You may have noticed that when a rookie defenseman has played this season, they were paired with # 5, Deryk Engelland. Last week we had the opportunity to hear two of the Assistant Coaches speak about rookie pairings. They brought great insight into how their philosophy on leadership and teamwork makes the team dynamic work so well. We will give you a hint…it’s not because no one likes Engelland, in fact, it’s quite the opposite.
Why have Nic Hague and Deryk Engelland been paired together?
“We like to try to put experience with a little bit of inexperience, that’s number one… just to give it a little bit of a safety valve. Number two, you want to have somebody that can maybe move the puck up the ice quick, and be involved in the play with another guy that’s maybe going to watch his back. So you try to insulate both players together. But the biggest thing is when you’re trying to do that you have to find chemistry, and if you don’t find chemistry you can’t have those players together all the time.”Ryan McGill
This isn’t saying that Deryk doesn’t have chemistry with players so he becomes a revolving door. What they are speaking to is the fact that he is an all-around great human, and because of that, most players get along well with him and respect him.
“Nic Hague is a young player with inexperience. Deryk Engelland is a tremendous leader and a good role model, and so those two are together because of the fact that Deryk should be able to help Nic with some areas of the game that maybe Nic is a little bit nervous about.”-Ryan McGill
When there’s mutual respect, you can be a great teacher to those less seasoned because constructive feedback will be better received. Players look up to him and his community looks up to him. In many respects, he is the tribe elder that teaches the way to the young ones. They learn and adapt and end up pushing harder because they don’t want to let their team down. THOSE are the guys you want to work with.
Why do they pair the rookies with seasoned players?
“You like to have a good person with experience whispering something into Glasser’s ears saying ‘you know what, don’t worry about it kid, it was flukey’…where it may not have been. But to hear that from a player, it’s way different than hearing it from a coach. So you have to be cognoscente of those things.”-Mike Kelly
We will close with a little enthusiasm from Mike Kelly. Below he talks about how the coaching staff gets excited watching a rookie flourish. For them, they look forward to watching the growth and development of these young kids. Not every guy molds with every team. Although, it does seem that there is a mold the VGK likes to make sure their players fit into. Synonymously with technical skills, their players have to come with an appreciation and value for teamwork and a willingness to learn from each other. The rest is up to them to decide.
“For me, Cody Glass has been unbelieveable for us. If I’m a fan, you’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg with this kid, and with Nic Hague. That’s really, really exciting. It should be really exciting for you, cause it’s real exciting for us. To see how these young players- right now they’re kids, and they’re gonna become men right before your very eyes, and you’re going to see their development. Right now they’re both contributing! They’re good players for us! So you put them with people that you think it’s going to work with, and you kinda look the other way, cross your fingers and hope it works.”
Pay attention to the rookies in the next few games. See if you notice the guidance led by Deryk Engelland with our young ones. When you think about it, the Dad out there coaching their child during practice never gets the credit, but when their little leaguer hits a home run, the team celebrates the child’s victory. Perhaps we are overlooking the importance of those “Dad Coaches”. They are, after all, what helps to create the next generation of great players.