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I’d like to pose several questions about ‘team play’ and why some teams win and some lose. There are obviously many factors that can lead to success, but I’d like to center the discussion on game play and coaching in these following topics. Any feedback on any of the topics covered is much appreciated!

KEY FACTORS Aside from the obvious important components of talented personnel (players & goalie) and work ethic/desire, what are the key factors that you as a coach think decides winning or losing when it comes to team play? Some coaches and commentators mention special teams, turnovers, FC, breakouts etc. All of these are important, but do you believe there is a way to play and execute certain components over the course of a game that make the 'bigger' difference between a team that wins and a team that loses? What part of the game do you place your emphasis on? Are all team systems created equal or do some have greater significance as it pertains to winning and losing?

What key factors over the course of a game lead to winning? When you watch two teams of equal strength play each other what systems of play or team play factors lead you to believe one team will defeat the other? One team has more efficient breakouts and the other team is better at forechecking or perhaps stronger in its DZC - who do you bet on? The Detroit Red Wings are known for being built on puck possession and offense while the NJ Devils were known for years for its defense and traps. Both led to winning championships in the past. But with the new NHL and the new era of hockey is one style of play better suited for today’s game?

GAME THEORY What is your theory on the game? Is it more a game of puck possession or is at a game of gaining territory? In football they talk about turnovers being a key statistic (fumbles & interceptions) yet in hockey there are hundreds of turnovers a game between two teams. On one play during a 2v2 play, an attacker beats his defender and scores a goal and it is thought of as genius and helps his team win; and in another game that player turns the puck over on the 2v2 and the opponent counterattacks for a goal and the player is benched for not getting the puck deep in the offensive zone and his team loses. What determines the correct play when you’re playing to win? Do you believe in playing not to lose (i mean that in a positive way) by playing in a disciplined fashion, patiently and methodically waiting for your chance to strike when your opponent breaks down or do you believe in taking more aggressive initiative and calculated risks that lead to big rewards but higher risks?

GAME STATISTICS & VIDEO How important are statistics over the course of a game? What are the most important stats to look for? What statistic plays a bigger role? Shots on goal or scoring chances? Some coaches want shots from all areas of the ice and have a team objective of 30+ shots per game while other coaches are happy with 20 shots if 10 come from high percentage scoring chances? What do you believe leads to more wins over the course of a season?

If you were to break down video of your team are there team play systems/principles on the offensive or defensive side of the puck that you concentrate on more when you review a game? Are there areas of the game that you want disciplined structure and other areas where you allow for more creativity?

NHL COACHES This topic is more suited for Junior hockey to the Pro level, where winning is a top priority, compared to younger levels where the priority is mostly skill development and fun. At the pro level, NHL coaches talk about their philosophies, how they want their team to play and what areas they place the greatest importance. They have a belief system of what winning teams do well. For example, a coach like Mike Babcock, who has won a Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medal, has a so-called method to his madness. Also coach Guy Boucher, just hired by Tampa Bay, is known for his innovative coaching tactics and winning history. Do you think these NHL coaches see the game differently than other coaches? Have they discovered a winning formula in the tactics/systems and how the game should be played in order to win consistently? What do you personally believe are the keys to winning hockey games consistently and what is your team play philosophy? What areas of the game do you place the greatest importance on both offensively and defensively?

Most of us go to games at Junior, College or Pro and watch games on TV of the NHL and 'see' it through our own eyes and interpretation. Overall, do you think there is a winning formula in today’s game? Any feedback on any of the topics covered is much appreciated! Thank you for your time!

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