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Drake offers hockey pointers

August 25, 2008
By Brandon Veale -

ESCANABA - Ordinarily, a Squirt AA coach in Traverse City would not have the resume to speak before a USA Hockey coaching clinic.

But when that Squirt AA coach has played over 1,000 National Hockey League games and has won an NCAA national championship and a Stanley Cup, coaches listen.

Dallas Drake came to Bay College's Heirmann Center Sunday to speak at USA Hockey's 2008 Michigan District Level IV Clinic to discuss his philosophies on coaching and talk a little about his career.

Article Photos

Dallas Drake

Drake said his goal is not sending his Bayshore Bruins (made of players born in 1998 and '99) into the NHL, but to give them a love of the game that will last a lifetime.

"My goal with my kids is for them to play beer league hockey when they get older," he said.

After lifting the Stanley Cup with the Detroit Red Wings in June, Drake retired after 15 NHL seasons with the Wings, St. Louis Blues, Phoenix Coyotes and Winnipeg Jets. He also won a national championship at Northern Michigan University in 1991.

The three-day clinic, hosted by Escanaba Eskymo hockey coach Ward Johnsen, featured presentations from a variety of speakers, including NHL veteran and Michigan Tech alum Randy McKay and several college coaches.

Drake encouraged coaches to consider how much influence they have with their players both on and off the ice.

"Parents put way too much pressure on the kids, and coaches put more pressure on them than they probably should," he said.

He also said many kids spend too much time at the rink because parents fear if their son or daughter doesn't participate in off-season programs or camps, they'll get behind.

"I think if your kid's good, he's going to be good," he said.

When he was a young player in rural southeastern British Columbia, Drake said he'd play from October to March and then not wear his skates again until August.

The rule Drake has set for his team is: parents are encouraged to cheer from the stands, but must leave the instruction to the coaches. After one warning, their child will sit the bench, and the parents must explain to their kids why he or she is not playing.

He said throughout his career, the best coaches he had were both demanding and understanding.

"They know what the player's going through, but in the same sense, they have to be demanding in their coaching program."

Drake said he will not be bringing the Cup to the Upper Peninsula. He took it for two days to his hometown in Rossland, B.C. earlier this summer, but received special permission to display it for a youth hockey fund-raiser in Traverse City Sept. 1.

A Green Bay Packers fan, Drake said there will be no Favrian returns to the NHL.

"Men's league, that's my new league," he said.



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