USA Hockey Magazine

October 2014

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& Y ou don't have to be a Las Vegas card shark to know that a full house is a tough hand to beat. Nobody knows that better than the full house of coaches who were dealt a winning hand at the National Hockey Coaches Symposium. The four-day event held during the heat of the Las Vegas summer was a chance for grass-roots coaches to listen and learn as some of the best and brightest minds in hockey discussed everything from designing off-ice training pro- grams to creating habits for individual and team success. The impressive lineup of speakers featured a number of top coaches, including Jack Capuano of the N.Y. Islanders and Jon Cooper of the Tampa Bay Lightning, along with AHL head coaches John Hynes (Wilkes Barre-Scranton Penguins) and Jeff Blashill (Grand Rapids Griffins). Dan Bylsma, the head coach of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team, and former NHL assistant coach Mike Sullivan were also on the docket. The current success of American coaches isn't just found in the fact that more homegrown coaches are holding top-level posi- tions in the game. It is also evident in the passion of grass-roots coaches who continue to keep learning and improving their craft at all levels of the game. "This is really invigorating to be here. It's great to see the energy and the passion that you all bring to the sport," said Hynes, who is considered one of the rising stars in the professional coaching ranks. "I get paid to coach in the pros. You guys all have day jobs and still find time to work with kids and have a real impact on the game at the grass-roots level." Tracing its origins back to 1985, the National Coaches Symposium is the pinnacle of USA Hockey's Coaching Education Program, which hosts more than 800 coaching clinics annually. Over the years, the symposium has grown into a celebration of the profession in addition to a tribute of those who have reached its highest levels. "It brings back a flood of memories for me because it wasn't too long ago that I was the one sitting in the audience and not being up on the podium," said Cooper, who credits his involvement with USA Hockey for the opportunities he's received to coach in the NHL. "I'm not someone who played in the National Hockey League so I can relate with some of these coaches because I was in their situation not that long ago." Typically held in the Northeast and upper Midwest, bringing this event to Las Vegas, a city without the rich hockey history of previous host sites, shows how far the game has come in non- American Coaches Dealt A Winning Hand Vegas Style At National Hockey Coaches Symposium OCTOBER. 2014 USAHOCKEYMAGAZINE.COM Higher Education HIGH ROLLERS PHOTOS BY Harry Thompson 36 A total of 434 coaches from around the country converged on Las Vegas to listen to an impressive lineup of speakers at the 2014 National Hockey Coaches Symposium. BY HARRY THOMPSON

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