Guy Landry

Guy Landry

I wanted to tell you that Guy has made a hockey move: he’s the coach of the Bantam “A” Blues here in Jonquière.

At the end of the summer, he asked the single-letter hockey association here if he could have a team. For my US readers, I should explain the hockey hierarchy. At the top are the triple “AAA’s”, then the double letters, “AA”, “BB” and “CC” and then the “A’s” and the “B’s”. The A’s and B’s are more similar to the “Gold” and “Silver” teams in the USA, or to house teams.

Anyways, initially the league said, “No.” There were enough willing coaches, tryouts would soon start and everything seemed to be set in stone for the 2015-16 season.

And then, as it usually does, something happened. He got a call.

The call came after the first tryout practice, and although he’d been there to watch, he hadn’t been there to evaluate. There would be 4 single letter teams this year representing Jonquière: two “A’s” and two “B’s”. Guy and a second coach would evaluate the players over three games, compile their “must-have” lists and then have a meeting to discuss their picks. Since both Guy’s son and the other coach’s son are playing hockey, it was a given that each of their sons would be on their respective teams.  For Guy, he would have picked Nic first for his team anyways, since during the tryouts, the forwards were impressive, but defensemen were weak. Nic plays right defence, can see the play developing and can play both ways.

I’ve seen teams, in the past, where the coach’s son or daughter has been picked because the league, or the club, thinks the head coach’s kid is a talented enough player to be on that particular level of team. That isn’t always the way it is, though. In this case, Nic is strong enough to be on the “A” team, and if you want to complain about it, I’ll gladly tell you to “Stick It“. BTW I love that GoDaddy ad, I buy all my domains from them. If you haven’t seen the ad, you can watch it below:

Making the choice wasn’t easy, though, and one of the biggest determinations Guy had was whether he could run 3 lines of forwards and 2 lines of defence or what the configuration would be. The league said he couldn’t have three lines of forwards, because that number would mess up the number of players available for the “B” teams. So Guy made a tough decision to run with only two lines because he wants his lines to develop chemistry he thinks can’t happen if an odd player or two is continually merged into a line. There was a good selection of talented kids between the pipes and the team snagged two impressive goaltenders.

Six forwards, four defensemen, two goalies: that’s the configuration for the team. This means that if any of our players get sick or need to be away for any reason, we’ll need to bring in an eligible replacement player from another team to fill that space.

Before the team was picked, one of the goalie’s parents came to Guy and introduced himself. He told Guy that he’d been a goalie coach for the Saguenéens, the Junior “A” team that plays out of the Georges Vézina Arena in the town next to our’s, Chicoutimi. He said that even if his son didn’t make it on the team, he’d be willing to help with the goalie coaching. Turns out, Guy picked his son for the Blues – and he would never have connected the dots as the son and the goalie coach don’t share the same last names!

Then Guy got on the phone to call two parents he knew to see if they’d be interested in helping out the team as coaches. Both said yes, and we’ll have 4 coaches to help out on the ice and that’s a great thing. Here’s why:

At the very first practice after the team was announced, Guy made them do a drill that he calls the Circle Point Screen. With that drill, Guy was able to see how the forwards were able to perform in front of the goal, and how the kids playing defence could catch a pass and either make a one-timer on net, or a controlled slapshot. After that drill, he saw that improvements were needed.

For the second practice, Guy split the players up after putting the players through a gruelling, timed suicide drill to improve their fitness levels. With only two lines, he knows they’ll need to be fit for all three periods, so the red-line-blue-line-blue-line-red-line back and forths are building strength and stamina.

For the split drills, however, the goalies were busy with the goalie coach working on movements, the defensemen worked on catching passes, one-timers and slapshots, shooting against the boards on passes that Guy initiated. The forwards were split up to work with one coach each, concentrating on winning their face-offs and trying to direct the puck to one of their players. All the kids were kept busy for the practice, and the coaches too.

We’ll see how it goes on Sunday: we have an exhibition match against the other Jonquière “A” team then. Guy is positive his team is already starting to gel.