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From the Press Box: Coach of the Year

That label has a pretty cool ring to it, eh? I was coach of the year once. It was in 2006-07. Keep in mind that the honours came from a relatively small association and it was only Midget house and I have no idea who voted or what the criteria was, but I got the plaque.

It got me thinking of that year when HockeyNow teamed up with the Hockey Coaches Conference to give away a “Coach of the Year” prize this June.

The whole minor hockey system in Canada is an amazing machine and a phenomenal cross section of our culture. Sure, there are some issues that always come up and whenever something bad happens that is when the mass media give minor hockey coverage, but there is so much good in minor hockey that involves thousands of Canadians coast to coast.

And minor hockey would not exist without coaches. The entire system revolves around them and that is why the Coach of the Year is an amazing label and it’s why we developed this contest—it’s our way of continuing our mandate to help promote, support and grow the game.

We’ve kept the contest simple. It’s really for players, parents and anyone involved with a team or association to nominate a coach at any level that has gone above and beyond the call. The beauty of this contest is that there are no limits. Nominees can be nominated as many times as their supporters like and the voters can vote for as many coaches as many times as they want. It’s really a great chance to give some recognition to coaches anywhere that likely don’t get a lot of notice.

Coaches can be nominated on our site at hockeynow.ca/contests. Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook and sign up to our weekly newsletter to get updates on the contest.

Memorial Cup 2014. It’s game time.
We’re so pumped about this year’s Memorial Cup in London, Ont. The last time the Memorial Cup was in London, I had an unreal opportunity to take a tour of the John Labatt Centre (now called the Budweiser Gardens). I was amazed at the list of top shelf players that went through the London system. You should look it up—it’s really a who’s who of the hockey world. The thing that stuck with me is that each stall in the Knights’ locker room has a plaque on it of all the famous players that used each specific stall. Can you imagine being a 16-year-old kid showing up for tryouts and sitting down in a stall with Shanahan, Ciccarelli, or Tavares engraved on the plaque?

What a wild ride all three leagues went on to determine the four teams headed for this year’s Memorial Cup. London is the host and lost in the OHL playoffs. My thought is that they probably didn’t mind losing and the 35 days of practice and healing up likely won’t hurt them. Edmonton/Portland got pushed to Game 7 in the WHL finals and they are loaded with talent and experience. Guelph won the OHL championship in huge style—when was the last time you saw a 10-1 score in a league championship? Aside from that, you have to feel great for North Bay after losing their team several years back. As of this writing, the Quebec league final was going to Game 7. Suffice it to say, what we have for this year’s Memorial Cup is some top-end talent, experience and depth, along with teams that got pushed to Game 7’s, all hosted by a very formidable and rested Knights’ team. And to bring it back to our Coach of the Year contest, none of these teams would have been here without the top shelf coaching by four of this league’s best.

This will be very fun to watch. When you do, don’t forget to look up the history of the Memorial Cup. It all started back in 1919 and went through many format changes, but it was originally created and sponsored by the Ontario Hockey Association to honour Canadians who fought in WWI. Now that is something to play hard for. 

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