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From the Press Box: What to expect this season

 

What will this season bring? I am very excited to get the season going. My rec team is four games into our season and we’ve started off much better than in the past few years. A modest 2-1-1 record has us all giddy with possibilities of winning our division (ok, we are in division 13, but hey, there are 20 divisions). My personal hockey pool has a deadline of September 24 to protect eight players from last year’s roster and our draft is Saturday, October 4. It’s a day that is blocked off on the calendar weeks in advance.

One of our main goals at HockeyNow when we did our rebrand that launched August 27, 2013 was to create engaging, compelling content on all our platforms—print, digital, social, etc. I think we got off to a great start by having a cover story every issue that tackled issues and topics that parents of minor hockey players, recruiters of junior and college players and fans at large could relate to and, even more importantly, possibly learn from or at least use the information to create discussions in their own part of the hockey world.

This season we are geared up to bring you another series of cover stories that we are very invested in. This issue features volunteers that have been involved in our game for a while. The  fabric of our game relies on many things, but one very crucial piece of the puzzle is volunteers. You could ask any NHLer, any Junior star, any player that has gone on to a career in the NCAA and they would all say that some of the most important people in their career were their parents and the volunteers in the association that they grew up in.

In the last issue, we tackled the whole concept of development. We talked to some very key people from Ron Robison, the commissioner of the Western Hockey League, to Marty Savoy, the commissioner of the OJHL. The main takeaway was where the development model is at and a look at how many things have changed over the years.

Coming down the pipe this year in no particular order are the following:

We are going to investigate the impact of the body checking rule change that came into place last year. It was a huge shift and the jury is out on what it means for injuries, safety, concussions, and how players will be ready for the next level (versus players from areas in the world who have hitting implemented earlier). This one intrigues me big time. I am a bit on the fence and don’t claim to be an expert. So I am a sponge waiting to take in the opinion and data from experts.

We’ll look at the change and improvement in most areas of the CIS hockey level. The CHL has made huge strides and efforts to improve their scholarship program and the results are starting to be seen in top-shelf former CHL players coming back to play in the CIS and get their education taken care of.

We will do a super fun and informative preview of the WJC. There has been a lot of hand wringing lately over Canada’s lack of gold. Never mind the run on medals. I love this time of year and can’t wait to see how Canada’s best stacks up.

We have ramped up a regular two-page piece on female hockey in every print issue and one cover story this year will tackle the state of the game from the female perspective.

Advanced stats are all the rage and we are going to look into how this will affect minor and junior hockey and their players in terms of development, recruitment and drafting improvement—and just as importantly, how coaches and general managers use it to assess talent.

We will explore the focus on nutrition, training and all the meticulous nuances that are part of today’s elite player and how that can help them get to the next level.

We will also have a world class Memorial Cup preview and our NHL Draft preview in partnership with ISS.

We are extremely pumped about this season. We hope you are too. Enjoy your games and the game.

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