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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Team Leadership

I've had the pleasure of coaching some really good teams that were pretty talented over the last few years but each has fallen short for various reasons.  This year was puzzling to me as I struggled to wrap my head around the team I saw winning games week in and week out.  Now you may say, why struggle if they are winning games?   Well, I saw a team that lacked leadership.  A team without a player who took control.  Even at a young level, the coach can't control everything.  The team needs a player or two that are in charge on the deck, in the locker room and even at practice.

It wasn't until recently that I read this article, that I realized this happens at all levels.

"They aren't as young anymore, and they have lost three consecutive Stanley Cup playoff series.
What went wrong? And where do they go from here?
When the young Penguins surged into the playoffs in 2007 and won the Stanley Cup two years later, they did so under the guidance of respected veterans.
Billy Guerin didn't wear the "C," but he always pointed captain Sidney Crosby in the right direction.
Sergei Gonchar didn't tell Evgeni Malkin how to play hockey, but he was the superstar's mentor and a calming influence on young players such as Kris Letang.
There were others, too. Leaders such as Hal Gill and Gary Roberts took pressure off Crosby, Malkin, Letang and Jordan Staal while passing along untold wisdom.
When Gonchar departed via free agency in 2010, management made it clear the team now belonged to its youthful stars.
They haven't won a playoff series since."

As I approach Evaluations for my team, one of the new criteria I'll be looking for is 'Leadership'.  How does the player handle himself around his teammates.  Does he have control and the respect of the other players to lead them through good times and bad.

I think back to a player that I had 2 seasons ago.  Kyle was the vocal leader on the team. He knew when to fire up the players or pull them aside after the coaches were done talking and let them know what needed to be done.  He led, they followed.  He was a true leader and the other players knew it.  I'm hoping to find that player this season.  I see one in the making, so it will be interesting to see how he handles it this coming year.


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