Volume 1, Issue 1 by t0tDMibr


									Volume 1, Issue 5 - December , 2000

   “From the Right Wing…”

                                                        # 21
  Dan Bylsma’s Newsletter
  A Feature of West Michigan Hockey Camp, Inc.
                                                                           Associated Press Photo

        From the Emails I’ve received, I know some of you saw the clip on ESPN and
  ESPN2 of Igor Kravchuk checking me into the boards at the Saddle Dome and the glass
  exploding. No, I didn’t get hurt and actually it wasn’t much of a check; but I must have
  hit the glass just right and it shattered. My dad was able to get the photo from the
  Associated Press through Len Painter, Editor of the Grand Haven (MI) Tribune. A part
  of the picture is shown above. The entire picture is posted in the photo gallery on the
  web site and you can see it in full detail. It’s some picture. Thanks, Mr. Painter

  “The two most important factors in determining whether you will make it to the NHL will
                        not be apparent to the casual observer.”

        There is a saying printed on the back of the T-shirts we sold at last year’s hockey
  camp. It’s also printed at the very bottom of these Newsletters and it’s mentioned in our
  new book. It goes like this:
            It takes three things to succeed: talent, hard work and perseverance. And the
                                   greatest of these is not talent.
        What does it mean that the most important thing in determining success (and for
  most of you that means playing college hockey or in the NHL) isn’t talent? It means that
  as I was coming along in youth hockey and even in college, I played with a lot of players
  who were more talented than me. The newspaper articles about my freshman class of
  recruits at Bowling Green State University pointed to this player and that who were
  “really talented” and expected to make an immediate impact and not one of those highly
  touted players played a game in the NHL. All the players who made the CCHA college
  all-star teams in my senior year were “really talented” and 7 of the 18 never played a
  game in the NHL and only four played the equivalent of a full season (82).
        So you have to wonder why I’ve played in over 250 games in the NHL and some of

the “really talented” players haven’t played their first. I think it’s because I was willing
to work harder and last (persevere) longer than they were. And hard work and
perseverance are more important than talent.
     So if you are talented, I’m jealous; but I need to warn you that talent is not the most
important ingredient to success. If you are one of those players like me who is not one of
the kids who are “really talented” – this is my Christmas gift to you. Are you ready?

         You can make it to the NHL and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.

      You shouldn’t listen to people who tell you that you’ll never make it to the NHL and
here’s why. First, most people aren’t qualified to make that judgment. How many
NHL’ers have they seen coming through youth hockey? Do they know what a future
NHL’er looks like and could they tell one if they saw one? None of my coaches could
tell it about me - including my dad when he was my coach, my Midget coach, Juniors
coach, and my college coach.
      Second, even people who are great hockey minds and with a lot of hockey
experience can’t always tell who’s going to make it to the NHL. There are first round
draftees chosen by the NHL’s general managers and coaches who never play a game in
the NHL. There are also guys who get drafted very low who will be in the Hall of Fame
(like my friend Luc Robitaille) or big stars that never got drafted like Adam Oates.
      But the most important reason you shouldn’t listen to people who say you’ll never
play in the NHL is because the most important things you need to succeed (that is: hard
work and perseverance) are not things that can be seen or observed. They’re on the
inside; they’re part of your character. So the two most important factors in determining
whether you will make it to the NHL will not be apparent to the casual observer. No one
can tell how hard you are willing to work or how long you are willing to persevere. Only
you control that. And the great thing about hard work and perseverance is that they will
make you successful in whatever you choose to do after hockey as well.
      Some people argue that good players are born with exceptional talent. My father
believes I was born with exceptional talent. I disagree. I think I made it to the NHL
because I concentrated on the two things I could control: how hard I worked and how
long I was willing to work at it. Even if my father is right that some people are born with
exceptional talent, and you think you were not one of those people, remember: it takes
three things to succeed: talent, hard work, and perseverance. And the greatest of these
is not talent.

     “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do
      that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great.”
                                                                               Mark Twain

NEW HOCKEY CAMP BROCHURE (You can play hockey with a Mighty
      My father tells me the hockey camp brochure for next summer will be mailed in the
next few days. Every year he gets frantic calls from some parents in March that say they
didn’t get a brochure and by that time it’s too late to sign you up because the camp is full.
So if you want to come to camp again, you need to be sure your parents get the brochure,

preferably before June or July.
      If you’ve never been to my camp and want to come, email me with your name and
snail mail address and ask for a brochure and be reminded that the camp is typically full
by the end of February so you need to act early. Kids and adults come from all over the
country and I’ve heard that this year a player is coming from England. So be warned -
you snooze, you lose. You can also sign up on the web site.

   …comes as an answer to this question which I suspect a lot of families struggle with:
We are having a family Christmas next Dec. 17th. My son (an AA travel player) has a
recently scheduled game. Should he have the option to attend either the hockey game or
the family Christmas? Should it be his choice? Or should it be family first, followed by
hockey? It is not an option to change either date. It will be one or the other. A.M.
     Dear A.M. I can’t tell you what to do, but I can tell you how my father made
decisions like the one you're agonizing over. First, he would have weighed how
important the family get-together was. For us Christmas was a very big deal, not only for
its religious significance, but because of the importance we placed on extended family
relationships. He would have said that Christmas is the most important Holiday Day of
the year and the significance of a child's pastime pales by comparison. But if Christmas
in your family tradition is a holiday without a great deal of significance and the family
get together is a take it or leave it affair, you will see it differently than my father did and
the child's hockey game may be more important.
     He would have also considered the role the child played in the game. If it were my
goalie brother's game and no substitute goalie could be found, that would weigh more in
his decision than if the son playing was one of 12 forwards or seven defensemen. He
would also have considered the importance of the game. Was this the state finals?
    He would have also considered if the game was scheduled before or after the date for
the Christmas party was set. He held very little truck with last minute scheduling of
games, especially around the holidays. And was it one game in a season of 20 or 60.
    You can probably tell that there was an equal chance of a blizzard in May than my
playing hockey instead of going to the family celebration. For my father it was more
important for me to be in church on your average Sunday morning than at the ice rink!
   While my father's standards worked for him, they may not work for you and you may
well have different standards. It comes down to your family's values. What do you see
as more important to the well-being of the child and your family - the participation in this
game or in the extended family celebration of this holiday? Does the child expect his
relatives to come the days that are important to him (his graduation, confirmation, for
example) if he doesn't come to the days that are important to them? How do you value
family ties and the interaction of different generations?
     I'm often asked questions like this and I find it useful to remember what your
aspirations for the child were when he was born. At that time, what did you hope for the
child for Christmas... a hockey game or a Norman Rockwell painting of a family holiday
celebration. You see, I don't think this is a hockey decision, it's a family value decision.

   One last note: I am today who I am more because of the decisions my parents made
for my well-being than the ones they made for my hockey.

      As those of you who attend my hockey camp know, Todd Reirden (D-man for the
St. Louis Blues) re-injured his foot on the Saturday between the Day Camp and the
Travel Skills sessions of the camp and had to have extensive surgery. It was a more
serious injury than first thought but I’m pleased to tell you that he has been skating for
about four weeks now and has been re-assigned to Wooster of the AHL for rehabilitation.
I know you all join me in wishing Todd a speedy recovery.
      Todd’s situation is an outstanding example of why I harp, nag, insist, beg you pay
attention to your education. After several years of toiling in the minors, Todd finally got
his chance with the Blues and had a great season and a great one year contract, only to
suffer an off-season injury which has cost him the first half of the season and it remains
to be seen if he will be able to make a comeback.
      Todd has a degree in Marketing from Bowling Green and if the worst happens, he
has that to fall back on. The point is that you don’t always control your destiny. All too
often you don’t realize your dreams through no fault of your own. When that happens,
it’s good to have a fall back position and Todd has that. It’s another reason to work as
hard on your education as you do on your hockey. Or harder.

DAN’S HONOR ROLL - Those kids who understand one of the most
important things necessary to make it to the NHL:
     My congratulations to you. Great job kids. If you qualify, Email your name, age,
GPA (on a 4.0 scale A= 4.0, A- = 3.75, B+ = 3.25, B= 3.0, etc.- must be 3.50 or better),
or average overall grade improvement (must be at least one full grade over last year or
OGI), or Teacher Recommendation (TR) (must be Emailed directly to me by your teacher
and be based on outstanding achievement in a non-letter graded situation), school, team,
and state.
NAME              AGE GPA       SCHOOL                   TEAM                          STATE
Erin Cutter        10     4.0   Beach Elementary         Muskegon Chiefs Squirt AA       MI*
Travis Vayda       13     4.0   Bradon River Middle Sch Ellenton Eels PeeWee AA          FL*
Mark Janninga      10     3.96 St. Mary's School         Fredrickson Design Squirt       MI
Tyler Spiering    10      3.9   Sylvan Chr. School       E.G.A.R.H.A. Squirt AA          MI*
Ian Redlinger       9     4.0   Los Flores Elementary    Anaheim Jr. Ducks Squirt       CA*
Josh Corgan         8     3.5   N. Muskegon Elementary Muskegon Chiefs Mite B2          MI*
Aaron Alkema        6     TR    Kettle Lake Elementary   G.R.A.H.A. Mite                 MI*
Bennett Schneider 12      4.0   Canterbury School        Ellenton Eels PeeWee AA        FL
Daniel Monteforte 13      3.5   J.T. Lambert Middle Sch Lehigh Valley Thunder Bantam A PA
Sean LaDouce       10     3.97 Saginaw Sherwood Elem Bay City Blizzards Squirt AA        MI
Ryan Corgan        12     4.0   N. Muskegon Middle Sch Muskegon Chiefs PeeWee B4         MI*
Brian Okarski      15     4.0+ Florida High School       Palm Beach Panthers Bantam AAA FL
Matthew Rosenthal 9       3.75 Chaparrel Elementary      Calabasas Ice Dogs Squirts     CA*
Daniel Harris      11      3.5  Emerson Valley Middle    Milton Keynes Junior Kings    England
Adam VanOpstall 13        4.0   Calvin Christian Middle  Grandville Community Bantam     MI*
Jeremy Hopersberger 9     4.0   Home schooled            Flint Icelanders Squirt AAA     MI*
*Attendees of my hockey school.     (I hope all of you will be able to make this list)

    DAN: Radio Interview on the CBC “The World This Weekend” between 6 and 6:30
pm on Saturday Dec 16, with Jay and host Kevin MacKinnon.
    JAY: None except playing Santa at the Bylsma Family Christmas Gala.

     In the last issue I told you about one coach’s experience in playing against one of Ray
Ferraro’s sons. I used that experience to urge you to emphasize skill development in
practices as the Europeans do very successfully, rather than playing more games where
there is little if any skill development. On receiving the newsletter Ray wrote me a note
which read in part:
     “I appreciate that you noticed how much fun the boys had when we were on
the ice together. The only "rule" I have about the sports the boys are in is
that if the sport is no fun, play the year out then find something that you
truly enjoy playing. Hockey has to be fun if anyone is to learn and/or get
better.      Stress enjoyment in the drills, the kids probably won't realize that
they are working on their skills if they are having fun.”
     I reprint Ray’s response because his is a voice that I respect and his philosophy
closely parallels ours but more importantly for his last statement. “Stress enjoyment in
the drills, the kids probably won't realize that they are working on their skills if they are
having fun.” Right on, Ray.
     But isn’t that easier said than done? We don’t think so. At Dan’s hockey school, we
have skating drills that the kids beg to do and when they do them, they do them full out -
we think to great benefit. Here are two such drills:
     Tennis Ball Warfare. This is a skating drill which forces skaters to skate with their
head and chest up, work on starts, stops, and acceleration and it’s also a shooting drill. In
it’s simplest form, the coaches and/or a few players in the middle of the ice shoot tennis
balls at skaters racing from one end of the rink to the other. If a skater is hit, he goes to
the bench and the untouched skaters remain in the game.
     The details are that one coach or shooter (can be a player and then you’ve introduced
shooting into the drill as well) for each 5 or 6 skaters position themselves in the middle of
the ice with 9 – 12 tennis balls. Skaters line up behind one goal line and on the whistle
attempt to skate to the other goal line without being struck by a tennis ball shot by the
shooters. If a skater is hit, he goes to the bench. When all the skaters who have not been
hit reach the opposite goal line, let them catch their breath while the shooters collect the
tennis balls. The flight to the opposite goal line is repeated until the last skater gets hit.
     Then there’s the Pylon Relay Race. Divide the skaters evenly according to skill. Set
up two identical pylon courses with right turns, left turns, circles, stops, drops under
suspended sticks, etc.. Gauge the difficulty of the course depending on the skill level of
your players. To do it again while stickhandling a puck compounds the challenge
exponentially. If set up with an alternate return route, two skaters from each team or four
skaters at a time can participate. In relay races of this nature, the kids will go all out

without your urging because it’s the reason we play sports… to compete.
    Note that each of these drills if set up properly, will have about the same exertion/rest
ratios as playing, which will also train the lungs and legs for optimum exertion/recovery.
    The kids will be having a blast, go all out, beg to do it, and be sharpening their skills.
You will getting the maximum out of their workout without having them look to you as a
slave driver. As Ray says, “the kids probably won't realize that they are working on their
      As Dale Carnegie said, “People rarely succeed unless they are having fun at what
they are doing”.
    COACHING/PLAYER AIDS: We have produced a pamphlet/memo outlining how
we use videos to critique skating fundamentals at Dan’s Hockey Camp. Many kids and
parents think it’s one of the most helpful things we do for skaters. This pamphlet
describes the process, shows how to point out flaws in a player’s skating technique, and
has suggestions as to how to correct these flaws. It is available on the Learning Aids
page of the web site for $12.50 post paid. All the proceeds from the sale of this coaching
aid go to Dan’s Charitable Trust Fund.
    In addition, we have learned of a very good CD-ROM produced by Craig Simpson
(50 goal scorer in the NHL) and Ron Mason (winningest coach in college hockey) that is
an outstanding resource for teaching/learning skill fundamentals and explanations of
situational play. It is a remarkable production and well worth the $29.95 price. We have
put a more complete description and a screen from it on the Learning Aids page on the
web site and you can buy it there as well. The makers of it will contribute $10 to Dan’s
Charitable Trust Fund for every CD sold from our web site.
    Also, on the Links Page of the web site under Hockey Tips there is a reference to Dr.
Vern Stenlund’s Newsletter. It’s free and it contains a lot of sound philosophy and great
coaching tips as well as a drill of the month. We recommend it as another coaching aid/
learning resource.

 “If you want to make impressions in the sands of time, you better wear work boots.”

ABOUT ONE KID’S TRIP TO THE NHL—current installment
     I thought you might be interested in learning what life is like on the road for an
NHL’er. One of the parts of pro hockey that make the game a "job" is the travel. Out of
the 230 days that make up the pre-season and season, my wife figured out that I was on
the road for 86 days. It seems like a lot - it feels like even more when you're flying from
New York to L.A. at 3:30 in the morning. Now that I've made it seem like the travel is
the bad part of the game, let me tell you how good they treat us when we travel.
     On Dec. 4, we started a 3 game road trip that would last five days. The team usually
leaves the day before the first game of the trip so we can get into the city, have a good
meal, get a good nights sleep, and get acclimated to the time zone change. We drive our
cars to the Arrowhead Pond (our home rink) and a bus takes us to the airport. The bus
drives right onto the runway and right to the back of our charter plane. The plane is

divided into three parts - the front part with big first class seats that fold out into beds is
for the coaches and the staff. The second part has tables and couches and is used for
players who want to play cards. Playing cards helps the time pass so this is where I often
sit. The back part of the plane has first class seats with a TV for each pair of seats.
      Another bonus of having a charter plane is great food. Our choices range from
cheese and crackers, to fresh fruit, hot and cold sandwiches, even a hot dinner - all
catered onto the plane. All sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?
      When we arrive in a city we take a bus to the hotel, check-in and get settled into our
rooms. Everyone shares a room with another player; my roommate is Tony Hrkac. Then
it's time to grab some dinner. Usually, groups of players go out to dinner together,
sometimes the whole team goes together. Italian or steak restaurants seem to be the
favorite, but you can be certain that it'll be a fancy place. On this particular night, the
team has decided to take out the coaches, staff and players to a great steak house in
downtown St Louis. After dinner almost everybody hustles back to the hotel to either
watch a movie or just flip the channels of the TV.
      Dec. 5 is a game day. I grab a quick bagel and coffee and walk to the Kiel Center
where we'll have an 11:30 pre-game skate just to loosen up and get a feel for the game
that is now just 7 hours away. The coaches will have meetings with the power play
personnel, the penalty killers, and the whole team on what St. Louis does and what we're
going to try to do against them. Then it's back to the hotel for our pre-game meal. It's set
up by the team and always the same: soup, salad, pasta, chicken, fish, steak and ice cream
to finish it off. For most players it's off to bed to try and get some sleep before we head
to the rink for the game.
      We lost the game 1-0 to the Blues, but there's no rest for the wicked. Win or lose we
board a bus and we're off the airport. We have a game tomorrow against Columbus so we
travel tonight. We land in Columbus at 1:00 a.m. and are in our beds by 1:45, but we’re
too wound up from the game and flying so we watch some late night TV until about 3:30.
      Dec. 6. Luckily, Coach lets us sleep in ‘til our meeting at noon. We go over our
game plan vs. Columbus, have another team meal, then it's back to bed before we have to
go to the rink at about 4:30. We lose 5-2 - should have had a different plan or executed
the one we had better. Back on the bus and plane to fly to Minnesota yet that night.
      Dec 7. We have a day off before our next game against the Wild and the coach
decided that we needed some time away from the rink. So instead of practice, it
would be a whole day for the team to get out and spend some time together. We
all went to the Mall of America. After shopping and playing some pretty
cool video games we all went to see the movie Men of Honor and then off to a
team meal together. It felt like I was at Silver Sticks with a PeeWee team.
     The next morning we were back to the business of a pre-game skate,
meetings, a meal, nap and a big overtime victory against the Wild 1-0. Then
it was time to get on the plane, win at some cards, and go home to sleep in my
own bed. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it and I’m glad it’s me!
      This comes with our very best wishes for a very meaningful holiday season whatever
your faith tradition and a healthy and happy New Year full of good grades and lots of
goals (unless you’re a goalie) from my father and I, Mary Beth, Bryan and our extended
                                                                    Dan Bylsma #21

      So Your Son Wants to Play In The NHL Published in 1998 by Sleeping Bear Press
in the US and McClelland & Stewart in Canada. HC $24.95. The story of Dan’s journey
from the ice rink in our back yard to the NHL. Autographed and personalized copies
available at www.DanBylsma.com.
     So You Want to Play In The NHL Published in November, 2000, by NTC/Con-
temporary Publishing Group. Trade paperback—$14.95. Thirty-five questions that
aspiring young athletes have and Dan’s and Jay’s alternating answers. Forward by Luc
Robitaille. Autographed copies available at www.DanBylsma.com.
     Pitcher’s Hands is OUT To be published in February, 2001 by River Road
Publishing. HC and Trade paperback. A historical novel about what it was like to be a
kid living in the Great Depression. A baseball story.

                                   DAN’S ORGANIZATION
                                    West Michigan Hockey Camp, Inc.
                                                    P.O. Box 917
                                              Grand Haven, MI 49417
                                                 Fax: 616-846-0710
                                         Email: number21@DanBylsma.com

                                      DAN’S ON THE WEB
                                   AT WWW.DANBYLSMA.COM

      If you know of another player or his family who might enjoy Dan’s Newsletter “From the Right
Wing…”, feel free to forward the newsletter along. Coaches are welcome to send the names and Email
addresses of their entire team.

      If you are reading the Newsletter because someone passed it along and would like to receive the
Newsletter for yourself, E-mail your name to newsletter@DanBylsma.com.

      If you have a question you would like to ask Dan or Jay, E-mail your question to
questions@DanBylsma.com. You can see the questions asked and answered on the Q&A page on Dan’s
web site.

        “Remember… it takes three things to succeed: talent, hard work and
           perseverance. And the greatest of these is not talent.” JMB


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