Guy Charron, the head coach of the WHL's Kamloops Blazers, spent his weekend ensconced in the fourth annual KMHA Summer Coaches' Conference.
Charron, a veteran of the coaching wars at virtually every level, came away suitably impressed.
"The people who are asked to speak . . . I don't know how George is able to recruit these people," Charron said, referring to KMHA head coach George Cochrane. "It's a top-notch thing."
Among the presenters were some of the most-respected coaches in the game, like Charron, veteran NHL coach Ken Hitchcock, Vancouver Giants head coach Don Hay, Montreal Canadiens assistant coach Perry Pearn, Mike Johnston, the GM/head coach of the Portland Winterhawks, and Vancouver Canucks assistant coach Ryan Walter.
"For any amateur coaches in the area, it's a great resource," Charron said. "I'm surprised . . . by the amount of quality presenters. These were great presenters and great presentations."
Charron especially liked this conference because of its smallish size.
As he said, there were 30 or 40 coaches on hand and they are able to easily associate with the presenters "and ask us questions."
And, he said, there was a real willingness to share information, something that hasn't always been the case in the world of hockey.
"For a long time," Charron said, "this was never done. You didn't want to share your secrets, or whatever."
But, as he pointed out, "It doesn't matter what secret you share on a system, it's going to be your presentation and how you do it to your team and how you sell it to your players."
In other words, at the end of the day, it's all about the execution.
Charron said that Hitchcock, a former Blazers head coach, shared an interesting story regarding his involvement as an assistant coach with Team Canada at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
It seems that when the coaching staff - head coach Mike Babcock and assistants Jacques Lemaire, Lindy Ruff and Hitchcock - there was a reluctance to share information. It wasn't until Babcock opened up that the ice was broken.
Hitchcock "said they were there for four days and the first two days, no one would share information," Charron related. "Babcock eventually had flip-chart paper everywhere in the room where they were meeting and it was all about what the Detroit Red Wings do. That kind of lightened up the atmosphere and then everybody got sharing their info.
"After that, everybody relaxed and shared what they had learned over their careers."
Hitchcock, Charron said, also took something of a lead role in asking coaches at this conference not to be afraid to share their secrets.
"We're hired to be fired," Charron said, "and if you can help someone to keep his job . . . what's wrong with that?"
The bottom line with this conference was that even for a coach like Charron, who is 61 years of age and has been coaching for going on 30 years, there were nuggets of information to be mined.
"It's awesome," he said. "There was a benefit even for me to sit in and listen to these guys. Every coach would learn something. They cover what we all know but there's always a way that the presenters will say something that may just give you an idea.
JUST NOTES: Charron and his wife, Michele, have purchased a home in Kamloops. "I think this is going to be home for us," he said. "We really enjoy it here." . . . Charron expects to have both of his assistant coaches - Scott Ferguson and Geoff Smith - back for another season. It's believed that Smith was close to joining the Giants' coaching staff, but has decided to stay in Kamloops. . . . Former Blazers F Alex Rodgers will attend the University of Alberta in the fall and play for the Golden Bears. Rodgers completed his major junior eligibility with the Prince George Cougars last season. . . . G Justin Leclerc, who was released by the Blazers in November, has decided to attend the U of Waterloo and play for the Warriors. Leclerc finished last season with the MJHL's Winnipeg Saints.
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