Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Vince Maranto on 08/24/11 at 12:40 PM ET
The Rockford Ice Hogs will start this season with a new head coach. He is 41 year old, Ted Dent. Ted has been an assistant coach for the past five seasons. He spent the last four seasons in Rockford, and before that, he spent one season in Norfolk. Ted will be replacing former Ice Hogs head coach Bill Peters. Coach Peters took a job over the summer to be an assistant coach in Detroit,with Mike Babcock. Coach Dent will be assisted in Rockford by Ben Simon and Steve Poapst. As with all minor league affiliates in every sport, your job is really two fold. You must prepare your players to move up while maintaining a winning record. Coach Dent is, of course, well aware of this “That was made very clear to me at my job interview,” says Dent. “We want to continue a winning atmosphere in Rockford, of course. But our primary responsibility is to teach and prepare these kids so they will be in the NHL within two or three years.” That is the balance that a minor league coach must learn quickly.
The Hawks Al MacIsaac, vice president and assistant to the president had this to say, “It’s Ted’s time. “He’s tenacious, intelligent, with great hockey sense and people skills. A student of the game who has paid his dues and proven himself.”
Listening to Coach Dent speak, his ideas are fundamental and make sense. “...coaching on this level is like watching them (his own kids) grow. You hate to see them leave, but, hey, that’s what we’re here for. We teach them how to be professionals, on and off the ice. Most of them, whether they’re coming out of junior ranks or university, haven’t played a schedule that we play with as many games. You have to monitor that. You have to instill professional habits, like sticks on the ice, not on the hip. You have to make a hard pass, not a soft junior pass. You might have a kid here wondering why a guy he skated circles around in junior is in the NHL. It’s about competing and work ethic. And you have to, at times, massage players.” The coach also wants to have the same exact workout / practice schedule as the Hawks, including the time of day. If the Hawks practice at a certain time in the morning, the Hogs will too. “It might seem like a small thing,” says Dent. “But if we can get our guys on the same body clocks as the guys in Chicago, why not?” Another thing that Dent realizes is the closeness of Rockford to Chicago.—-(This is something that I, Vince, personally love. I live right in between the 2 cities. Almost an identical 40 miles from each arena).
“The proximity of Rockford to Chicago is significant,” says Dent. “Our guys see that packed United Center down the road and want to get there, badly. Which is good. And once they get a taste of the NHL, they don’t want to leave it, which is also good. Just because you’re an average AHL player doesn’t mean you can’t make the NHL. The Blackhawks. That’s quite a carrot.
It’s nice to see a guy who “gets it”. I’ve felt in the past, with many sports, that a minor league coach with a big ego problem is no good. You should not be using the players that you have to make yourself look good by having a great record, hoping to advance your career. Your job is to develop, instill work ethics, and prepare them for the ‘Big Time”.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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