Razor With an Edge: Scoring School

Wednesday, 01.22.2014 / 3:01 PM CT / Razor With An Edge
By Daryl "Razor" Reaugh
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Razor With an Edge: Scoring School

“Take a person fishing and he’ll eat for one day. Teach a person how to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.”

“Fish or cut bait.”

“A cat likes to eat fresh fish but does not want to go into the water.”

So what do fishing metaphors have to do with hockey? Well, indulge me here. I think hockey needs goal scoring coaches – it needs to teach more players “how to fish.”

Currently, the most individually (and over) coached position in our sport is goaltending. Every team employs a goalie coach; some keep two on staff in an effort to service their minor league team and prospects.

Personally, I think the proliferation and omnipresence of goalie coaches borders on fanatical coddling, but the proof of their value is in the performance. This season the average save percentage in the NHL is the highest it’s ever been - and that’s with this so- called “war on goaltending equipment size” in full swing.

On the other side of the puck, shooters are put through drills and they blast away with custom made $250 composite sticks at the end of formal practice, yet there is very little individualized “scoring coaching.” It just seems the guys with the whistles are resigned to the fact that there are bigger picture issues (i.e. preventing goals against, systems, players bitching about ice-time, their sanity, etc.) and there are just too many players to have one-on-one “scoring” time with them all. Kind of like a school teacher with a 40-student classroom.

Another factor might be the coaching fraternity’s expertise. 100 percent of goalie coaches were goaltenders when they played (duh), yet the majority of head coaches were far from elite offensive players. Those that were (Wayne Gretzky and Denis Savard for instance) never seem to excel. So in a way, having, say, a former stay at home defenseman with a couple former fourth line forwards as assistants trying to squeeze more offense out of guys would be akin to having Brett Hull as your goalie coach.

I applaud guys like Lindy Ruff, who encourages players to be creative and make plays, or Lightning-era John Tortorella who’s “Safe is Death” mantra was revolutionary in a ‘dead puck’ era. But even with them it’s a team philosophy not individual tutoring. There just aren’t enough hours in the day for consistent individual teaching. And sure they can tell the individual to “go to the net” or “get his nose dirty” or “hit the net” but that’s as targeted as telling the netminder to “square to the shot” or “play big.”

Of course the other long believed truth about goal scorers is that they are born not made - a player either has a knack for putting the puck in the net, or doesn’t. Really? Maybe. But then how is it that 3rd string goalies are playing at starter levels this season? Coaching? Maybe?

How do other sports approach offense? Do they just acquire good offensive players, round ‘em up and point ‘em in a direction like Dolly Parton’s bra? No, other sports have specialized coaching for offensive positions: Baseball – Hitting coaches. Football – Quarterbacks, running backs and receivers coaches. So, why not hockey? Why doesn’t every NHL team have a Scoring Swami? Why?

One day they all probably will. One day.

In the meantime, maybe I’ll talk to Hull, Bossy, Gretzky, Orr, Coffey, Lemieux, Lafleur and Espo about publishing one of those “Scoring for Dummies” books. Considering the void, it might be a best seller.

SCHEDULE

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AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 58 36 18 4 160 134 76
2 DAL 55 35 15 5 178 147 75
3 STL 57 31 17 9 138 133 71
4 LAK 54 33 18 3 151 128 69
5 COL 58 29 25 4 155 160 62
6 SJS 53 28 20 5 154 143 61
7 ANA 53 26 19 8 120 125 60
8 NSH 55 25 21 9 142 148 59
9 ARI 54 25 23 6 143 164 56
10 VAN 54 22 20 12 125 144 56
11 MIN 55 23 22 10 135 138 56
12 CGY 54 25 26 3 144 160 53
13 WPG 54 24 27 3 139 157 51
14 EDM 56 22 29 5 138 168 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
J. Benn 55 28 34 16 62
T. Seguin 55 28 32 11 60
J. Klingberg 55 10 36 14 46
J. Spezza 52 18 22 5 40
P. Sharp 55 16 24 -2 40
A. Goligoski 55 4 20 16 24
C. Eakin 55 10 13 0 23
M. Janmark 55 10 10 14 20
J. Demers 48 7 12 16 19
V. Nichushkin 52 6 13 7 19
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
A. Niemi 20 10 5 .908 2.52
K. Lehtonen 15 5 0 .912 2.79
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