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Daily Dish: Parental Interference Junior Hockey News

Published: Monday, 16 Sep 2019  
By: Stephen Heisler,

Imagine being an 18-year-old rookie in the Canadian Junior Hockey League and having dad tell your now former advisor that you are done, because the coach expects you to be a bit more defensively responsible.

That conversation was the low-light of an otherwise decent weekend of fun and festivities.

Here’s the text conversation with super dad, almost word-for-word. It’s such a crazy conversation that it could not even have been imagined.

Dad: Son is done unless he plays British Columbia Hockey League, North American Hockey League, or NCDC. 
Dad: He is asking for his full release tomorrow. If no BCHL, NAHL, or NCDC he is done with hockey and will go to college. 
Dad: That’s the short version.

Me: Wow, I’ll cancel your renewal if that’s it.

Dad: Ask Bliss (Littler) to give him 30 days in Wenatchee. If he can’t cut it then its over. So says he’s not risking his brain to play D.

Me: For the Wild or AAA?

Dad: Coach told him he’s top six but wants him to sacrifice to solidify a line. Nope.
Dad: Tier II or nothing.
Dad: He’s ready – you should see him now. Playing great, worked his (butt) off the past month in camp. But NOT playing D.

Me: We’ve done everything possible and you put him into unrealistic expectations. “Tier II or nothing” and he retires as a 2001? That will hang over his head for the rest of his life.

Dad: I asked him to go back to AAA, he said no.

Me: Get him to an NA3HL team and he gets opportunities with NAHL teams. You elected to skip Great Western and a NAHL main camp in your own back yard.
Me: Go to a 3HL team and put up points.

Dad: He’s not playing T3. He wants T2 or he’s done. That’s not me, that’s not you, its him.
Dad: He’s outworked every player I know this summer and was the top dog at his gym. That dude trains 69 D1, T1, T2, and pro players.
Dad: So, no BS about “putting in the work” or “commitment.”
Dad: Thank you for all your help and support over the past year. Son is done, he doesn’t have the desire to continue. I wish you and your family the best in the futures! Life goes on and college awaits.
Dad: My life probably wont my wife is going to kill me for wasting all this money on hockey, lol.

Me: You need to leave your son alone. I’m done with this situation and feel you have side-stepped and retarded his development with so much baloney. Good luck in the future.

Dad: No problem. Good luck to you.

All this after a frantic call from dad the week before demanding that I get his son a Division 1 commitment right now; because the kid has all the intangibles like grades, money, and “pedigree” from playing at some private catholic hockey school and one to those big name AAA programs in Detroit?

“Do you really think that your son has the numbers to generate NCAA Division interest,” I asked last week. “He’s better than a lot of those 16u players that are already getting commitments,” dad argued. “Really, how many offers have been presented so far,” I asked. Crickets.

The reality is that the son is a decent hockey player that just needs to round out his game. He was not asked to play defense, according to the team’s head coach. He was asked to play with more defensive responsibility. There’s a big difference.

Was it a big ask by the coach? I don’t think so and it’s not like this kid has been lighting the lamp in training camp either. He’s one of those players with a great skill set and a loudmouth dad that can’t keep his mouth shut. Dad talks to the coaches, and anybody else that listens, about how great the kid is. Unfortunately, the kid has big ears and can’t filter out the mental interference from dad.

Until he does, this very well could be the end of a career. I can promise this, if he does hang ‘em up, he’s going to blame dad for the rest of his life.  That’s going to make the holiday get togethers a bit awkward for decades to come.

Unfulfilled expectations happen with prospects can’t see the reality of their current situations. All too often it’s the parents that are interfering with the natural development of their children. Folks, step back and let the kids play. Like water, talent will find its way. Parents that are over-the-top with interference and direction, will put their prospects into uncomfortable situations.

Parents that keep telling the player that they must move to another team, for one reason or another, are taking one of the most important words completely out of the equation; commitment. Remove the “Mommy and daddy will rescue me” from the picture and watch how fast the prospect will adapt. That commitment word means a lot to coaches at the next level and college. 

Bottom line, once a player reaches age 16, it’s time for them to talk for themselves. The player in this situation came up with several excuses when asked why he failed to mention the misconception during the meeting with the coach. If he had, we would not be in the situation he is in today. Aside from losing us, he’s also lost some of the confidence the coach had in him. 

So, what is the kid doing now? I don't know, it's no longer my problem to worry about. Good luck with that dad, kid is going to need it. 

Author: Stephen Heisler from
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with Victorious Hockey Company. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.

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