comment about having two teams is an intelligent one (but it couldn't be a Minnesota only team). I'm a chicago guy so I have no loyalty or preference to either powerhouse state, Minnesota or Michigan. If you divided them based on regions, you then have two more or less equal teams; and neither team can claim it's the A team (the same thing Canada does for u-17 and other tournaments). The problem would come from Minnesota High School Hockey association/group; my guess is they would probably block efforts based on loss of prestige. Ten years ago, the depth might not have been there, but if you look at the current 18s and the ones that went to Hlinka, there's probably enough talent for each team to compete at the junior level. However, not fully funding them makes no sense; you have to take wealth factor out of development equation if you want the best players.

Anonymous said...

Will Eaves' new way to solve his over-recruitment be to tell kids they can't get them in academically. No need not to over-recruit just turn them away at the door and say it was an educational decision. With the players who he has gotten in academically if Prior doesn't it will be something!!!

Anonymous said...

Eaves already did it to Garret Suter when he decided he wasn't good enough to play for him...Its not a new method, its something he has practiced before

Chuck Schwartz said...

The rumor on Pryor is true, and it has nothing to do with Eaves.

And like Almington said on USCHO, "An over-recruitment angle doesn't make any sense since UW could be in NEED of Dman after this season since they only have Pryor and Schultz lined up and will lose at least McBain and likely at LEAST one of the other Dmen if not 2."

As for Garrett Suter, he not only wasn't smart enough to go to UW, he wasn't good enough to play D-1 hockey. He's an above average D-3 player at Point. He was as much of a legacy recruit as there has ever been.

Anonymous said...

So is the US NTDP taking any responibility for educating these players as well as developing them as hockey players. There have been questions for years about kids going there and not being able to get into college. However, BC was able to work with Gerbe to make him eligible seems like Wisconsin if they wanted Prior they could get it done in a year.

Anonymous said...

Think something is terribly wrong here. Is the NTDP not making sure these kids are ready academically? Also, he could take the ACT over and work to get an acceptable grade. Has Biddy raised the bar and making the athletes academically accountable or is it that the coaching staff has taken a dislike to the kids play and aren't willing to work with him? Lots of questions and the truth will be most likely be kept hush hush.
Wisconsin has been in the news a lot this off-season and none of it is good. The Bearson release, the Wiercoch decommit, the commit to an 8th grader, Howie leaving, Erstad going D3, and now them losing Prior. What is going on? Most of these players were NHL picks too, something seems off.

Anonymous said...

I am certain that Tim Taylor is a good guy, very knowledgeable about hockey, and well intentioned but he is towing the USA Hockey company line and much of what he states rings hollow. I especially take issue with "the process". As 6:12 noted, the politics behind this "process" would make a Chicago politician blush. No "right path" or "perfect timeline"? Please. Your fate is decided at age 14-15. This is why the District Camps and the competition to get on the Select Teams is so politically charged.

Anonymous said...

9:56 AM was dead on.
I am not impressed with USA hockey's talent assessement. There were two 16 year old players (still) at the select 17 who make the rosters of OHL teams but are NOT picked to play on the second team Ivan Hlinka squad. Something is funky and political or they have what one might call an interesting opinion. Could it be that the OHL doesn't know who can play....? :) Nah.
BTW, you are right,One of those kids was mine. :)
He loves the "O" though. Thanks NTDP you made the decision on the "right path" for him.