When To Cut The Hockey Cord

I can't help but feel we hockey parents tend to have it worse than others. How are we supposed to keep our kids safe as they try to learn such a difficult sport like hockey? We never want to see them fall on the ice, take a hit from an opponent or feel the letdown of a tough loss.

And perhaps because we don't have control over things like that we try to combat it, in small ways by yelling at coaching decisions that WE don't agree with, making sure WE put on their gear and lace up their skates, and that WE lug around that giant hockey bag.

But while we are looking out for our kids, it's easy to overlook when we've gone too far. After all, the point of playing sports is for kids to have fun and learn-whether it's about being part of a team, overcoming adversity or accomplishing something that once seemed impossible.

I remember when my daughter Sophia's Squirt coach informed her that it was time to cut the cord with dad, and lace up those skates on her own.

Panic immediately set in. She was convinced only her dad could get her skates tight enough, and if they weren't tight enough, she wasn't going to be good enough. 

As a parent, it's only sensible to feel, "I can quell those fears, so why not just keep tying those skates myself?"

But as Charice Wilczynski, a coach in suburban Chicago, points out, there are big lessons for your kiddos to learn by accomplishing the smallest of tasks.

"In order to teach our young skaters about the power of resilience, we must embrace the lessons and struggles we see around the rink as a road map to the path of success, both in the sport of ice hockey and in life itself," Wilczynski says. 

You might think you are "saving the day" by rushing home after a piece of equipment your player should have packed, but in reality, you may not be doing them any favors.

"A hockey player will learn to pack his/her own hockey bag much more carefully after sitting in the stands as a consequence for forgetting equipment the first time, rather than relying on parents to take care of everything all the time," Wilczynski says.

So what is the age of independence for our young hockey players to carry their own bags and tie their own skates? When I tossed it out to veteran hockey followers on Facebook, the general consensus seemed to be at the 10 & Under level.

"Most parents make the little kids skates so tight, the ankle can't move and it becomes a comfort feel for the kid," says Malta, N.Y., hockey dad Greg Bunt.

Fortunately for us, switching to waxed laces seemed to-at least in Sophia's mind and feet-get "the right" tight feel. It was a small step, but it ultimately helped her blossom as a player, and then so much more. 




Coach of the Month

Paul St. Amand  //  Age 63  //  Houston 

Two decades after being approached about an assistant coaching job with a local high school hockey team, Paul St. Amand has shown no signs of leaving the game he loves.

Currently the leader of the Fair/Creek high school team in Houston, St. Amand will celebrate 20 years of service to the Interscholastic Hockey League this season, attributing his longevity to the kids. 

"Being around the players keeps you young," he says. "I originally got going with my son as a parent coach, and even after he left, I still enjoy coaching.

"None of us coaches have kids on the team, which makes it easy for us to concentrate on the game and not have to worry about whose kid's are playing or not."

With a hockey background that goes all the way back to when he was 3 or 4 years old, Paul won't be going anywhere soon.

"I love hockey. I played junior hockey years ago outside Detroit," he says. "I still watch every Red Wings game. I love the sport."






Who is your favorite 2023/2024 NHL Rookie?
Connor Bedard
Matthew Knies
Brock Faber
Logan Stankoven
Logan Cooley
Total votes: 4