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FALL 2015

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PUBLISHER’S MESSAGE OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT: With help from a hockey legend, kids get ready to take their first shift


SOUTH WEST ZONE: Leads the way in Hockey Edmonton




EDMONTON OILERS: 2020 Stanley Cup Champions By Rob Suggitt


BRIAN MCDAVID: A Dad’s Take on Raising a Hockey Star, and a Great Kid


SAM STEEL: Memory of Big Brother Pushes Steel in Hockey Success By Jeremy Freeborn


BETTY CHMILAR: Hockey Volunteer Extraordinaire By Maurice Tougas

PAUL COFFEY: Recognition Continues for Elite Oilers Defenseman By Jeremy Freeborn

By D.T. Baker


TYLER BENSON: Working Toward a Strong Second Season with the Giants By Jeremy Freeborn

By Shari Narine


SEERA LIGHTNING: Young coaches, teens find common ground By Maurice Tougas

By Maurice Tougas


[Fall Issue 2015]

10 12 14 18 21 26 28 30 40 42



Table of Contents









By Rob Suggitt

By Kelsey Spohn

Early morning assist.

Š Tim Hortons, 2012

Message From Hockey Edmonton 10618- 124 St., Edmonton, AB T5N 1S3 Ph: (780) 413-3498 • Fax: (780) 440-6475

To contact any of the Executive or Standing Committees, please visit our website

Board of Directors Executive

President: Mark Doram Past President: Betty Chmilar VP Admin: LeAnna Murtha-Toles Director of Community Hockey: Betty Chmilar (Acting) Director of Elite Hockey: Will Jang Director at Large: Ed Croken Director at Large: Bruce Howlett


Knights of Columbus EFHC: Steve Pinch NE District: Darlene Hein NW District: George Davidson SE District: Gerald Kruhlak SW District: Chris March EGHA: Rob Reid CAC: Doug Stoker MLAC: Rob Lindsay SSAC: Ted Boomer Knights of Columbus AA: Bruce Fitzpatrick Junior B: George Metez Junior C: Chris Hurley

Hockey Alberta Committees

Discipline and Sanctioning Coordinator: Sharlene Cook Minor Administration Coordinator: Glenn Sommerville Minor Regulations Committee: Betty Chmilar Operations Advisory Committee: Dean Hengel

Standing Committees

Hockey Edmonton Alumni President: Orest Zaozirny Ice Allocation: Bernie Coderre Ice Management: Pat Elliott Minor Hockey Week: Darrell Davis School Hockey: Jason Stewart EOCF 50-50: Sandra Gaeckle Provincial Championships: Livia Paradis & Richard Makarowski Referee Representatives: Herman Costa (Elite) & Duncan MacDougall (EFHL)

League Directors

Edmonton Federation Hockey League Midget: Terry Fulmer Pee Wee: Crystal Feader Atom: David Onyschuk Novice: Amy & Pat London

Elite Hockey

Bantam AAA: Ed Croken Bantam AA: Russ Lukawesky Major Midget AAA: Bob Olynyk Minor Midget AAA: Carrie Aldridge Midget AA: Tracy Orbel Rem 15 Midget AA: Mike Hennessey

Quikcard Edmonton Minor Hockey Week Committee

Chair: Darrell Davis Central: Bill Ross Committee: Jeff Suess | Dan Osborn | Deb Bykowski, Doug Kirillo | Brenda Neville Active Past Chairpersons: Joan Kirillo | Rod McMahon Terry Brown | Marvin Babiuk | Bill Renshaw


Executive Director: Dean Hengel Minor Administration Coordinator: Glenn Sommerville Administrator: Loree Dawson Manager of Ice Operations: Dave Linman Ice Coordinator: Ray Vigneau

Welcome Back Everyone! Working together we continue to strive to improve our programs that provide outstanding sport and life experiences for the nearly 9,000 children and youth who register with Hockey Edmonton. Our mission is to provide through excellent integrated partnerships, strong leadership, and engaged member organizations, developmental programs and competitive opportunities that encourage and inspire holistic development of all members. With our new bylaws and operating directives, you will notice the movement to a governance mode as opposed to the heavy operational focus previously identified with both Hockey Edmonton and the Edmonton Federation Hockey Council. 2015-16 will be a transitional year with lots of work going into procedures and structural adjustments. Until Hockey Edmonton ratifies the appointment of a director, community hockey, Betty Chmilar will serve as the interim chair of EFHL. EFHL is an internal league within Hockey Edmonton that has developed due to an outstanding cooperative model. Hockey Edmonton’s role is to govern, EFHL’s role is to implement league play for Hockey Edmonton teams and those of our Interlock partners. A league constitution is in development along with league specific operating directives. Hockey Edmonton would like to see an increase in focus on development – association, board, coach, player – over the upcoming season and believe efforts in this area will have a dramatic impact on satisfaction measures such as player retention and players excited by and looking forward to playing at higher tiers / categories of play in future seasons. We have a number of initiatives that members will be able to partake in. In 2015-16 and onward, the Hockey Edmonton Good of the Game program will be overseen by the Hockey Edmonton discipline committee; working closely with all partners – clubs, districts, operating areas and interlock LMHA’s. The Hockey Edmonton ice management committee has spent countless hours meeting over the summer to ensure we are ready for the new season. New playoff formats in EFHL will provide all participants with more guaranteed playoff games. Hockey Edmonton is excited to be working once again with ENMAX. We enter year three of our relationship with ENMAX as a major sponsor. Once again they have significant involvement in the novice division, title sponsor of the ENMAX Hockey Edmonton Championships, and involvement in development initiatives and association tournaments. As part of our continuous improvement process we will continue work in 201516 with our player movement and boundary review committees. Once again this season, Hockey Edmonton will continue our Every Kid Every Community, Discover and Try Hockey programs; these provide opportunities for those that have never played the game to discover the sport that we all love. Additionally, we’re very pleased to have been selected by Hockey Canada to host two more sessions of the First Shift program sponsored by Bauer Hockey. The S4 program and Stollery Family Day Classic will be entering into their fifth season. Save the dates – January 8 to 17, 2016 – for Quikcard Edmonton Minor Hockey Week! Participants of all ages are sure to experience another memorable event thanks in great part to the hard work of Darrell Davis and his committee. As you can see, we have lots of activity on our agenda and can always use the assistance of another great community volunteer. If you are interested in a volunteer role with Hockey Edmonton please contact the office.

We look forward to another great season of hockey!


Mark Doram President, Hockey Edmonton


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Publisher’s Message Welcome back to another hockey season! In this issue of the magazine, we have a special article on the First Shift program, which was launched by Hockey Canada and Bauer to address concerns or reasons why parents do not enroll their kids in hockey. Some of these reasons include cost, assessibility, time commitment and safety concerns and this program aims to overcome these perceived boundaries. While increasing enrollment at the early ages/levels is a goal of most minor hockey associations, keeping kids involved in hockey through until bantam and midget, also gets a strong push. Last season, a group of young men decided to give back to minor hockey, stepping forward to coach a SEERA midget hockey team. Four 21-year-old coaches ended up bringing great success to a hockey team filled with players only five or six years younger than the coaches. What a great story! Greatness comes in many forms, and not always on the ice. Minor hockey would not exist without the huge commitment of volunteers, whether it’s coaches, team managers, or administrators. Hockey Edmonton’s past president Betty Chmilar is one of those special volunteers who has given so much to the minor hockey community, and it is our pleasure to include an article which commemorates her accomplishments and achievements. With the help of Scott Smith, from React Hockey Development (and Power Edge Pro), we scored a bit of a coup, gaining a one-on-one interview with Brian McDavid, the famous father of a famous NHL hockey player. The McDavids have been involved with Power Edge Pro for a number of years, and our writer (D.T. Baker) sat down for a chat with the elder McDavid as he was in town for a Power Edge Pro Clinic. (And at the same time, to see his son play his first NHL preseason game.) Finishing up, we would like to draw attention to a mainstay in the magazine – our “Spotlight on an Official” feature which graces the last pages of the magazine. We started this feature 14 years ago, and to date, over 40 young officials have been highlighted. We think it’s important to take the helmets off these young participants in the game, so that parents, coaches and fans are reminded that officials are similar in age to the kids who play the game. Players make mistakes, and so do officials, but positive encouragement goes a long way to keep our kids involved in this great sport!

Until next time, we wish everyone all the best this hockey season!

Credits President and Publisher // Rob Suggitt Art Director // Christine Kucher Graphic Designers Cailey Buxton // Katelyn Suggitt Contributing Writers D.T Baker // Jeremy Freeborn // Kelsey Spohn Maurice Tougas // Rob Suggitt // Shari Narine Cover Photo Provided by Bauer First Shift Program Copy Editing Shari Narine Photography Credits CJ Relke - Vancouver Giants Andy Devlin - Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club Hockey Canada Images Keith Hershmiller - Regina Pats Oilers Entertainment Group SC Parker Photography Sales Associates Kerri Anderson // Lynn Schuster Administration Amber Grmek The Hockey Magazine is a product of Playhouse Publications Ltd. - an affiliate of Suggitt Ltd.

President & CEO // Tom Suggitt President & CFO // Rob Suggitt 10177 - 105 Street, Edmonton AB T5J 1E2 Ph: 780.423.5834 // Fax: 780.413.6185 Playhouse Publications Ltd. also publishes the Citadel Theatre Playbill, Edmonton Opera Playbill, Arden Theatre Playbill, The Fringe Theatre Adventures Arts at the Barns Magazine and the Calgary Opera Program. All Rights Reserved. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expresses within do not nessesarily represent the opnions of the publisher or Hockey Edmonton. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publisher - Printed By R.R. Donnelley


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Rob Suggitt Publisher,

Hockey Edmonton Magazine





FOOT With help from a hockey legend, kids get ready to take their First Shift [By Maurice Tougas] According to Edmonton Oilers and Hockey Hall of Fame icon

Mark Messier, nobody remembers their first step, but everybody remembers their first hockey shift. Does Messier? “I sure do,” the hockey legend told Hockey Edmonton. “I remember my first shift pro, and I remember my first shift in Portland, Oregon, when my father was playing hockey there.” The Edmonton-born Messier, who at age 54 looks fit enough to still play, was the star attraction Oct. 1 at the welcome event for The First Shift, an innovative program from Hockey Canada and Bauer Hockey. Meeting a hockey legend was likely the highlight for dozens of parents in attendance, but for the kids — most of who were born after Messier retired — the real thrill was being outfitted in new hockey equipment.


The 45 kids selected for The First Shift gathered at the Central Lions Senior Citizens Centre to get outfitted from helmet to skates in brand new Bauer hockey gear. From there, the youngsters were scheduled for six on-ice sessions in October and November to learn the basics of the game. The First Shift is a program that hopes to overcome the barriers to hockey entry. In the motherland of hockey, a mere 10 per cent of Canadian kids play the game, and the number is not rising. The First Shift hopes to stem the slow slide in hockey enrollment by making it easy for first-time young players to dip a toe into the hockey pool without the massive commitment in time and money. The reasons for the problems with hockey numbers are many — cost, accessibility, time commitment, and safety concerns are four of the main reasons. But another less publicized reason, a survey by

Bauer found, was that parents were worried that after signing up for months of hockey and investing hundreds of dollars into equipment, that their child might not like the game, leaving the parents poorer in pocket and with a closet full of barely used hockey equipment. The First Shift aims to overcome all of those boundaries. The First Shift has a goal of introducing hockey to one million new players around the world in 10 years. It was tested under the name The Big Assist in four communities. The pilot project saw 275 kids participate, enough to roll out the program nationwide as The First Shift. The first numbers were encouraging — 77 per cent of those who participated signed up for hockey after The First Shift. One of those kids is Zach Russell, 10, who participated in The First Shift when it made its debut in Edmonton last year. His mother, Jennifer, was in attendance at the welcome event, this time with daughter, Lily, 8.

Zach is now playing on his first sports team, and Jennifer says he is “very dedicated. He just gives it his all. He never showed this much interest in anything before The First Shift program.” She says the value is “incredible”, which is hard to argue. Here’s how it works. Parents or guardians of would-be hockey players — boys or girls ages 6-10 who are not currently enrolled in hockey — sign up via If accepted, the player gets expert fitting in new Bauer equipment, and six on-ice sessions. The enrolment fee is only $199. During the opening session, Messier demonstrated the basics of hockey gear, something that is second nature to experienced hockey players but perhaps a bit bewildering to newcomers to the game. From there, every child went to different stations to get expertly geared up for the game — helmet, pads, skates, stick, the works. Messier is impressed by the quality of equipment available to kids today, several steps improved from when he was the same age.

I love the game and I want to see as many kids as I can get enjoy the game as well. “My son went through The First Shift program last year, and he loved it,” said Russell. “He’s now in hockey, so my daughter wanted to try it out, too.” She says neither of her children would have gotten involved in hockey had it not been for The First Shift. Her reasons echo the problems identified by the Bauer survey. “It’s mostly the cost, and you don’t know if the kid is going to have a huge interest in it. It’s really nice to get their feet wet.”

“It’s so much more comfortable, so pliable, much more protective. The technology in equipment has come such a long way that it’s not cumbersome at all.” Messier enjoys being an ambassador for the game that has done so much for him. “I really enjoy seeing these new families come out that are not familiar with hockey. It’s important for the parents to feel welcome and get a great first experience. It goes a long way to making sure the kid enjoys the game of hockey,” he said.

“I love the game and I want to see as many kids as I can get enjoy the game as well.” Messier patiently signed every First Shift jersey, including Lily Russell’s. Not surprisingly, little Lily was not particularly impressed to meet Messier and get his autograph. But that wasn’t the case with mom Jennifer. “I sure was,” she laughs. “I told her, ‘Trust me, you want that autograph.’ ”



WEST ZONE leads way in

HOCKEY EDMONTON [By Shari Narine] Photos Provided by SWZ Hockey

A desire to implement an all-encompassing program that

means developing the best athletes possible has resulted in the Southwest Zone and its operating area partners, SWAT and Confederation hockey clubs, providing skills-appropriate training from the lowest tiers to the highest tiers. It’s a change in philosophy, says SWAT president Paul Raimundo, who notes that in the past when extra ice time was available for practice or skills training it always went to the upper tiers. The result was a loss of interest in the lower tiered skaters and their parents. “This allows for further development and touches the broader base of all the kids playing,” said Raimundo. Teams are divided among three streams: representative (the top tiered teams), competitive (tiers 4 to 6), and recreational (tiers 7 and 8) and each stream will have specific development programming to meet their needs. The change to long term athlete development is in keeping with the goals of both Hockey Alberta and Hockey Edmonton, says Chris March, Southwest Zone president. That change has also been realized with SWZ dressing four more elite peewee teams this season.


“What we’ve found is when kids are pushed, they tend to develop at a more accelerated pace,” said March. Last season, SWZ dressed two tier 1 peewee teams. This year, that number has increased to an additional tier 1 team and three teams in tier 2. SWAT skaters make up two teams in each of the top two tiers, while Confed fields one team at each level. “The additional teams are not as big a jump as people may think,” said March. Last season, both SWAT and Confed had tier 2 peewee teams and SWAT’s tier 3 team moved up a tier. “We’ve consolidated everything at the Southwest Zone level to share the same programs. One of the reasons for doing that was basically economies of scale for us,” said March. The SWZ controls midget, bantam and the top two tiers for peewee, and works with SWAT and Confed for initiation, novice, atom and tiers 3 through 8 for peewee. The number of higher tiered peewee teams is also in keeping with Hockey Edmonton’s decision this spring to have a set number of teams in each tier depending on the hockey club’s registration numbers as set out by Hockey Alberta.

With this in mind, SWAT is dressing two teams in atom and novice tier 1 while Confed is dressing one team in each age group. Both the Northwest Zone and St. Albert will be dressing three peewee tier 1 teams like the SWZ this season. Will Carry, president of Confederation Hockey Club, says there is no doubt the new system will develop high quality hockey players that make the midget and bantam A and AA teams more competitive. However, concern has been voiced that there might not be enough high calibre, committed players to form six top tiered teams and the pressure of evaluation at still a relatively young age (11 and 12 years old) may not be good. Already he knows of boys, who were selected to the tier 2 team, but dropped down to play tier 3 because of the time commitment. “Creating three equal teams in each tier is not an easy job,” said Carry. Hockey Edmonton has set the tier 1 teams for the season, although the tier 2 teams could be moved down a tier if necessary.

“Anytime when you’re launching something new or changing something, we understand it’s not set in stone, that we have to be a little bit fluid with it. We don’t have all the answers,” said March. “If changes need to be made during the season we’ll do what’s practical and reasonable and then we’ll re-evaluate at the end of the season.” Next year, the plan is to add three tier 1 and 2 teams at the atom level. Presently both SWAT and Confed operate the higher tiered atom teams. The ultimate goal, says March, is for SWZ to operate tiers 1 through 3. The program change has been a couple of years in the making, March says, so when Hockey Edmonton in the spring voted to set team numbers for peewee tier 2, SWZ, Confed and SWAT led the change. “We are absolutely in favour of sharing our knowledge of what we learn this year because if it is something that works, the more zones we can get doing it, the better all players will be,” said March.

players register at: to apply for coaching: 780 297 2749

[Photos courtesy of SC Parker Photography]

Brian McDavid: A dad's take on raising a hockey star, and a great kid [By D.T. Baker]

You hear so many stories about parents who are – you know – ‘You only got two goals, you shoulda had four.’ Come on. I mean, as parents, we’re all emotionally attached to our children, and you have to understand they are just kids, too. They’re only going to be young once, and I look back now and I go, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe how fast the time has passed by.’ And for the most part, we had tons of fun. We got to meet really nice people, we got to travel a little bit, and so from the parent-perspective, it was a lot of fun. Just enjoy the experience.


That’s pretty sage advice, and doubtless summarizes

the thoughts of millions of hockey parents out there. So does it come with any more credence because these words were said by Brian McDavid? In town in the last days of September to help launch the Power Edge Program in Edmonton – and also to see his much-heralded younger son in an Oiler uniform for the first time (they beat Phoenix in an exhibition game September 29), Brian McDavid sat down to talk, not only about having helped nurture one of the most promising young stars the game has produced in years, but to put that process into the perspective of having been, like so many of us, a hockey parent. “I was going to walk him onto the ice, and he shook off my hand and skated away – he was three years old,” he recalled of Connor’s prodigious start. “And of course you think, ‘Well, you never know,’ right? “I guess I really had some sense about things was when he started to play – even when he was four, maybe he was five

– he was playing five on five games. But you know how the pack mentality kind of floats around the ice, and wherever the puck is, generally there’s 10 guys? Well, there would be nine guys, and Connor standing outside the pack of players, and the puck would squirt out, because it always did, and he would take it and off he went. So I thought, ‘Well, that’s a little different – where did he learn that?’” The history of Connor’s rise through the hockey ranks is well documented. One of only four players to receive the “exceptional player” exemption which allowed him to start junior hockey a year early, Connor was coached through much of his early hockey experience by his father – which had an up side as well as a down side, Brian feels. “I always tried to impart upon him that he was in some ways fortunate, and in some ways not fortunate that his father was coach,” he said. “The unfortunate things were that you’re never going to get to be the captain. And because you get the benefit of your dad being the coach – if there is any benefit to that – you may not play as much as you would if another person was coaching, if you’re one of the better players, because of the politics of parents and all of that sort of stuff. But for me, to coach was a real gift – and I don’t mean gift to say that I had a gift for coaching. It was a gift for me to be with my son, and for me to give back to the game that I loved from a child. That was the motivation to coach beyond anything else. I felt I could add value as well, I thought I could do a good job being a coach.” Perhaps the most telling thing about Brian McDavid’s words, which resonate with everyone who has ever coached their child, is that while it may sound like a great gig to have nurtured one of the most phenomenally gifted young players, it was equally rewarding to have coached Connor’s brother, too.

“I ended up coaching Connor longer than I coached Cameron,” Brian noted, “but the experiences were equally fulfilling. It was just great to be with my boys. I will tell you among the things I love to do more than anything else – and we used to love doing this as kids – is going to play hockey outside. We’d go and play on the weekend, because they’d wait for me till I got home from work, then they’d have my stuff ready and say, ‘Come on, dad, go get changed,’ and go play on the local pond. As I got older, I had friends of mine that I’ve played hockey with for over 20 years, we’d have a skate Sunday morning. And when the kids were younger, they used to come out and we’d get to the ice early and it would be our time together. And then when they got a little bit older, they’d be able to play with us too, if they didn’t have a game. And that was just unbelievable pride and joy, to sit on the bench with my two boys. It was fantastic.” As Connor McDavid’s promise became impossible to ignore, Brian’s role in his son’s development changed. He got some advice along the way. “Jason Spezza actually played as a 15-year-old as well, before the (exceptional status) rule was in place. We talked to (Jason’s father) as we were going through the process to determine the application for exceptional status. We arranged a meeting with him, and he was just a really good guy, and some of the advice he said was, ‘You’re going to have to stop reading the papers, because people will want to build him up, and tear him down – and it’s really tough as a parent to read that stuff.’ ” It’s Brian McDavid’s turn to be the one offering advice now, and that’s what elicited the comments at this article’s beginning. “Everybody wants their kid to be a star player – they’re not all going to be star players,” said the father of Connor – and Cameron. “But they all have a role, they all fit in, and just try to make sure they enjoy the experience.”


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orn] b e e r F y m [By Jere

On Nov. 9, 2011, the life of elite hockey prospect Sam Steel changed forever. His brother Patrick died in his sleep of heart failure. Patrick had just started his season with the Canmore Eagles of the Alberta Junior Hockey League and moved to Canmore from Sherwood Park with the hope of getting a hockey scholarship. According to Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun, a major reason for Sam’s motivation to succeed in hockey is in memory of Patrick, who bragged about Sam’s abilities every chance he had.

Today, there is no doubt that Patrick Steel would be ecstatic about his

brother’s skills. In recent years, Sam Steel has quickly moved his way up the hockey ladder and is a player National Hockey League scouts are keeping a close eye on. Steel, who plays for the Regina Pats, is eligible to be drafted in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, and is currently a first round projection. In August, Steel was part of the Canadian National under-18 team of the 2015 Summer Showcase in Calgary. It was there I had the opportunity to catch up with him. Like many young Alberta players, Sam played hockey because he was introduced to the sport by his family. “My brother played. My dad played. I am pretty sure his dad played. I loved it from a very early age. I was always playing on the outdoor rink with my brother and father. Having them teach me and looking up to them always brings back great memories.” The game of hockey meant something to his brother, says Steel. “It was very important. He is a huge part of getting me to where I am today. He was a role model and a motivator.” Steel played in Strathcona up until bantam where he played for the Strathcona Warriors Bantam AA team in the 2010-11 season in the Edmonton Rural Bantam Hockey League. He played the next three seasons in Sherwood Park—with the Sherwood Park Flyers of the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League, the Sherwood Park Squires Minor Midget team of the Alberta Midget Minor Hockey League, the Sherwood Park Kings Midget AAA team of the Alberta Midget Hockey League, and the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.


“Every year you make great friends with players you meet. Winning championships are always great memories. It is great for building friendships.” Steel was then drafted behind Benson, second overall in the 2013 Western Hockey League Bantam Draft. Steel feels fortunate to be part of the Regina Pats organization. In his rookie season in 201415, he had 17 goals and 37 assists for 54 points in 61 games. In 2012-13, Steel had an outstanding season with the Sherwood Park Flyers Bantam AAA team. In only 31 games, he notched 52 goals and 52 assists for 104 points. He was second in AMBHL scoring, behind only Tyler Benson of the South Side Athletic Club Southgate Lions. Steel knows he will be compared frequently throughout the rest of his hockey career to Benson, and has high praise for Benson’s hockey abilities. “He’s a great player. He’s always been a great player. He has tremendous talent. He’s a really nice guy off the ice as well and I think that will go a long way for him.”

“To be able to go to such an amazing organization, with such a great history like the Regina Pats, is an absolute honour. I couldn’t be happier playing there. It is a great organization.”

I was always playing on the outdoor rink with my brother and father. Having them teach me and looking up to them always brings back great memories. The Pats, in fact, are the oldest junior hockey franchise in the world. Established in 1917, the Pats were originally known as the Regina Patricia. They got their name from Princess Patricia, who was the granddaughter of Queen Victoria. Princess Patricia also had a Canadian connection because her name was used in honour of the Canadian Light Infantry Regiment, which was formed in World War I. The Pats have won four Memorial Cups in their franchise history—in 1925, 1928 (as the Monarchs), 1930 and 1974. Steel was unable to finish the 2014-15 WHL season with the Pats, suffering a high ankle sprain against the Prince Albert Raiders on March 10. The ankle is now 100 per cent and should not be a problem once the season starts. “It’s good. It feels really good. I am forgetting about it now. That’s always a sign that it is getting a lot stronger. I would say it’s ready to go.”

In April of 2013, Steel experienced the highlight of his minor hockey career when he helped Team Northeast win the Alberta Cup in Strathmore. In only five games, Steel had a tournament leading 15 points (six goals and nine assists). In the championship final, a 6-3 Northeast victory over Calgary North, Steel scored twice and was named the player of the game. Steel thoroughly enjoyed his time playing minor hockey in the Edmonton region.

Last season in Regina, Steel was coached by veteran John Paddock, who has five years of NHL experience with the Winnipeg Jets and the Ottawa Senators. “I’ve learned so much. He is an unbelievable coach. He has been around the game for such a long time (drafted by the Washington Capitals in 1974). He’s the kind of guy that you really want to listen to. He knows what he is talking about. It has been an honour to play in front of such a great coaching staff.”


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“It is very humbling. I still have a long way to go. There are a lot of players from Sherwood Park who play in the NHL. That’s my goal. If I ever get to that point, it would be unbelievable.”

Steel has also had the opportunity to represent Canada internationally at the 2014 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge in Sarnia, Ont. Steel played for Team Black and had one goal and two assists for three points in five games.

Steel thinks his strength on the ice is his overall offensive skill, specifically his ability to pass the puck and capitalize on opportunities that are given to him. But being his draft year, Steel knows he still needs to get stronger.

“I learned so much. It was good to see how good the players are across the globe and how tough the competition is. It was a great experience. It is really special to put on that Canadian jersey.”

“My strength and my shot are the two things I have been working at. I’m a little smaller (currently listed at 5’11”, 165 pounds) so I am trying to get some size and strength.”

Then at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup, Steel was on the Canadian roster that won a gold medal in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Bratislava, Slovakia. In five games, Steel had one goal and two assists for three points. The hamlet of Sherwood Park has a strong history of players that have gone on to skate in the National Hockey League. Those include Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward, former Vancouver Canucks defenseman Gerald Diduck, former Calgary Flames centre Daymond Langkow, and former St. Louis Blues left winger Tyson Nash. When asked if he could be the best ever player in the NHL from Sherwood Park, Steel was modestly subdued.

I still have a long way to go. There are a lot of players from Sherwood Park who play in the NHL. That’s my goal. If I ever get to that point, it would be unbelievable.

Steel believes he has a lot of work to do before he is considered a first round selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. He also knows a lot can happen over a period of a season. The one thing Steel says he would like scouts to know about him is that he believes it is important to “play the game right, and be a good person on and off the ice.” It is clear that Steel shows professionalism well beyond his years. Time will tell how much he will succeed at hockey’s highest levels.

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BETTY CHMILAR Hockey Volunteer Extraordinaire [ By MAURICE TOUGAS ]}

A few years back when Betty Chmilar was preparing a speech to give

to an award winner, she came upon a quote from Winston Churchill that encapsulates her attitude towards volunteering. “We make a living by what we do,” Britain’s WWII leader wrote, “but we make a life by what we give.” That pretty well sums up Betty Chmilar’s feelings about her remarkable three decades of volunteering for hockey and other amateur sports in Edmonton. “It has always been in my heart to help, support, assist and give my time when I could,” she said. And she has always found the time — after 30 years of helping out, she’s still spending up to eight hours a day doing volunteer duty for hockey in Edmonton. “If I thought about how much time I’ve spent volunteering,” she said with a chuckle, “I’d probably end up in a psychiatric ward.” Current Hockey Edmonton president Mark Doram credits Chmilar with being one of the driving forces behind Hockey Edmonton. “There are volunteers, and then there are volunteers,” says Doram. “Betty has played such a big part in Hockey Edmonton. She has been a wealth of knowledge and history for me and our whole board as we make major decisions, frequently calling on her guidance and knowledge.” “Betty has been very instrumental in the start of our metamorphosis at Hockey Edmonton.  We see new programs, and a new governance model thanks to the work of Betty Chmilar. I'm also proud to call Betty a great mentor and a good friend.” Betty started volunteering in 1984, and like most volunteers, she did it for her kids. “My kids started participating in sport and I followed them up the ranks. I love kids and sport, and in another world before kids I was a registered nurse, so giving and supporting is a part of who I am. I was thankful that my husband and my family supported me through it all.” She started volunteering in the Caernarvon community in 1984 as softball director, eventually becoming registrar for the area. While at Caernarvon she sat on to the Castledowns Recreation Society that helped develop and build the Castledowns Arena. She joined the Hawks Athletic Club in 1984 and continued in various positions — conditioning camp coordinator, bingo director, registrar — until 1998. She assisted in instituting a central registration process within the northwest district. Later as registrar with EMHA, she was the lead in a pilot project with Hockey Canada that led to the current Hockey Canada registry. In 1992, she joined the Canadian Athletic Club filling various roles (she even found time to manage her son’s bantam A team). The CAC recognized her 30year commitment this past season. In 1998 she took on the daunting task of EMHA registrar. “I have been extremely fortunate to work with some great people who have all contributed to developing a registration program that has decreased the workload of these special volunteers, and has taken EMHA and Hockey Canada into the online registration program now known as Hockey Canada registry.”

Through the years I have seen some excellent people who are there because of their love for hockey, and we would not be where we are without them.

The Edmonton Minor Hockey Council recognized her efforts in 1999 at the EMHA banquet with the Volunteer of the Year Award. In 2003, she was awarded a Hockey Alberta meritorious service award for outstanding service to Hockey Alberta; a Hockey Alberta Minor Hockey Award followed in 2005. She is a past-president of Hockey Edmonton, and is serving her seventh term as Hockey Alberta Zone 8 minor council manager of operations. This past season, she was recognized by Hockey Canada and Canadian Tire with a ‘Hero Of Play’ award. And she did it all for the kids and for hockey. “If you give kids the tools to play, they show an interest in sports, and you support them, they will go far. Through the years I have seen some excellent people who are there because of their love for hockey, and we would not be where we are without them.” Volunteering takes time, and the financial returns are non-existent. But there are other rewards, Betty says. “The people are awesome and there are numerous rewards — you feel like you have made a difference. I was fortunate my husband (Len, a long-haul trucker) supported me in my endeavours; if he had not, it may have been a different life.” There have been plenty of highlights — she dropped the puck at the start of a World Juniors game here — but “assisting with making the game fun and fair to each and every child” is as good as any tangible reward.

In a world where most of us are pressed for time just to get through the day’s activities, how does Betty find time for tens of thousands of hours of volunteer time? Typically, she deflects attention from herself, crediting her husband being a “good provider” so she could do self-employed work and find time for her myriad of volunteer duties. Her three kids, who “mean everything” to her, have not surprisingly all been involved with hockey. Marc has coached, assisted with BAAA and MAAA, Curtis played and provides support with computer technology, and daughter Breanne has worked for CAC as a Zamboni driver for 16 years. It’s people like Betty who keep minor hockey humming and unfortunately that kind of person is hard to find these days. “We need all sorts of people,” she said of the myriad of volunteer positions sitting idle. For example, she says there hasn’t been a bantam director for three years. She encourages people to try to tailor their skill sets to volunteer positions; she says a physical education student can help out in the conditioning aspect of hockey. And for anyone who is considering volunteering, she has simple words of advice. “Always, always keep the kids in the forefront. Never forget why we are all here.”





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Young Coaches,

L to R: Kyle Holowaychuk, Eric Bracke, Chris Cousens, Rhyan Drummond

teens find common ground.

SEERA team scores with 21 year old coaching crews [By MAURICE TOUGAS]

Will a team of 15- year-old boys respond to coaches who aren’t a whole lot older than they are?

That was the question that hung over South East Edmonton Recreation Association midget team, the Lightning, last season. A 20-0 regular season, a near miss in the playoffs in a higher division, and a happy group of parents and players provided the definitive answer. The idea for the Lightning struck last summer, when a group of hockey loving friends, all 21, tossed around the idea of coaching together. “We were all sitting around last summer, talking about how much fun it would be to coach,” recalls Chris Cousens, one of the coaching quartet. “We thought why don’t we give it a go?” Cousens and his buddies - Kyle Holowaychuck, Eric Bracke and Rhyan Drummond - were all former or present players, all in post-secondary, and all 21-years old. They zeroed in on coaching a midget team, which encompasses the 15-17 year old age group. They approached SEERA, which was enthusiastic about the idea. “They love to get new young coaches involved,” says Cousens. They deliberately chose to form a team of 15-year olds, which they felt was the ideal age in the midget category. The coaches wanted to get a group together that would make hockey their top recreational priority, away from the wider world of temptations that can distract a young man of 17. The players, Cousens says, were very excited to have a group of coaches who were so close in age that they were practically peers. The players have a lot more in common with 21-year-old coaches that with the traditional coaching staff of dads. In many ways, they spoke the same language, and that helped to get the coaching lessons across. Turns out, Cousens says, teens seem to be more willing to listen to a 21-year-old’s advice than his dad’s advice - even if they’re saying the same thing. The coaches, Cousens admits, were

concerned that they might run into some problems with the parents, but that never materialized. The fact that they “got lucky” and started winning right out of the gate helped to allay any fears the parents might have had. “We won at the start of the year, so the players were happy and the parents were happy. It gave us time to bond with the parents as well as the players. Nothing happened that allowed the parents to not like us. “We didn’t want to give anyone the idea that they made the wrong decision picking us.” The coaches put the emphasis on teamwork, rolling the bench to give everyone equal playing time, in whatever situation arose. There were no power play or penalty kill players - if it was your turn to play, you played, regardless of the circumstance. “Everyone enjoys winning, and everyone enjoys winning when there is a total team effort.” he says. The players responded with enthusiasm. “I could call players at nine o’clock for a practice the next afternoon, and I’d get 100 per cent attendance. Guys wanted to come to the rink. ” The response from the players was gratifying for the coaching staff. “We enjoyed the fact that the players were having so much fun. We fed off each other.” The coaches took the democratic route in some team decisions. For example, the players voted on a dress code: they chose to come to the rink in a dress shirt and pants - but drew the line at ties. Parent John Olafson has nothing but good things to say about the young coaching quartet. He said he was “very impressed and happy” that SEERA has a group of young coaches willing to take on the job. “It was apparent early on that the coaches were very competent and had a great amount of knowledge and hockey experience to share with the players. Having young, fun coaches who played hockey themselves and shared their passion for the game added to the enthusiasm that the players already had.” Like David, he saw the bond between the players and the coaches; they had the same interest and could joke around with the kids in a way that parents might not be able to. Any

Hockey Edmonton Magazine


concerns that the young coaches might have problems keeping the team under control were quickly laid to rest. “Any situation when team or individual discipline was required appears to be dealt with in a timely, mature and effective manner.” “Despite the closeness in age, the players quickly seemed to develop respect and admiration for the coaches. They were great role models for the players by setting the example of how you can give back to the game you love by taking on a volunteer role such as coaching.” Team captain David Dent was happy to have the coaches he could relate to. “You sort of have the same mindset and ideas as them.” David says. “I think everyone on the team could relate to one another.”

He felt the team and coaches bonded better than on any other team he has played on. He gives full credit to the coaches for the Lightning’s team ethic. “We played as a unit, and that all starts with the coaches. It was both easier and more fun to play with the young coaches.. it’s like a brother-to-brother relationship. It was by far the best year I have played so far.” Cousens says the coaching experience has given him a great appreciation of what parents go through. “I think overall kids don’t have an understanding of how much time and effort parents have to devote to their kids. They don’t appreciate how much time and work is being put into making a hockey season successful. I plan on making coaching a lifetime thing. I would encourage other young people to get into coaching, but only if they are willing to truly commit. It is an experience worth committing to.”

“Hockey is a funny game. You have to prove yourself every shift, every -Paul Coffey-

game. It’s not up to anybody else. You have to take pride in yourself.



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0 2 20LEY CUP

STAN MPIONS CHA [By Rob Suggitt] This may be a bold prediction, but exactly 10 years ago, this magazine made a similar prediction for the Sidney Crosby led Pittsburgh Penguins.

As the 2005-2006 season was about to get underway, the Penguins were just coming off back-to-back bottom dwelling seasons (last place for the 2003-2004 season, and second last place for the previous season), so what gave us the confidence to make such a bold prediction? It all stemmed on a generational player draft pick – Sidney Crosby, a player, who at the time, had not even played one game in the NHL. But our belief in 2005 was that Crosby was a generational player, someone with skill, but also maturity and a competitive nature above the rest. With some research, we determined that it took on average 4.6 seasons for a generational player to help bring their team the Stanley Cup. As it turned out, Crosby led the Penguins to the cup in only his fourth NHL season. As for the Edmonton Oilers (and our bold prediction), you have to assume that Connor McDavid is the “real deal,” a player in the same category as some of the greats who’ve played the game.

Edmonton 2005 Hockeyre iction Magazine P d


In compiling our list of great players, we went to Wikipedia. Using their list, we then looked at how long it took each player to win the Stanley Cup. We added one active player to the list, Sidney Crosby, and as you can see by our list, it took anywhere from two to seven seasons for each of these players to win the cup. In looking at our chart, it does appear that if you have a superstar player, it takes approximately five years to win a cup. Perhaps it was different in the six-team era, but if you look at recent years, things have not changed a lot. Gretzky proved it in a 21-team league, and Mario Lemieux and Crosby proved it as the league expanded to 30 teams.

Player Eddie Shore Rocket Richard Gordie Howe Doug Harvey Jean Beliveau Jacques Plante Terry Sawchuk Bobby Hull Phil Esposito Bobby Orr Guy Lafleur Wayne Gretzky Mark Messier Mario Lemieux Sidney Crosby

1st NHL Season

1st Stanley Cup

Years Taken














6 6































Total Cup Wins

There are some great players not on the list who helped their team win a cup. Jaromir Jagr (with a bit of help from Lemieux) won a cup in his first season. Patrick Roy took four years, while Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman (eight years and 14 years, respectively) took a bit longer. There are a few very good players who never won a cup in their NHL careers – Dale Hawerchuk, Marcel Dionne and Gilbert Perreault come to mind – but most great players bring great success to the teams they play for. Will Connor McDavid be a hockey great? We think so, and so do a lot of other hockey pundits. That’s a lot of pressure to put on a young hockey player, but McDavid appears to have the composure and maturity (like other hockey greats) to withstand any outside pressure from fans or media alike. But it not only takes greatness. You need to have talented teammates around you, and great players attract talent. Great players help make their teammates become better players. But remember, in Sidney Crosby’s first NHL season, the Penguins finished one point out of last place in the NHL standings, so Oilers fans will still need to be patient. (A word Oilers fans have gotten quite used to.) Time, of course, will tell, but our bold prediction remains – the Oilers will win their sixth Stanley Cup within the next five seasons!


TYLER BENSON Working toward a strong second season with the Giants [By Jeremy Freeborn]

There have been great players over the years who were born in the Edmonton region. The list includes Mark Messier, Johnny Bucyk and Jarome Iginla. Edmonton native Tyler Benson of the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League is currently on the cusp of stardom and has the hockey world buzzing.

Prior to heading into his second full season with the Giants this

fall, Benson participated in Hockey Canada’s Under-18 Summer Showcase in August at the Markin MacPhail Centre, in Calgary. After one of his practices, Benson spoke to Hockey Magazine Edmonton. Benson’s resume is impressive. The 17-year-old left winger, who played youth hockey in the Confederation Hockey Club of the Edmonton Minor Hockey Association, had a remarkable Gretzky-esque season in only 33 Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League games with the South Side Athletic Club Southgate Lions in 2012-13. Benson led the AMBHL in assists (89) and points (146). His 146 points set an AMBHL record for most points in a season. Benson’s 2012-13 season with the Lions was appropriately summed up by one word in the Edmonton Journal—“ridiculous.” Benson helped the Lions win a lot of hockey games as well. The team went 47-4-4 overall and outscored their opponents 342105. Eight times the Lions scored 10 or more goals, including a season high 17 goals in a 17-1 win over the Grande Prairie Storm on Jan. 6, 2013. Benson also scored three times in a 5-3 win over Vancouver’s North Shore Winter Club to help the Lions win the 2013 Western Canadian Bantam AAA championship in Kindersley, Sask. Benson was named the tournament’s most valuable player.


Even though Benson has a lot of personal success to date, it is the team success that is the most important to him. “What I take most from my years are the teams we had. (In 201213), we didn’t lose much and we won a championship.” Benson has been fortunate to come from a hockey family. His father got Tyler involved in hockey and his older brother Cole played four seasons with the Edmonton Oil Kings from 20112015. “They (father and brother) have had big impacts on my life. They helped me get started in hockey. Just being able to watch my brother’s games and the other guys (Cole was playing with and against), it really helped me get to the next level each and every year.” While playing in Edmonton, Benson learned a lot from his coaches. He credits Mark Menard (one of Tyler’s first hockey coaches) and Taylor Harnett (Tyler’s coach during the 2013 Western Canadian bantam championship season) as the coaches, who had significant impact on his success. After Benson’s monster 2012-13 season, he was the obvious first overall choice of the Vancouver Giants of the 2013 WHL bantam draft. Even though Benson has always tried to emphasize the team success over his individual accomplishments, he admits being drafted number one in the WHL bantam draft was special. “It was a pretty cool experience. It was a great year.” As a 15-year-old, Benson decided to play with the Pursuit of Excellence hockey academy in Kelowna, B.C., and had 66 goals and 104 assists for 170 points in 85 games. Benson’s decision to play for a hockey academy rather than the Alberta or British Columbia midget leagues was a surprise to many, and showed how far these hockey academies have grown in interest among high performance teenage hockey players.

Benson believes the academy route was the best option for him and the Pursuit of Excellence was able to improve his game the most. “I went there for development and just to be on the ice every day. I was able to work on my skating and overall skill. By attending hockey academies, it gets you on the ice more.” The fact that Benson was able to average 4.4 points per game in bantam and two points per game with the Pursuit of Excellence, says a lot about this Edmontonian’s skill level. In his rookie season for the Giants in 2014-15, Benson saw a slight drop to his prolific offensive pace of his two previous seasons. Still, he notched a respectable 14 goals and 31 assists for 45 points in 62 games. Benson is ambivalent about his rookie season with the Giants in the WHL. “It could have been a little bit better. Our team failed to make the playoffs, so that is always a little disappointing. Personally I think it was a good year just to get started in the Western Hockey League and I will try to build on it this year and for years to come.” Benson discusses the significant transition of going from the Pursuit of Excellence to the WHL. “It was a big change. Going from midget to the WHL is a big difference. The players are bigger and stronger.” Throughout his minor hockey career, Benson has been compared frequently to Sam Steel of the Regina Pats. Both Benson and Steel are from Edmonton, were first and second in AMBHL scoring in 2012-13, were drafted first and second in the 2013 WHL bantam draft, could both be drafted in the first round of the 2016 National Hockey League Entry Draft, and were teammates on the Alberta squad that won the 2008 Brick Tournament at West Edmonton Mall. Benson has high praise for Steel. “Sam is a very good player. He is very highly skilled. He is a very hard worker. I’ve played against him a lot and he is a very tough player to play against.” In 2015-16, Benson will be playing for Lorne Moelleken in Vancouver. A native of Regina, Sask., Moelleken coached the Chicago Blackhawks from 1998-2000; coached the Saskatoon Blades for 13 seasons; and spent time coaching the Edmonton Oilers’ farm teams in Cape Breton and Hamilton.

“I am excited to play for him. I got to talk to him when he got hired (June 30, 2015). He seems very excited for the season, and by looking at his resume, he has provided a lot of wins in the WHL, so hopefully he can provide wins for us in Vancouver, too.” Benson’s role model in the NHL is Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars. Benn is coming off a season where he won the Art Ross Trophy by leading the NHL with 87 points. Benson believes his strengths on the ice are his power game and vision in making plays. He thinks he needs to improve on his skating, and if Benson accomplishes this personal goal, he will be stronger in his own end and will be a better defensive forward. Benson was pleased to be selected to the national under-18 team that won the bronze medal at the 2015 Under-18 World Hockey Championship in Switzerland. He was the third youngest player on Team Canada, and had one goal and three assists for four points in seven games.

Going from midget to the WHL is a big difference. The players are bigger and stronger. “Just being named to that team was very exciting. Being underage, and playing with players, who were eligible for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, was very special. Putting on the maple leaf and winning a bronze was a great experience.” Then in August, Benson led the Team Canada squad that won the gold medal at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Bratislava, Slovakia. In five games, Benson had a team high six points (two goals and four assists). Benson has not thought much about the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. His primary focus is to have a great season with the Vancouver Giants. However, a solid NHL career could definitely be a reality for this elite hockey prospect from Edmonton.

By Jeremy Freeborn

From 1980-1987, Edmonton Oilers hockey fans were treated to greatness. The Oilers were loaded with offensive talent that would make every single person associated with sports at the time shake his head with amazement. The Oilers games showcased a high number of odd man rushes that were started by a skilled, playmaking defenseman who could quickly get the puck out of the Oilers zone. That player was Paul Coffey. And Coffey could not only pass the puck, but he could shoot the puck with speed and accuracy.

Since his retirement in 2001, Coffey has received every

accolade imaginable. In 2004, Coffey was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, in his first year of eligibility. In 2005, the Oilers retired Coffey’s number seven. In 2007, Coffey was inducted into the Pittsburgh Penguins Hall of Fame. However, the recognition is not over. Another special post-retirement accolade for Coffey will come on Oct. 21, 2015, at the Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto (formerly known as the historic Maple Leaf Gardens). Fourteen years after his retirement, Coffey will be inducted into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame. Coffey will be one of an elite list of Canadian sports legends that include Canadian Olympic gold medalists Lori-Ann Muenzer (women’s track cycling, 2004); Danielle Goyette (women’s hockey, 2002 and 2006); Jennifer Heil (women’s moguls, 2006); and Canadian Olympic silver medalists Susan Auch (women’s 500 m speed skating, 1994, 1998) and Nicolas Gill (men’s 100 kg judo, 2000). Others include 17-time Paralympic swimming gold medalist Michael Edgson, cross country skiers Sharon and Shirley Firth, soccer player Craig Forrest, field hockey coach Marina van der Merwe, and golf director Jocelyne Bourassa. Coffey played with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings, Hartford Whalers, Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, Carolina Panthers and Boston Bruins from 1987-2001. However, it is his time as an Oiler, which has memorable significance. The statistics he accumulated can be compared to the greatest defenseman in NHL history, Bobby Orr. It is Coffey who has the NHL record for most goals in one regular season by a defenseman, which he set with the Oilers in 1986 (48 goals).


Coffey also had 120+ points three times in his career (behind only Orr among NHL defenseman, who achieved the mark four times). Coffey also won back-toback Norris Trophies with the Oilers in 1985 and 1986; won three Stanley Cups with Edmonton (1984, 1985 and 1987); represented the Oilers in five consecutive NHL All-Star games (1982-1986); and was a National Hockey League first all-star in 1984-85 and 1985-86. Prior to the announcement of his fall induction, Coffey spoke to Hockey Magazine Edmonton about his fond memories as a member of the Edmonton Oilers organization. Surprisingly, it took Coffey a little while to adjust to the NHL level. “Terrible would be a pretty good word to describe my first couple of months with the Oilers (in 1980). I had lack of confidence, and was insecure in my own ability. One day, the Oilers director of scouting Barry Fraser called me aside in the hotel lobby in Denver prior to a game against the Colorado Rockies, and asked, ‘What are you doing?’ I said, ‘I don’t know. Not very much.’ He said, ‘Just do what I drafted you here to do. Stay with the puck. Shoot the puck. Pass the puck. Play your game.’ From that point on, he gave me confidence to do what they wanted me to do, to do what I did well and after that, my career really got better with the Oilers and seemed to take off.” After recording only nine goals and 32 points in his rookie season in Edmonton, Coffey had 89 points in his second year as an Oiler, followed by 96 points in 1982-83. He then had a remarkable three straight seasons where he eclipsed 120 points, including a career high 138 points in 1985-86, one less than the regular season record of 139 points set by Orr with the Bruins in 1970-71.

In the 1985 Stanley Cup playoffs, Coffey set the record for most goals by a defenseman (12), assists by a defenseman (25) and points by a defenseman (37) in a single playoff year. Coffey also has the record for most playoff goals in a career by a defenseman (59) and most points in a career by a defenseman (196). During his time with the Oilers, Coffey tied the NHL record for most points by a

Lee Fogolin, Dave Semenko, Dave Hunter, Kevin McClelland, Kevin Lowe, Charlie Huddy and Dave Lumley were among those who really made our team. You cannot win championships just with great players. You must have great role players and we definitely had that. defenseman (also tied the Oilers franchise record) in one game (eight) on March 14, 1986. In a 12-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings, Coffey had two goals and six assists. In the second intermission of the game, Coffey has a clear recollection of his special conversation with Wayne Gretzky.

“Lee Fogolin, Dave Semenko, Dave Hunter, Kevin McClelland, Kevin Lowe, Charlie Huddy and Dave Lumley were among those who really made our team. You cannot win championships just with great players. You must have great role players and we definitely had that.”

“I saw Wayne get up from his seat and walk to the coaches’ office. He came back out and over to me. He asked if I knew how many points I had. I told him I had five. He asked if I knew what the record was for most points by a defenseman in a game. I told him, ‘No.’ I honestly did not know. He said with a fierce look, ‘It’s eight. Let’s go.’ I looked right back at him and said, ‘Sounds good to me.’ That was typical of the kind of hockey player he was. He wanted everybody around him to do that much better.”

Huddy, who played with the Oilers from 1980-1991, was Coffey’s defensive linemate.

Coffey has great memories winning the three Stanley Cups and playing with the Oilers superstars during the 1980s, but stresses the importance that the Oilers unsung heroes had during the dynasty era.

“For me getting the chance to play with Charlie Huddy was the perfect combination. We liked to have fun on and off the ice. We roomed with each other on occasion. He was not only a great defensive defenseman, he was great offensively as well. He had 20 goals in 1982-83. He was a real treat to play with. He was a great teacher. He was a veteran guy who parlayed a great playing career to a great coaching career.” While with the Oilers, Coffey was active volunteering in the community. Once or twice a year, he attended the Edmonton Junior Achievement dinner. As Coffey grew older,


he realized the significance the dinner had, and appreciated the organization. He has also helped raise funds for prostate cancer, children with physical disabilities, and the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. “Edmonton, to this day, is a community-driven team. As an athlete, it is your responsibility to be involved in the community.” Coffey did not always play defense. He started his hockey career in Ontario as a forward, and always wanted to be like his idol, Dave Keon, of the Toronto Maple Leafs. But at the age of nine, his coach moved him to defense. Initially, Coffey was not pleased with his coach’s decision, but his father persuaded him to give defense a try. Coffey loved the position. By being a defenseman, he got to see more ice time and showcase his skills. For those youth hockey players that are asked to play defense, Coffey has the following message. “The most important thing for any player in any sport is to trust your coach. Do what is asked and try it.” Coffey has not played with the Oilers since 1987, but remains active with the alumni of the National Hockey League Players Association and the Edmonton Oilers Alumni Association. When he came back to have his number seven retired by the Oilers on Oct. 18, 2005, it was a meaningful personal moment. “Getting a chance to say thank-you to the fans was very special. The Oilers are a great franchise. I am an alumnus forever. The fact that my number seven jersey will be in the rafters forever is pretty exciting.” Today, Coffey runs a Kia Car Dealership in Bolton, Ont. He has remained active in the hockey community since his retirement.

The Oilers are a great franchise. I am an alumnus forever. The fact that my number seven jersey will be in the rafters forever is pretty exciting.

He has coached his sons throughout Ontario minor hockey, and this past year helped out a friend by agreeing to coach the Pickering Panthers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. “I would describe myself as a coach that lets the players play and lets them become the players that they can be. I definitely hold them accountable. I try to help make them bigger and better than they are. I would call myself tough but very fair. I have enjoyed every minute of it.” Two of Coffey’s sons continue to play hockey—one at the junior level and the other at the pee wee level. If the right opportunity came about, Coffey says he would consider returning to hockey in some capacity. For now being close to his family is a top priority. Another family Coffey will always be a proud member of is the Edmonton Oilers organization.


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WWhat’s The Point

With Hockey Points? W [By Rob Suggitt]

In this day and age, there are lots of systems

for “advanced stats” in most North American sports leagues. (Baseball got things going in the early part of this century, and most sports fans and teams soon learned what “Moneyball” meant.) The NHL is no exception. In hockey, the most commonly known (and used) advanced stats are Corsi and Fenwick. While new stats and measurements have delivered some value, there is one statistic (probably the most important statistic) which remains the most valuable measurement of a player’s value to a team, the statistic for how the game is won or lost: goals and assists. Combined, they’re called points! Yes, goaltending and defense matters, but every player (except goalies) is critically measured on how many points they tally in a season. (Indeed, plus/ minus stats give players credit just for being on the ice when a goal is scored…for or against, and regardless if their play was a factor, or even if they touched the puck.) Points are like a batting average in baseball or baskets made in basketball – the most critical measurement of a player’s value to his team. The scoring leader is often considered the most valuable player on his team or in the league. The scoring leader is awarded one of the most prestigious trophies in hockey – the Art Ross Trophy. 10 out of the last 20 Hart Memorial Trophy winners (MVP) scored the most points in the NHL. And 18 out of 20 Art Ross Trophy winners were finalists for the league MVP award. So I think we can all agree that points matter! But here’s the thing – there is a certain imbalance to how points are awarded. Some goals are unassisted, so only one point is awarded, and some goals are only given one assist, and the vast majority of goals are awarded two assists. And not all assists contribute equally to an ensuing goal. Some assists are awarded for handing over the puck to another teammate, while some assists are glorious creative plays which are the reason a goal was scored. But equal credit is given in both cases. So how are assists awarded? It’s a bit arbitrary, but essentially it is deemed to be the last two players to touch the puck immediately before a goal is scored. But what does “touch the puck” mean?

Corsi: Named after former Buffalo Sabres netminder Jim Corsi, Corsi is the plus/minus amount of shots directed at a net while at even strength. This includes blocked shots, shots high and wide, shots that hit & shots that get tipped. A player who has a positive Corsi has more shots directed towards the opponent’s net while he is on the ice at even strength then shots directed towards his own net under the same criteria. All 10 players on the ice are used when calculating this metric.

Fenwick: Named for Battle of Alberta writer Matt Fenwick, Fenwick is almost the same as Corsi, but it doesn’t count blocked shots. The reason for this is that it is entirely possible that blocking shots is a skill, and not just a random series of events.

A goalie who shuffles the puck to a defenseman is given a point if only one more player touches (or passes) the puck to the goal scorer. In this case, did the goalie actually help create the goal? If a great puck-moving goalie like Martin Brodeur, Ron Hextall or Marty Turco makes an actual pass to a player waiting at centre for example, and a goal is scored, they should absolutely get an assist. But what about a defenseman who simply shuffles the puck to their teammate en route to a goal being scored. How valuable was the defenseman’s “play” in this example?

From NHL Rule Book: Crediting Assists - When a player scores a goal, an “assist” shall be credited to the player or players (maximum two) who touch the puck prior to the goal scorer provided no defender plays or has control of the puck subsequently. Each “assist” shall count one point in the player’s record. Only one point can be credited to any one player on a goal.

From Wikipedia: In ice hockey, an assist is attributed to up to two players of the scoring team who shot, passed or deflected the puck towards the scoring teammate, or touched it in any other way which enabled the goal, meaning that they were “assisting” in the goal. There can be a maximum of two assists per goal. The assists will be awarded in the order of play, with the last player to pass the puck to the goal scorer getting the primary assist and the player who passed it to the primary assister getting the secondary assist. A defenseman (or sometimes another forward) may be given a point by merely passing the puck up to a forward, who may with certain creativity dangle around the whole team before putting the puck in the net. Is the defenseman’s play as valuable as the goal scorer’s play? Not even close in the example, but they are each awarded the same value on the scoresheet: one point. And what about the difference between the first assist given and the second assist given? In most cases, would the pass which immediately leads up to the goal be more important than an earlier pass given?


And what if there are three equally good (and important) passes which lead up to a goal? So no credit is given to more than two passes which lead up to a goal, even if the first pass (in a three pass segment) was more creative and complex than the second and third passes. What about the player who intercepts the puck in his own zone, and goes coast to coast to score a highlight reel goal? Should this count as only one point, or should some consideration be given to the quality of the goal? If a maximum of three points are awarded for a goal, should an individual effort goal count for three points? A little far-fetched perhaps. And how subjective would this measurement be? And could it be fairly and equally applied? How about screening the goalie? If a player stands in front of the net, and a goal is scored because of his screen, is this not as critical as a first or second pass which led up to the goal? But here’s the challenge. How do you come up with a system (or metric) for calculating points based on merit? One which more accurately measures the actual “value” of a player’s contribution when a goal is scored. It becomes a subjective exercise, but if it’s purpose is for internal use (not necessarily for public consumption or awarding trophies) it could be very useful information to assist NHL teams on player talent, one which could potentially measure a player’s offensive productivity better than the current model. To compare and test a new system to the current system, you would need to have a “cap” on the number of points awarded for each goal. If, for example, you awarded three points for every goal scored, this would exceed the current average number of points awarded for an NHL goal. Using last year’s stats as an example, the Oilers scored 198 goals, and the combined total points scored were 516. So not exactly three points for every goal scored, because some goals were scored unassisted (13) and some goals were only awarded one assist (52), and the vast majority of goals (133) were given two assists. 516 points divided by 198 goals works out to 2.61 points per goal. I speculate that this percentage would be similar for other teams in the NHL. So if the league average was 2.6 points awarded for every goal, what would be a better (and more representative way) to award and distribute

these points? The current model works okay, but I think there’s a better (and more reflective way) to award points. One thing for certain – the current way hockey points are awarded and recognized has some flaws. It's rare to see a goal scored, where the goal scorer and one or two playmakers have equal value participation with the end result. It's not usually "good goal," "good pass," and "good and equal pass" when a goal is scored. Sometimes it's "easy tap-in," "amazing pass," and "okay pass" when a goal is scored. Or it could be "amazing goal," "okay pass," and "amazing pass." And for those who say these things balance out – sometimes you get credit for an easy pass, and other times you get credit for an amazing pass – things don't always balance out. So the challenge is to find a system which better reflects the real value provided when a goal is scored.

Edmonton Oilers Goals Scored 2014-2015 Season Unassisted goals One assist goals Two assist goals

[Total goals scored: 198 goals] Stay tuned. In our next issue of Hockey Edmonton Magazine, I will unveil this new system, along with a comparison of the new system to the current method of calculating player points. It should be interesting.

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How to Shoot Better With Effective Weight Transfer Whether you are a novice hockey player or an experienced one, learning how to transfer your weight properly is a great way to improve your shot. You can prepare yourself, or your team, to use weight transfer strategies with some simple hockey drills. Using your leg muscles will give you an explosive shot, so you can take the best advantage of your scoring opportunities.

Here’s a quick three-step technique to making a great shot from in front of the net:


Bend your knees slightly – your legs are your strongest muscles, and this stance gives you the balance and mobility you want. Line your stick up with the puck to shoot.


Load up the muscles in your leg opposite where the puck is. Get your whole body ready to propel the puck at the net.


Use the “Nose to Toes” move: --> Start with your head above your back leg where the muscles are coiled ready to push forward. --> Your stick should have the puck drawn back like a catapult ready to spring, with your front foot pointed at the net. --> As you move the puck forward along the ice, push your whole body towards your target with your leg muscles, sliding the puck forward as you go. --> As you move the puck forward along the ice, push your whole body towards your target with your leg muscles, sliding the puck forward as you go.

You’ll notice if you try this technique without bending your knees, you won’t have the power, mobility or balance needed to fire the puck with the snap and power you want to give the net that great twine push you really want. Transferring your weight properly makes the puck go faster and makes the goalie’s job that much harder. Practicing this weight transfer technique on dry land is a good way to get you used to the motion. The explosiveness of your shot will really improve, so be sure you put a net in front of the garage door. Things could get expensive. When you are ready to take the move to the ice, be ready for your team to ask you for tips on improving their shot too. Be sure to share this video with them so the whole team can amp up their game.

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Your wrist shot, backhander or slap shot should follow these techniques. The “Nose to Toes” move will give you the best balance and power in your shot. To get used to this movement, be sure to go through some hockey drills in practice with your team. You can also practice it with your road hockey net with your friends.

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Photos by Andy Devlin, Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club


Oilers’ director of high performance shares fitness tips for youth

[By KELSEY SPOHN] With the summer months behind us, we turn to the best

season in Oil Country – hockey season! Minor hockey players and youth are gearing up to get back into game mode and to achieve this, many are starting to ramp up their fitness or carry their summer training forward.


Over at Rexall Place, the Oilers are busy doing the same with training camp, pre-season and the 2015-16 National Hockey League regular season in full swing. So why is maintaining a strong fitness regime relative to your age and skill level so important for youth and professional hockey players alike?




Simon Bennett with 1 Laurent Brossoit 2 Laurent Brossoit 3 Kale Kassey

Simon Bennett, director of high performance for the Edmonton Oilers, oversees high performance initiatives including the team’s training, led by strength and conditioning coach Chad Drummond and assistant coach Joel Schneider. Bennett has a breadth of experience with NHL players and completed all of his education at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver where he earned his bachelor of physical education with a specialization in exercise performance and a bachelor of education. As director of high performance, he notes that while much of his focus rests with professional athletes, the core principles of fitness in hockey pertains to minor hockey players as well. “It’s not exclusive to high performance, anyone can benefit from exercise and healthy habits,” said Bennett. Hockey players, in general, and youth players need to ensure they are maintaining a strong fitness level because a higher fitness level will lead to a greater skill acquisition, both of which make the game easier to play, he says. Physical expectations depend on the level and age of the athlete. But there’s a “soft expectation,” says Bennett, that kids are engaging in things in the offseason to increase their fitness profile and that could mean either staying active or getting stronger. “How seven to 10-year-olds prepare and what they actively do is going to be different than what a more mature athlete is doing, but fitness is no doubt important in any category,” said Bennett. Heading into his seventh season with the Oilers, Bennett and his training team place a strong emphasis on ensuring that players are doing the basics that will allow them to perform at a high level. Essentially, this means players are taking in the correct amount of liquid and nutrition with an emphasis on fitness level. “I can’t emphasize the importance of fueling and refuelling your body. We ensure that the Oilers players are fueling properly before they come to the rink, before they step on the ice for practice and we follow-up with them after practice, conditioning or games,” said Bennett. “This applies to any minor hockey player as well. Drinking enough water, eating the right foods, preparing their bodies by fueling and refueling before and after any activity is going to improve their game performance.” The training staff’s next big focus is what they refer to as preparation.

“Learning how to prepare your body for the rigours of the game is huge. ” “It might sound obvious, but when players learn how to do a proper warmup, we call this ‘being a pro.’ Learning how to prepare your body for the rigours of the game is huge,” shared Bennett. “Emphasizing proper warmups and cool downs are all part of this preparation.” It is essential that young players learn immediately how to do a proper warmup and cool down as that allows their bodies to maintain the right amount of mobility and stability. “This will help prevent injuries, allow the player to become more resilient and make them resistant to fatigue,” he said. Bennett believes that taking the game off the ice with proper training, fueling/refuelling and preparation amounts to better performance on the ice. In the weeks leading up to a season or a game, for instance, players should be doing sprint-based exercises to match the sprint-and-glide nature of a real game. Lead-up training prepares the player’s body for the specific demand and helps develop a better tolerance for this sprintrepeat nature, helping to adjust the player’s body to the strongest game-mode. Benjamin Franklin is credited with once saying: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” With Bennett and the other Oilers training staff emphasizing the importance of preparation, fueling and recovery as they march into the 2015-16 NHL season, the Oilers look forward to a strong season and wish the best of luck to all minor hockey participants as they head into their own across Oil Country.


Dylan Leaney [By Rob Suggitt] We met up with 17-year-old Dylan Leaney in early September, just as he was getting ready for the new hockey season. Dylan is in the first year of studies at the University of Alberta, in the faculty of Education, majoring in math and minoring in chemistry. Dylan began officiating hockey about three years ago, and he also enjoys curling and ball hockey. His other hobby is keeping reptiles, including multiple species of snakes and geckos. Dylan took the time out of his busy schedule to chat with us about his experience as a minor hockey official.

Photos By SC Parker Photography What made you want to become a hockey official?

I began officiating about a year after I quit playing hockey. I missed being on the ice and being around the game. A couple of my friends were getting into it so I decided to join them!

How many games did you officiate last season? Somewhere around 150 is what I would guess.

How many games do you plan to officiate this season?

As many as I possibly can! If I can do even more games than I did last season it would be awesome.

What level of hockey are you currently officiating?

I am currently doing all levels from novice to bantam lines.

Have you ever officiated during Minor Hockey Week, and if so, what makes you volunteer your time? I have officiated Minor Hockey week every season since I’ve started. The atmosphere is just so fantastic, it’s difficult to not want to do it! Players play harder, more fans are in the stands and the games just seem so much more intense. It’s incredible to be a part of!


What do you enjoy most about officiating hockey games?

What is the toughest part about being a referee?

Every game is something new. No two games are ever alike and you have to be ready for pretty much anything. It’s very exciting!

Trying to ignore any comments and just focus on making the best calls and decisions that I can.

What kind of training were/are you provided?

Ever suffer any injuries as an official? Any close calls?

Each season we have a one-day clinic with both on ice and in class instruction. New officials have to complete an online course as well.

Nothing too severe. I did learn very early on the importance of wearing proper shin pads - took a couple pucks and sticks that left some nasty bruises!

Do you have a role model or mentor who has helped you along the way? There’s so many great people I’ve had the chance to learn from but the first name that comes to mind is Duncan MacDougall, my referee in chief. He’s given me some great opportunities and helped me a lot along the way.

How have you improved your skills as an official? Simply doing games and learning from all the great officials I’ve had the chance to work with. Through the supervision program that we have I’ve received advice, guidance and new ways in which I can improve my game.

Do you have any highlights related to big games or tournaments to pass along?

How do you handle criticism on the ice? Personally I try to zone it out. You do your best to always make the right call but there are certain situations where no matter what you do, one team isn’t going to be too happy. I try to always explain any calls I’ve made, or haven’t made, that the coaches or players don’t understand or could be considered controversial.

Do you have comments you wish to share with parents, coaches or anyone watching minor hockey? Never forget the real reason your kids are playing the sport. Don’t get so caught up with everything else that you forget the true love you and your kids have for the game.

I officiated a few Minor Hockey Week finals and they are some of the greatest games I’ve been a part of!

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Checking From Behind

Signals Boarding If a player is checked into the boards in a violent manner, then the referee may call a boarding penalty. A two minute penalty will be given for boarding, and in situations where the offense is more serious (when a player is vulnerable, etc), a five minute major penalty and game ejection may be called.

Body-Checking Body-checking is not allowed until the Bantom level. Delivering a body-check in the lower divisions will result in a two minute penalty being given. The referee’s signal is an arm accross the chest with a flat hand.

Butt-Ending If a player jabs (or attempts to jab) another player with the shaft of his or her stick above the upper hand, a butt-ending penalty may be called. The referee holds one forearm over the other, the upper hand flat and the lower hand makes a fist.

Charging If a player takes more than two steps or strides, or jumps into an opponent when body-checking, a charging infraction may be called. The referee signals this call by rotating clenched fists around eachother in front of the chest.


If a player pushes, body-checks or cross checks an opponent from behind, a checking from behind penalty may be called. It is a game misconduct (ejection), coupled with a two or five minute penalty, depending on the severity of the offense. The referee’s signal is a pushing motion away from the chest with both arms and flat hands.

Checking To The Head A minor or major penalty, depending on the degree of violence of impact and shall be assessed to any player who checks an opponent in the head area. A match penalty could also be assessed under this rule. If a player is injured, a major and game misconduct penalty or match penalty must be assessed.

Cross-Checking When a player uses the shaft of his stick, held between the hands, to check an opponent. The referee signals with a pushing motion of the arms, fists clenched and shoulder-width apart. (This signal immitates the action of a cross-check)

Elbowing The referee may call an elbowing penalty when a player hits or checks an opponent using his elbow. The referee signals by grabbing either elbow with the opposite hand.

High-Sticking This occurs when an an opponent is checked by another player’s stick held above the normal height of the shoulders. A more severe penalty may be called for flagrent high-sticking fouls, including ejection from the game. The referee signals a high sticking call by clenching their fists and mimicking a player holding a stick above their shoulders.

Holding This is called when a player grabs the opponents body or stick and holds them back from play. The referee motions this call by grabbing either wrist with the opposite hand.

Hooking This penalty is called when a player slows down an opponent by hooking his stick on any part of the opponent’s body or stick. The referee signals this call with a pulling motion with both arms as if holding a stick.

Interference This penalty is called when a player impedes the progress of an opponent who does not have the puck. The referee signals this call by crossing his or her arms accross the chest.

Kneeing If a player uses his knee (this includes sticking his knee out) to take down or check an opponent, the referee may call a kneeing penalty. If the infraction is of a more serious nature, the referee may consider a major and a game misconduct instead of a minor penalty. The referee signals this by bending down and grabbing his knee.


This penalty may be called when a player demonstrates extreme and inappropriate behaviour toward another player or a game official. Depending on the severity of the offense, the player may be given a ten minute misconduct penalty. The penalized team, in this case, does not play shorthanded, unless there is contact involved.

Roughing This player may be called when a player uses his arms or fists to hit another player. The referee’s signal for this is a clenched fist extended out to the front or side of the body.

Slashing This penalty is called when a player deliberately hits an opponent with his stick. The signal for this call is a flat hand chopping down on the opposite forearv m.

Spearing Spearing occurs when a player thrusts or jabs the blade of his stick toward an opponent. Players are usually ejected from the game for spearing. The signal for this call is similar to hooking, however instead of a pulling motion with both arms toward the body, it is an outward jabbing motion.

Tripping This penalty may be called when a player uses his or her stick or any body part to trip the opponent with the puck. However, if the player touches the puck prior to contact with the other player, there is usually no penalty called. The referee signals this call by bending down and striking their leg with their hand, below the knee.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct This penalty may be called when a player exhibits poor sportsmanlike or inappropriate behaviour on the ice. A “T” is made with the hands to signal this call.


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Hockey Edmonton Magazine Fall Edition 2015  
Hockey Edmonton Magazine Fall Edition 2015