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Make Where You're Playing the BIG Time

By Hal Tearse, 07/19/18, 2:45PM CDT


After the Vegas Golden Knights went on a historic run to the Stanley Cup Final in their first year, with an expansion draft roster, it seems like a good time to reflect on what elements are needed for success. 

Everybody wants to be on a winning team. Who wouldn’t after all?  In fact, this desire motivates many youth and high school players and their families to continuously seek a new program and coach that “recognizes their amazing talents."

Changing youth programs, high school programs, junior teams, Western Hockey League, OHL, USHL, EJHL, etc. etc. is not the answer. The answer is obvious as penned by Jack Blatherwick many years ago, 

“Make Where You are Playing the Big Time”

According to Minnesota Hockey, the final stats for 2017-18 NHL season are the following:

  • 57 Minnesotans played in the NHL in 2017-18 (believed to be a record for any state)
  • Michigan had 37, New York had 32 and Massachusetts had 25
  • 53 of these players played high school hockey (Byfuglien, Parise, Stepan and Okposo were the only non-high school players).
  • These 53 players played at 35 different high schools.  No single high school has more than 3 players represented.

The community/high school model here in Minnesota is not perfect,  and it can be improved. The same may be true of the program you're currently playing in.


The NHL statistics above show this model is far better than the AAA/junior model in the rest of the United States at producing elite players. 

Playing on a winning team is not synonymous with playing at the next level. Being a great player with skills, proper motivation, attitude and character might get you a chance at the next level. 

Changing programs every few years is disruptive to development and could be contrary to what coaches at the next level are looking for. 

In hockey and life, people who are always looking towards the next big deal steal from themselves and their teams. They are never fully committed and therefore never making a 100% effort.

Instead of looking for an exit strategy, the player should recommit to the team and give 100% effort during games, practices, and off ice training. Anything less is a shift of responsibility for outcomes to others.  

We tell our players to be present when they are at hockey. Leave the rest of the world behind and be fully committed to being the best player and teammate they can be every day. Anything less is on ”the road to nowhere.”

NHL scouts and college coaches all echo the same advice: If you can play we will find you. 

If that is the case (and it is) then spend time improving skills, game understanding, and how to be the best player and teammate you can be. 

A great motto to remember; “If it is going to be, it is up to me”. 

Be Present and enjoy hockey and life. 

- Hal Tearse
Veteran High School, Junior, College and Minnesota Hockey Coach

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