Color of Hockey: Guest coaches get a taste of the NHL in development camps

William Douglas has been writing The Color of Hockey blog since 2012. Douglas joined in 2019 and writes about people of color in sports. Today he introduces Lennie Childs, an assistant coach on the Union College NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey team who served as a guest coach at the Seattle Kraken Development Camp as part of an NHL Coaches’ Association program to promote diversity in the hockey team. increase trainer ranks.

Lennie Childs got an insight into the Seattle Kraken coaching culture very early on.

Children, Assistant coach of the Union College NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey teamThe Kraken organization’s coaches and hockey staff found it hard to work out in the gym at 5 a.m. every morning before the players competed at development camp in Seattle last week.

“(Kraken Sports Science and Performance Advisor) Gary Roberts smashes the bike. He’s been around for a while,” Childs said. “Your head strength coach from Coachella Valley (affiliate of the American Hockey League) works there. Her two strength coaches from Seattle are there. Almost every assistant coach trains there. I may need to take a day off to reboot the body. I haven’t trained like this since I played.”

Childs was a guest coach at camp as part of an NHL Coaches’ Association mentoring initiative to increase diversity in the coaching ranks of professional hockey.

Childs attended the camp through the Coaches Association’s BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) coaches program. He was joined by Katelyn Parker, Kraken’s junior hockey player development coach, who is a member of the NHLCA’s Female Coaches Development Program.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said Parker and Childs provided energy and insight at the camp, held July 1-5 at the Kraken Community Iceplex.

“Hockey’s diversity continues to increase,” said Hakstol. “I’ve been following the program for the past year or two. I think it’s extremely important. I think it’s a wonderful one-way street. The fact that we have two good young coaches who come and spend time with us and “Hopefully it’s outstanding to learn some new things and maybe bring some new things to us.”

Seattle is among 12 NHL teams that have selected visiting coaches from the NHLCA’s BIPOC and Female Coaches Development programs to work at their development camps.

Shelly Picard, a women’s ice hockey assistant at Long Island University and a member of the USA women’s Olympic ice hockey team that won the silver medal at the Sochi 2014 games, and Chelsea Walkland and Colgate women’s assistant were selected by the Buffalo Sabers .

Perry Wilson, goaltender coaching advisor for the University of Windsor women’s ice hockey team and goaltender coach for the 2009 Canada under-22 women’s national team, and Candice Moxley, University of Western Ontario women’s coach, worked at the Chicago Blackhawks development camp.

Princeton University women’s coach Cara Morey was a guest coach at the Philadelphia Flyers’ development camp for the third straight year. Leon Hayward, the men’s assistant coach at the University of St. Thomas, an NCAA Division I program in St. Paul, Minnesota, will complete his second straight development camp with the New Jersey Devils this week, along with the women’s assistant coach at Northeastern University Lindsay Berman.

Alyssa Gagliardi, skill and player development coach for Maine at the ECHL and assistant to the men’s team at Neumann University’s NCAA Division III, will be the guest coach at Carolina Hurricanes Camp this week.

Alfie Michaud, assistant coach of the University of Maine men’s ice hockey team, trained at the Arizona Coyotes’ camp.

St. Thomas women’s assistant coach Bethany Brausen worked at the Boston Bruins camp. North American Hockey League Maryland associate coach Kim Weiss and Ohio State University women’s assistant Kelsey Cline attended Colorado Avalanche Camp; Sydney Baldwin, a 2015 and 2016 national championship-winning player with the University of Minnesota women’s team, was selected by the Nashville Predators; Kori Cheverie, last season’s Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association coach and Beijing 2022 Olympics gold medalist with the Canada women’s team, worked at camp for the Pittsburgh Penguins; and Allie LaCombe, co-founder, assistant director and coach of the Nashville Warriors hockey club, was a guest coach at Vancouver Canucks camp.

Hired by Union in August 2022, Childs is one of two black men to coach in NCAA Division I ice hockey. Hayward is the other. Childs is also one of two black hockey coaches on the Union campus.

Olivia Soares, a former assistant on Colby College’s NCAA Division III women’s team and former Ohio State women’s team captain, was hired by Union as an assistant on the Division I women’s team shortly before Childs was hired that same month.

The Kraken selected Childs as their guest coach after an extensive research and interview process that began with assistant general manager Alexandra Mandrycky.

“We had a 30 minute phone call and then followed up with another Zoom call and they did their homework,” Childs said. “They spoke to their scouts to see if they knew me, they researched my career, and then I had an hour-long phone call with them.” Tim Ohashi, the head video coach here in Seattleand Jeff Tambellini, head of player development, and they questioned me for about an hour – my philosophy, my thought process, how I develop.

“It was definitely detail-oriented, and they didn’t want to just bring anyone here. They wanted someone who would fit well into their organization. They’re full of energy, I just mean the gym workouts… It literally means, “We.” “We’re here to get better and make ourselves better before we make our players better.”

Childs, a 31-year-old native of Silver Spring, Maryland, coached in the United States Hockey League and the United States Premier Hockey League and was a Concordia University forward in the NCAA Division III from 2012-2016. He said he was taking a bloated knowledge folder from Hakstol and his assistants back to the Union campus in Schenectady, New York.

“Dave Hakstol gave me 30 minutes of his full, undivided attention, 1-on-1, spontaneously, just talking about his game day prep philosophy and showing me his iPad. I’ll never forget that in my career,” said Childs, before praising the Kraken assistants who worked with him at camp. “Jay Leach played defense and video with me for about an hour on, the things that they do a little bit differently.

Childs said he left Seattle with a better understanding of what it takes to make players better and what it takes to coach in the NHL.

“I’m definitely a nerd,” he said. “I want to achieve the highest level in everything I do. My first thought was, hey, the NHL, not that it’s out of reach, but it’s a different pool of players. I now know what it takes, a little more, and I now know what next-level trainers look like.

Photos: Seattle Kraken

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