Coach Nielsen's Ice Hockey Drills

A New Season is on the Horizon

It’s that time of year again when summer passes to fall and hockey begins once again. I’ve been quiet for a while on the site so that I could for the first time in years sit back and enjoy summer with my wife and family. We took a cruise to the Bahamas for eight great days, with stops in Grand Turk, Nassau and the cruise lines private island. On Grand Turk we rented golf carts and just drove around the small island on our own and explored the beautiful beaches. One wild thing about that island was that they have livestock, you know, cows, chickens, roosters, horses and donkeys just walking around the island. I rode past the local college and there were a group of six donkeys just standing in the entrance under a tree. Bizarre.

We rented scooters in Nassau and buzzed around that island for a few hours. Pretty cool driving on the other side of the road, but after a few minutes it was no big deal. Actually in Grand Turk it was the same but that island only has a few thousand residents so the roads were pretty quiet.

I had a first happen to me this summer. I was FIRED from my high school team! What the heck! I’ve never been fired before and bang I’m out. So, I’m sure some of you are interested in the story. We were playing in what is called the Flyers Cup in our area and it is a pretty big deal. We were the #4 seed and expected to do well. Before the game I had seven players break a team rule and I had to discipline them for a part of that game. One assistant coach wanted me to scratch all seven for the game but I decided to just sit them for one period. Now, the majority of them were from our top two offensive lines and our top defenders, so I was taking a big chance but I felt I had to stick to the team rules or I would lose the respect of the younger players, so I sat the offending seven. To my great joy we came out of the first period 0-0 playing the third and fourth lines and defensemen 3 through 6. I was so proud of the reserve players for working so hard to keep us in the game. Unfortunately we lost the game 3-2 once my full team started playing.

That night the president of the club confronted me on my decision to sit the offending seven (that’s my name for them!) and demanded an explanation to my reasoning. I explained my reasoning and the team rule they broke but that didn’t seem to sway him. One of the “offending seven” was his son along with the son of the vice president, the son of the treasurer and the son of next year’s vice president. I guess I don’t do politics very well. After some back and forth the situation seemed to go away, but I was wrong. About six weeks later I got a call from the new president of the club and he fired me. I guess in this day and age of the “entitled” player a coach can no longer set the rules and dole out the punishment for breaking those rules. Not one parent of the “offending seven” said they were disappointed in their son for placing me in the position of having to discipline them. Very unfortunate.

I participated in a coaching clinic where Brent Peterson of the Nashville Predators was a speaker and he spoke at great length about how the Predators had the back of Barry Trotsky when he sat two premier players for Nashville in the playoffs this past season and how it is important that an organization stand behind the coach when such a decision is made. That speech really hit home for me. Oh well, I’ll take off a year from high school hockey and look for a new coaching spot next year. This year I will concentrate even more energy on my 16 AAA team and enjoy the extra free time to spend with my beautiful wife.

I plan to reach out to the college coaches I know and ask for new drills for the upcoming season, but I’ll also do my best to avoid overcrowding the site with too many drills. Even though many of us like to have a few new drills from time to time, one thing I never wanted the site to be was crowded with too many drills, so I’ll post the best of the best.

Two weeks from today my training camp opens and I really am looking forward to being with the team again. Most of the players took part in the summer camps that a buddy of mine was running and I stopped in twice during the camp to see how the boys were doing. It was a great relaxing summer but now it’s time to get back to work and hit the season hard.

I want to take just a minute to thank all the coaches who gave me ideas on how to equip the coaches / team room, it’s just about finished and ready for the upcoming season. Thanks for all the great ideas.

Many of you also follow WeissTech hockey and HockeyShare but if you don’t already give them a look. Jeremy Weiss has been running a terrific series of posts about coaching and HockeyShare always has great skill development information on their site. Both sites can be found in the “Hockey Sites” section of our site.

That’s it for now. I look forward to another year of meeting some of you in person at tournaments and clinics and the rest of you through email. Have a great remainder of the summer and successful upcoming seasons.

 Coach Nielsen



Filed under: coaching

2 Responses

  1. Steve Camrass says:

    I had a similar situation. Although no team “rule” was violated, the conduct of several players, in my opinion, warranted discipline. The team was in a tournament and heading to the semi finals. I had to decide if I was going to sit the 4 players involved (including my only goalie). After much discussion with my staff, I opted not to discipline the players immediately. The basis of my decision was that I would not simply be punishing the guilty players but also the rest of the team whose conduct had been exemplary. There were other sanctions placed on those players later at a less critical time when the effect on the rest of the team would not be so significant.

    I understand your decision and it was my initial reaction. As I said, in my case, no clear rule was broken. If it had been, my decision may have been different. Hopefully I never find out.

  2. Gregg Huber says:


    I’m sure you take pride in knowing that you handled the situation in a fair and responsible manner. If rules are clear, punishments should be as well…that’s life. Unfortunately, so many “adults” have a myopic view of the world and their kids place in it as they get older and, ideally, more responsible. Enjoy the extra time you’ve gained and the blessing of hopefully finding a better opportunity to teach kids about hockey and life.

    Gregg Huber

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