"I don't know about your boy there Heisler," the veteran North American Hockey League coach said during one of the league's main camps earlier this year. "His body language and attitude is just horrible." That should have been the red flag that told me this one was going to be a problem.
After the player was passed over by that team, the parent convinced me it was because of the import situation and that we should get the young man into a British Columbia Hockey League main camp. When the BCHL team let the Ontario superstar off the advancing roster after the first round of cuts, the parent was convinced that the team already knew who they wanted and was just wasting everyone else's time.
Other opportunities within the Canada Junior Hockey League presented themselves. "No, we don't want him there, that's in the middle of nowhere," the father said of one opportunity. "No, we don't want to drive all the way over there just for a showcase event," the dad said about another.
"I can get you a solid shot with the NAHL team you skated for at main camp, go to their 3HL affiliate and show us something," I said to the player. "If that level is far below your skill set, you should skate through like a hot knife into a stick of butter."
Nine games into the season and the superstar's four points are less than impressive. "This is horrible hockey, it's equal to Canadian Junior D," the dad screams into my voicemail box. "It's horse#@!& on the ice and horse#@!& off the ice." This after the team owner pays for flights, hotels, and meals for the weekend. Tell me, how many Canadian junior teams get taken care of like that?
"He ain't playing this weekend," the dad screamed into my voicemail. "Get him traded now or else!" Instead of vetting the players, we should be doing that for parents. This poor kid should have been a goalie.
There was an offer from a first place team. "Nah, I really don't want to go there." And from another team closer to his home. "Yuk, that does not sound good either," the kid asks. "Just send me back to the team from last year."
Here's the reality dad; there were a few teams interested, but his piss poor attitude comes through very nicely on video...and that's after we told him folks would be watching and he was showing the best behavior.
The parent is trigger happy and will likely have his superstar on an airplane by morning. That's OK because doing so will close the door to any USA Hockey or Hockey Canada program for the remainder of the season. Well, unless daddy buys out his signed player agreement. I'm sure that there will be some heehawing and whining along the way. But hey, I'm certain there are some outstanding outlaw league opportunities with the Greater Metro Hockey League.
Here's the icing on the cake; maybe if the dad was a bit more supportive, instead of being antagonist from game one, the player could have found his comfort zone and lit the lamp like the dad thinks he's able to. All that was asked of him was to put up the numbers and the NAHL door would be open for him.
As it turns out, the only thing open was the dad's mouth to the kid's ear. How many players have been ruined by that situation?
For the record, the four points scored in nine games this season are just two less than what the superstar managed in a total of 30 games last season. Just sayin'.
So, if there are any Canadian Junior "C" teams out there interested in this superstar, please drop me a line. I'm certain we have just what your team needs to compete for the crown, dad tells me that all the time.
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