Diversity in the Game

Over the last two years, I’ve seen a lot of hockey played in a lot of different rinks around North America. I’ve seen it played by different age groups and ability levels. It quickly became apparent that while the game never changes in it’s objectives, the game is very stylistically different in different areas and leagues.

What areas of the game show the biggest differences? East/West vs North/South play, physicality, work ethic/attention to detail, skill/playmaking, pace of play.

Painting with a very broad brush, the game in New England is a very stop & start, gritty, North/South game. Canada tends to feature more skill/playmaking, East/West play, less grit but more big hits. The Central US centers around a much more disciplined, systemic game with good size and speed. Each region seems to have its elements that it does better than others (and some others that are less desirable). Even the junior leagues in each country have their own style of play.

Most coaches would agree that you want a mix of playing styles in your program. Optimally? Bring in some skill and playmaking from Canada, the work ethic and grit from New England, and some big, strong systems guys from the Midwest. Not only do these players bring different playing styles but they bring different life experiences. Your players will learn and grow from each other when a freshman from Ontario meets someone from Texas while hanging out in the room of a junior from Europe. Diversity enhances your team tactically and socially – a win on all fronts.

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