Minnesota is blessed with so many great coaches that are strong role models for youth and high school coaches. The two most visible are Don Lucia from Minnesota and Mike Yeo from the Wild. Both Don and Mike recognize that in order to win it first takes top end talent and then hard work. It was not too long ago that they both were being criticized for their team's performance, and now, both teams are at the top of their leagues.
Did Don and Mike do anything differently? No. they stayed with their plan, coached their teams and worked hard to mold their groups into winners.
I have often remarked that during games getting the right players on the ice at the right time and in the right combinations is the primary job of the upper level coach. This is not as easy as it sounds. All coaches are always looking to improve their line combinations to improve performance. Player injuries, sickness, and fatigue all contribute to decisions that coaches make regarding ice time and special teams assignments. Mike and Don, along with their terrific staffs have done a great job this season getting their teams to play at the top of their respective leagues.
Youth and high school coaches have a different task at hand as they develop their players through their youth and high school years where winning is only one of the objectives, and not even the most important one.
The take away for youth coaches is that it is important to coach the team you have not the one you wish you had. You are teaching many things to young people that Mike and Don are not necessarily as concerned with (they have other issues to deal with). Don and Mike have stuck to their guns and worked hard to mold their players into a team. Now, it is up to the players to preform.
Good luck to the Wild as they race towards the playoffs and to Don Lucia in their quest to return to the Frozen Four. I also want to recognize the other D1 coaches in the state as they also compete in the NCAA toournament beginning tomorrow. Upsets happen, so stay tuned!
Every day is a great day for hockey in Minnesota!