Archive for June 2013

For Some Rinks, Status Quo Seems Good Enough

June 26, 2013

I’ll bet even my long time followers believe my experiences over the past 40+ years have been limited to just coaching hockey.  Oh, it’s true, that my main interest has been in teaching the game.  Over all that span, though, I’ve actually had to wear a number of hats, including running some hockey businesses and twice being an arena manager.  Moreover, I’m an observant rascal, and I’ve hardly missed a trick as I’ve watched some of the best at doing hockey biz.

With that, I sense that any business type is going to find a number of my recent observations interesting…

Coach Chic:  Hi, this is Dennis Chighisola.  Is Bill available?

Rink Secretary:  Sorry, Coach, but Bill and Jerry are out of town for a couple of days, at an arena managers’ convention.

Coach Chic:  (Thinking to himself:  Hmmmmmm…   A 20-year veteran rink owner and his long time manager are taking the time to learn new things, and to discover what’s going on at other rinks?  Ya, hmmmmmm…)

So, what got me going on this topic today?  The truth is, it’s the culmination of my having received a kzillion emails over recent months, these having to do with rink offerings that will take place lightyears from now.  Okay, that last part was a little tongue-in-cheek,  but let me explain…

This morning’s email was advertising a stickhandling course that will take place next fall.  So, with this being almost the start of July, that rink is alerting potential customers at least two months in advance.

Actually, I have probably received five or six other notices from various rinks, each of those alerting the reader about the summer hockey schools coming to their facilities.  Rightly so, though, those emails arrived in my inbox a good three or four months ago, and still several months prior to each program’s start.

It should make sense that enrolling in anything like a clinic or camp requires some sort of commitment on the parts of the prospective customers.  And it should make further sense that families will oftentimes plunk down their deposits as early as they can.

What I’m getting at is that it’s risky business to think about and then advertise new programs at the last minute.  Most of your potential customers will likely already be committed elsewhere, even if they’d have preferred your program.

As you can tell, I’m on a lot of mailing lists, mainly because it’s my business to keep up on the goings on in the hockey world.  And one of the regular newsletters I received yesterday is from back near my old Massachusetts home, where a group of rinks is always announcing their coming programs, also a good two to three months in advance.  And they then constantly remind their readers of those offerings over subsequent issues.

Then, get a load of this…  About a month ago I received information about two different youth hockey tournaments that will take place next Christmas — one in the northeast, and the other out west.  So, in each case, I believe the notices arrived something like six months in advance.  (Halfway into writing this post, an email arrived announcing tournaments at a southeast location that will take place this coming November, January and February.)

Of course, it’s easy to see that every one of those arenas is on the ball.  At the same time, my relocation to Florida has me observing some rinks down here that don’t seem to be on quite the same page.  (More on this later.)

I think it’s been a good thing for me to experience or see the rink business from different vantage points.  Of course, I’ve spent the majority of my time as a rink customer, and mainly as a hockey clinic or school director.

As an aside here, I know I used to drive relatives back home crazy when I described my need to sometimes design my own hockey work schedule close to a year in advance.  Trust me, that one doesn’t just rent ice on a given day, and then expect a slew of customers to show up a day or so later.  So, very far in advance, I’d have to lay out the likes of my winter teaching schedule, my winter-long team coaching schedule, my spring clinic lineup, and then where I’d be over the summer months for hockey schools in various locations.  Not easy, for sure, but very, very necessary in my line of work.

Oftentimes those conversations with friends and relatives had to do with how difficult it was to predict the economic climate and so many other outside influences that might have a bearing on attendance (or profit).  A major storm could hit at the wrong time, the economy could tighten drastically, or the local schools could even make a scheduling change that devastated my turnout.  As I said above, though, it was absolutely necessary to book ice, enlist my staff, and do so many other things long in advance of each program.

Switching hats now — from hockey school director to arena manager, let me tell you that so much of the same line of thinking holds true from one job to the other.

When I was a rink manager (in my younger years), I was always working on schedules that were two seasons away.  In other words, sometime around mid-winter, I’d already be plotting how the rink’s spring should look; not long after I’d be looking at the summer months; and by the spring I’d already be sensing what was necessary to fill our ice come the fall.  Then, considering all the things long distance teams have to do in order to commit to a tournament, an undertaking like that had to be planned and then announced a good six months (maybe further) in advance.

Now, one thing I’ve always been famous for is the way I handle the so-called “dead ice”.

BIAFor sure, plotting a rink’s activities far in advance helps identify open blocks that aren’t yet sold.  And, of course, that makes for a handy list or chart to keep available when one is talking to hockey or other skating groups.  And it always came in handy when I was considering a new program.

As importantly, areas of dead ice can often suggest where slight scheduling changes might be made.  One has to identify them early, though, in order to jockey some hours around — to either close some gaps or enlarge them, the latter in order to accommodate a new program.

I said I was always famous for filling dead ice, and this is so.  In fact, there used to be one rink manger in Massachusetts who would call me any time he discovered a block of ice that he just couldn’t sell.

Actually, that’s the ice-time I’ve always viewed as dead.  I mean, something locally usually had an effect on that ice — maybe because that was when tee-ball was played, or when the local town soccer teams had their games, whatever.  It could have even been during prime-time cookout hours that prevented locals from coming to the rink, unless…

Ya, unless something very special was taking place.  And that’s where I’ve tended to excel.

I’ve already been told by more than one USA Hockey official that they keep tabs on what I do and write.  So, I have to be thinking that some of the inspiration for their current day ADM Program comes from something I created sometime around 1990-ish.  Believe it or not, it included “small area games”, teaching stations and — get this:  portable rink dividers that I made myself.  And, that program not only packed the ice in my home rink on Saturday mornings for many springs, but I ultimately trailered my portable “boards” and took that show on the road to several other area rinks.

Again, though, nothing of consequence can be accomplished on empty or trouble ice-times unless someone identifies those times far in advance.

Now, I might be unfairly accusing some rinks of not keeping up with what’s going on elsewhere, or with what others in the industry are doing.  However, it at least seems that way to me.  Remaining in the dark — and staying with the status quo — is not only stifling to a rink’s bottom line, but it’s also eventually quashing growth in most of its skating programs.

I recently stumbled upon a story about one local rink that seemed not to deal with a situation in what I know to be the right fashion.  What happened was that a hockey mom and coach’s wife messaged me on Facebook one day with a slight complaint.  She said that a local rink had wanted to charge her husband more than the wintertime hourly rate to run a summer hockey school.  Huh?

I told her that rinks back in and around New England generally discounted their spring — and especially their summer — ice-time, mainly because it was difficult to lure hockey families away from other sports, barbecues, the beaches, and the likes.

Here’s the scariest part to handling things in the wrong way, however…  My guess is that the manager of the rink in question is going to be walking into the place lots of times over the coming spring and summer months, and he or she is going to stare at a place with the lights off and no one on the ice.  Not good; not good at all.

SportAboutShopUnderstand a basic premise when it comes to a rink’s bottom line…  Within reason, the bills to run the facility are constant — 24/7, and for 365-days out of the year.  I mean, the costs to maintain the ice, staff and other things are going to keep mounting, whether anyone is paying for the ice or not, whether anyone is buying from the snackbar or vending machines or not, and whether anyone is spending any money in the pro shop or not.

And it’s at times like that — when the manager (and owners?) see the empty ice, that he or she has to be thinking, “God, I’d even take a dollar or two for that ice right now!”

Worse yet, not only is that hockey school gone for this summer, but it’s gone for lots of summers to come.  Think about that one, please.

Just so you know, when I’d make initial contact with a new rink, I’d ask the manager to help me over the first summer hump.  That guy usually knew what I meant, in that it’s always tough getting a first-time program started.  A hockey school director almost expects to lose a little money until his program becomes established, but if the rink can work with him a little, it surely helps.  At the same time, it seems in the rink’s best interest to help that school get going, understanding that it might stay in that previously dead ice slot for a lot of years to come.  And, if it’s anything like my old programs, there’s a chance that the new school might even expand and buy a whole lot more hard to sell ice.

Then, while I said that an email this morning got me reeling at my ‘writer, something else a few weeks back actually started me thinking on this subject.  I was talking on the phone with a guy from the midwest, and he was telling me about the rink near him trying to advertise and start a springtime adult skills clinic on the spur of the moment.  Ugh.  By now, you know my feelings on that.

Here’s what I suggested to the young guy on the phone…  “That thing should have been advertised while all the potential customers were still playing in the rink’s winter adult league.  They were a captive audience back then — for handouts left in the lobby and in their dressingrooms, and for posters around the rink.  Teammates would have likely discussed it, they may have told guys from other rinks about it, and some may have even arranged for car pools.  Most importantly, guys (and gals) could have made long-range plans to attend that clinic, before they looked elsewhere, and maybe before they arranged spring or summer vacations.”

One other thought when it comes to building up rink business…  I tend to use a pyramid to demonstrate a lot of things in hockey.  When it comes to this conversation, though, the triangle-ish shape I draw on paper shows a kzillion little kids at the base.  They’re needed to support and feed the upper levels of a rink’s programs, be they in ice hockey, figure skating, whatever.

If you can visualize what I’m describing here, little ones should be relatively easy to attract — partly because a beginners’ program can be dirt-cheap and accessible to many local families.  Hooking them — or keeping them so that they’ll move onto a higher level program — is the next real challenge.  (I’ve written quite a lot on this subject over on my website, including the way I’ve managed nearly a 100% success rate in keeping the little ones coming back.)

The reason my sketch tapers towards its top is that skaters are generally lost for a myriad of reasons, as they get older and move up through more challenging levels.  Such attrition can be for a lot of  very good reasons, including lost interest, the parents inability to keep up financially, and so on.  Again, it’s a natural thing, and something to be expected.  The answer is to start with the broad feeder program, give regulars plenty of reasons to stay, and then have enticing reasons for new players to join the higher levels from elsewhere.

About the only other unusual element of my pyramid has a rather exclusive type team at its peak.  In hockey, that might be an elite-like under-16 team, and eventually either an under-20 or Junior team.  Why is something rather elite so important?  My feeling is that all the kids at the lower levels need something to look up to and to aim for.  Dreams of playing in college or in the pros are factors in young kids sticking with their game, and so might those things be in the backs of the parents’ minds.  However, that local elite team is the obvious nearby stepping stone, and one that should be within reach for the better homegrown players.

If you can picture the opposite here, it’s that — absent a higher level team in one rink, the parents of young teens start looking elsewhere.  Worse yet, they just might leave the first rink a year or two early, just to get their foot in the door at another rink.

As it so happens, an organization I used to do a lot of work for is planning to build a new rink complex up on the east coast.  The man in charge touches base with me once in awhile, maybe to pick my brain, but more probably because he knows I enjoy talking about such things.  One concern I’ve pointed out to him — beyond what I’ve already mentioned here — is the importance of structuring ice-time in a special way.  I mean, the majority of successful rinks have certain groups skating in similar time slots for very good reasons.  I mention this because I’ve noticed some rinks going again the grain in this regard.  What I’m hinting at is that they’re painting themselves in a corner when it comes to growing certain programs, purely because the unused ice isn’t where it should be.

Then, as I watch Florida rinks make announcements for their various team tryouts, I have to shake my head once again.  What could they be thinking, if they’re not trying to one-up other rinks, or trying to attract more players to their own organizations?

I usually love Kevin Costner movies, and I especially loved “Field of Dreams”.  At the same time, most business types will tell you that the movie’s “build it and they will come” theme doesn’t work in real life.  Naw, you have to have a promotional plan in place, and then you have to very carefully execute that plan.

My gut tells me that a number of the rinks I’ve visited lately long ago built their shiny new facilities, opened their doors, and then declared, “Here we are!”  Management may have armed themselves with the right ideas back then, but they later relaxed into a “they will come” mentality.  Of course, I’m here to tell them that they will not necessarily come, or at least in the numbers most rinks want.

I may be 108-years old, but I get the feeling I’m more “with it” than a lot of rink owners or managers half my age.  I mean, I investigate everything new that comes along, and they should, too…

I’m not only big into social media (boasting 15,000+ connections), but I know how to use it.  In fact, a lot of business types ask this old hockey coach for advice on the subject.  With that, I believe every rink nowadays ought to have a social media person (other than a niece or nephew) keeping its brand constantly before customers’ eyes (and in their minds).  And new deals ought to be flowing on a weekly basis.

QR Code

Then, here’s a freebie tip…  QR codes are easy to generate, and they’d be awesome to use on posters displayed around a rink.  Anyone who has ever printed posters, knows they’d love to include more info, but that just makes the poster look cluttered.  The answer is to encourage customers to “Scan this code to discover a whole lot more!”  (You’d be surprised how many customers already have code scanning apps on their smart phones.)  The scanned code can take the customer to a website where an on-line signup or printable application form can be found.

Here’s yet another freebie…  Have your top coaches (in any sport) create a simple ebook loaded with some simple tips.  Offer the ebook on the rink’s website as a free gift in exchange for the customer’s name and email address.  The entire process is simple to automate, and a rink can make some friends while its email list grows — completely unattended.

Winding down here, what I’ve been saying doesn’t necessarily go for all local rinks.  In fact, in between the rinks that aren’t keeping up are those that are thinking outside the box — or at least thinking — and stealing the others’ customers.

Does any of the above sound like rocket science?  It shouldn’t.  For the most part, everything I’ve mentioned above is really a matter of common sense.

Have I meant to direct any criticisms toward a single rink?  Naw.  All rinks have their strengths and shortcomings.  And even the best deal with the likes of dead ice; they’re simply among the best because they’ve taken the time to identify the problems, and they continue to look for creative solutions.

As for me, I really just needed to give my mind some exercise today, and I also needed to clear out a rather cluttered email inbox of all those hockey school, clinic and tournament ads.

One last minute thought…  I’ll be the first to admit that I make as many mistakes as the next guy  (or gal).  What I hope I do better than most is to not make the same mistake twice.  I say this because the rinks I’ve kinda criticized here look like they have a track record for doing the wrong things — or perhaps doing nothing — on a regular basis.


What Naysayers Have In Common

June 18, 2013

THE FREE Dictionary defines “naysay” as “To oppose, deny, or take a pessimistic or negative view of…”

Ya, that about does it for me, because I’m mainly talking about those who take a pessimistic or negative view about something, most of the time with an argument that is so far off base it makes the naysayer look foolish.

Okay, so I always try to make it a point to let my friends know what set me off lately.  (I also always promise that posts here aren’t totally about my profession, but also about work experiences in general.)  For this one it’s easy, though, if you’ll allow me to explain a little history…

After experiencing what I’d gone through with the demise of the Tropical Elite Hockey League, I spent plenty of time reflecting on the whole affair.  I’m not talking about sulking, however, because I’d done enough of that in the first month or so after I was left stranded here in Florida.

What I got kinda psyched about were the things I learned during the TEHL’s brief existence.  For sure, I’d seen plenty of things done wrongly, but that was actually good — I mean seeing what didn’t work, and then coming up with remedies I sensed would.  Actually, I knew in my heart that I could have saved the league had I been given the chance to replace the — take your pick:  either inept or corrupt — league commissioner.

What non-hockey or non-Junior level folks should know is that there are few Junior teams across the US that don’t charge their players to play.  In other words, they work a lot like youth hockey, whereby the players pay for the opportunity to play.

And, make no mistake about it, teams in pay-to-play leagues live or die on having full rosters.  Operating costs are high for running a Junior hockey program — what with the practice and game ice costs, long distance travel expenses, equipment, front office and coaching salaries, and much, much more.

Actually, I’d done better than any other TEHL GM/coach when it came to recruiting, but I still didn’t come close to a full roster.  The problem, at least as I saw it, was that the players were out there — somewhere, I and the other league teams needed more players, but I’ll be darned if we ever got to connect.

The latter was one reason I decided last fall to form the Junior Hockey Scouting Service.  I’d gather tons of young guys interested in playing Junior hockey, and then I’d connect them with teams in need of players.

Junior Hockey Scouting ServiceThe second part of the equation had to do with deciding which side should pay for the service.  And I believe my decision was a first for this kind of service, because I allowed the players to enroll for free.  I further reasoned that a paying player was worth a lot to a team in need, usually representing at least $8000 (in tuition) per player.

I wouldn’t make teams pay per player, though.  Actually, I arranged a far better deal that’s so low it’s almost a no-brainer.

Okay, so now that you have the gist of how things work with my JHSS, I’ll leave it at that and get on to those naysayers.

Well, as I so often do, a few weeks ago I mentioned the JHSS in a few social media posts.  Suddenly, I get kind of a punch in the ear by a young guy on Twitter.  His gripe was that I was trying to pull young high school kids away from home.  ???  I tried to explain that that wasn’t my aim, and I wished that I could have explained better within Twitter’s “140 Rule” how I actually turned away a couple of star players at the TEHL tryout camp.  Yup.  As good as they were, I told their parents that I preferred they go back home and finish their last 2-years of high school before returning to see me.

This aside…  First, I advertise the JHSS to all Junior eligible players, which means it’s open to guys from 16- through 20-years old, just as dictated by the two ruling hockey federations.  Secondly, I’m not about to tell players and parents what they can and can’t do, as long as the kids are eligible.

As it turned out, the couple of young, future stars I mentioned earlier — and turned away — just went and found another Junior team.  Grrrrrrrrr…  So much for good intentions, huh?

The young Twitter naysayer didn’t give up, though, and I sensed he was attempting to embarrass me and my program in front of his handful of followers (it’s true, that few hockey people were even following the guy, which suggested to me the amount of clout he actually had).  Stay tuned, however, and I’ll tell you more about that jerk a little later.

Now, you have to understand that I spend a lot of time in social media; that’s a big part of what I do.  And, while I tweet and post about a lot of different topics — including the escapades of my little pooch, Raggs, I generally let friends know about the JHSS a couple of times per day.  That in mind, I felt those posts had been pretty well received when only one other naysayer muddied my Twitter stream the other day.

Ya, it was another shot in my ear, with this guy announcing to the world that, “There are too many Junior teams!”  (Obviously not a rocket scientist, that’s something I’ve read a few times in articles penned by other Pessimistic Petes.)

What does one say to that, because I have my feelings on the subject — and it’s just an opinion, while he’d be hard pressed to really defend his stance, either.  What the guy really meant was that, he feels there aren’t enough great players to fill all the teams in existence.

Oh, boy, do I have some feelings when it comes to that one…  You see, humans mature at drastically different rates, which means that a late bloomer at one point could ultimately out shine a lot of previously noteworthy players.  In fact, with what we know about the sciences nowadays, a kid who suddenly gets motivated can, given a little time, blow right by the player who supposedly has all the talent.

Knowing that numbskull is from the Boston area, I pointed out the story of Daniel Nava, who is currently starring with the Boston Red Sox.  By all rights, Nava should be paying his way into pro baseball games, because just a few years ago he was buried on a who-cares, low, low minor league team.  Nava just wouldn’t quit, however, someone within the Red Sox organization gave him a chance, and the rest is becoming basball history.  Actually, though, Nava wasn’t even an instant hit in the Red Sox system, experiencing a few highs and enough lows to make most guys quit.  He wouldn’t quit, however, but instead kept working his butt off until he was able this spring to earn a regular spot on the Sox’ Major League roster.  And, he’s not just hanging on by his thumbs, but instead having Boston-area fans saying he deserves to make the American League All-star team.  Amazing, huh?

Of course, the latest naysayer tweeted something to the effect that Nava is a one-in-a-million story.  My feeling?  I’m in the game for the sake of guys like Nava, and it’s stories like that one that keep me feeling that a lot of players deserve a chance to hang on a little longer, to get a little more good coaching, and to give their bodies and minds a chance to mature just a little bit more.

Naysayer Number Two and I went back and forth exchanging insults for even longer than did Number One and I.

I always get a kick out of guys who use as their argument things that are totally unrelated and really off the wall.  This guy evidently thought name dropping gave his case more validity, but I laughed and thought to myself that I probably taught or coached the guys he looks up to.  At the least, they’ve probably followed my writings.

Before leaving this dummy, I feel the need to even better explain our disagreement, as well as some of what I said just a while ago…

He seems to feel as though a kid who doesn’t show some real promise at maybe 18-ish years old should be told so, and sent home to play in some adult rec league.  I, on the other hand, have that “players mature at different times” mentality, and I’m always willing to give a good kid just one more chance.

Okay, so I’ve promised to share with you my thoughts on the things the typical naysayers have in common.  In other words, why would someone take the time or expend the energy to argue a given point — in public, no less?

Of course, you and I probably see lots of posts travel through our streams that cause us to shake our heads.  Most of the time we dismiss them with a mumbled expletive, and most often decide that an argument isn’t worth the effort.

That’s why I’ve come to realize that there has to be a real driving force behind anyone who ultimately chooses to engage in a negative way.  I have to think that there’s a selfish reason they’re doing it, too, and I’ve hardly ever been disappointed with that one.

This line of thinking goes way back to my earliest years in coaching…  I mean, back as far as the late-1970’s and long before the JHSS came along, I was pioneering new training methods, promoting some new scientific principles, selling hockey books or training manuals, and even getting word out about a new hockey training invention.  Ya, those were times when naysayers seemed to come out of the woodwork.  And those were also the times when I started seeing a connection.

As an example…  When I returned from Moscow of the old USSR, I was psyched to show hockey folks around New England new and better ways to train, and most often without even needing costly ice-time.  Those who listened to me got to discover — probably 15-years in advance of others — how to use plyometrics and how to get faster with over-speed training.  As I hinted at above, though, there certainly were detractors — and how.  Why?  Hmmmmmm…

The sale of my “You Can Teach A Basic Hockey System” manual was another one that caused quite a stir.  The digital version hit the market at about the same time USA Hockey put forth their ADM Program.  A number of youth coaches started screaming bloody blue murder that I’d encourage the teaching of X’s and O’s to young players.  At this point, some readers might believe the naysaying should have been expected, in that my manual does go against prevailing USA Hockey preachings.  On the other hand, I’m going to ultimately suggest something quite different.

Once the in-line craze hit North America, I unveiled some things I’d already been doing behind the scenes with some of my students.  It was awesome, really, knowing that most hockey players could suddenly have access to a new tool that promised some gains even beyond what could be done on the ice.  Enter the naysayers, however.  And, even though I explained how certain negative training effects could be avoided with slight adaptations to training, the boo-birds persisted and persisted.  Why?  Ugh…

Then, you should have heard the screaming when my invention, the Skater’s Rhythm-bar, started selling around the world.  Wow.  Guys and gals who hadn’t a clue about the sciences claimed it went against all that was known about skating mechanics.  The fact is, that device is totally based on what’s known about skating.  Newton’s Laws are involved, as are the studies by numerous PhDs who make a living analyzing physical movements.  Yet, there were pert, little former figure skaters and telephone linemen — who moonlighted as “powerskating coaches” — telling anyone who would listen that the Rhythm-bar would hurt a player’s stride.  Why?  Geeeeeeeeeze…

What I ultimately realized was that guys (and gals) with their own very strong agendas were nearly always the culprits when it came to beating down a good idea.  As a matter of fact, I don’t think I ever met a naysayer who wasn’t thinking about his or her pocketbook, first and foremost.  They weren’t thinking about kids, and they weren’t thinking at all about the betterment of our game.  No, almost everything I encountered from those Negative Nellies came from pure selfishness.

In reference to the downing of my training manual, a few guys knocked it because they had their own books or videos on the market.  Not all of the pooh-poohers were thinking about their pocketbooks, however.  Naw, a number of them had found safety within the ADM program, which quite nicely makes it possible for any idiot to conduct something at least close to an effective practice.  So again, those guys weren’t concerned so much about financial gains as they were in preserving a system of “teaching” that required them to do little more than toss a puck out onto the ice.

In most instances, egos also came into play when the handfuls of negative feedback came my way.  I can’ blame the likes of noted powerskating instructors for having their noses out of joint as I began gaining some attention.  For sure, they didn’t want their students looking to off-ice training if all they knew about was on-ice stuff.  I’m guessing they were also panicking that my Skater’s Rhythm-bar was going to render a lot of their teachings as archaic.

And this all brings me back to a grand total of two Twitter members who want to tell the world that there’s something evil about my Junior Hockey Scouting Service.  Hmmmmmm…  I see only a couple of possible answers to this one:  that they are totally right, or that they have a hidden agenda — be it ego- or money-related.  Again, hmmmm…

Naysayer One’s concerns for young kids leaving home might seem innocent enough on the surface; and don’t forget that I kinda agree with that.  Still, he did “protesteth tooooo much” after our initial exchange, and that’s a dead giveaway to me, that there is a very strong agenda lurking in the background.  About all I could discover is that he’s a high school hockey coach in Massachusetts, which leads me to believe he’s probably seen his team lose some good players to Junior hockey.  Where that might suggest his ego was in play, a closer look at his profile shows that he’s also involved in something pretty close to Junior hockey, suggesting to me that his purse might also be taking a hit.  As a matter of fact, I can sense from his bio that it would likely hurt both his ego and his wallet if Junior hockey teams lured players away.

Now, I didn’t have the time to check further but, I found it very interesting that Naysayer Two works in the same vicinity as Number One, right around the north-of-Boston area.  So, are they connected?  No matter, that guy showed his true colors by suggesting that no kids deserve the chance to extend their careers longer if they’re not ready by some arbitrary date.  Of course, his name dropping and other spoutings tell me the ego was a huge factor in his stance.  As for the pocketbook issue, can you believe that guy told me I’m only running the JHSS for the money?  Jeepers, I’m hoping anyone reading this gets paid for what he or she does.  Better yet, since that guy is supposedly a high profile coach, I wish I had the time to ask if he is getting paid to do that job?  (Sometimes guys say stupid things just to hear themselves talk.  :/ )

Oh, that last guy did let his hair down at one point, moaning something about all the work it takes to sort through talent and assemble a team.  Surprise, surprise, huh?  And that brings me to one other reason a naysayer might do what he or she does…  Laziness is what I’m talking about here.  God, it is hard work putting together a new team each year.  And, while I might sympathize, I’m not about to sacrifice any teen players just to make his job easier.  Nor am I going to tell a community that might be willing to support a Junior team that there are already too many teams out there looking to help kids advance in the game.

So there you have it, Coach Chic’s theory on why naysayers do what they do, or the few traits they typically have in common — from concerns for money to fragile egos to a tad bit of laziness to the distinct possibility they’re kinda stupid.

All we can do is keep plodding along, keep dealing with folks as honestly as we can, and keep hoping that we have more friends than naysayers when all is said and done.