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Cornered Coach: It's Not Always Great to skate

Sure, the Toth family is smiling here. But reaching this "Holiday on Ice" bliss took some real work.


Last week, I waxed poetic about the sights and sounds of outdoor shinny.  The rainbow of scattered NHL jerseys, the frozen puck echoing off the boards, excited laughter rising up to the stars...

But there was one sound I forgot about that isn't quite so romantic.

"Dad, I don't want to go skating!"

I have two lads with two distinct personalities. 8-year old Max, the little guy I coach on the Penguins, is the kind of kid who would be happy staying home all day playing video games and reading Harry Potter books. 6-year old Theo, on the other hand, is always holding a hockey stick and is ready to head out the door any time, any place.

To be honest, my original plan this season was to coach Theo's Tyke team. However, due to an organizational mix-up, I was assigned Max's Novice squad instead. But it's all working out great, as Theo's coach with the Rangers is fantastic and I'm having a ton of fun working with Max and the Penguins.

With that said, however, Max can sometimes be a real piece of work. Every Wednesday, we haul our two guys off to power skating lessons. It's not easy on the kids, as the ice time is right after school and getting there is always a big rush. But while Theo sits quietly in the back of the car chewing his granola bar, Max makes a big fuss each and every week.

"I don't want to go power skating," he wails. "I'm already a good skater."

Yeah, and Hitler did a good job promoting world peace.

To be kind, Max's skating needs some work. Theo isn't much better, but at least he's not delusional. All kidding aside, I do have sympathy for Max. He's not overly keen about sports, and while Theo loves hockey and wants to improve, Max is totally content with being part of a team and just playing for fun.

The truth is, power skating isn't always fun and public skating or playing shinny on an outdoor rink also had its disadvantages. For one thing...Baby, it's cold outside. It can also get a little boring going 'round and 'round in circles at those Sunday public skating sessions.

Fortunately, though, there are a few strategies a parent can employ when that anti-skating child really starts to get on your nerves.

A power skating power play we've found to be effective with Max is to threaten to give all his lessons away to Theo. Basic rug rat greed is such that if you take a cup away from one kid and give it to the other, they'll want it back even if it tastes completely awful.

Unfortunately, when it comes to activity on the outdoor rink, bribery is one of a parent's few options. We hit the local public skating trail on Sunday and it was amazing to hear the deals being cut all over the ice.

"Just one more lap and I'll take you to Tim Hortons!'

"If you skate for five more minutes, we'll order pizza!"

In our case, a Happy Meal always does the trick. 

So the glowing faces you see in the photo at the top of this blog?

You can definitely give an assist, in Max's case, to our buddies at McDonald's.

And next week, I'll outline some of the challenges Max presents for a certain coach of the mighty Penguins.


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