Hockey parents can learn from Lucic's example

April, 1, 2009

Boston Globe writer John Powers penned a terrific feature on Bruins power forward Milan Lucic. There's a lot more to the burly winger than meets the eye. You can check it out here.

As I read it, I quickly gained a great appreciation for Lucic's will and determination. It's a good lesson for kids of all ages. Don't let someone else shut down your dream.

There was another message in the story for parents -- particularly American parents. As a kid, Lucic was a very well-rounded athlete (as well as being a pretty talented musician). Too often, I hear stories of parents drowning their kids in hockey programs throughout the calendar year. When you do the research, you realize, as kids, most top hockey players took some time away from the rink to play other sports and get involved in other activities.

Sadly, kids' hockey has become another big business in the U.S.

Parents are told their kids "have to be" at this camp or that program. In reality, the kids would be better off playing soccer or lacrosse or baseball or golf or anything else for a portion of the year. By doing so, they'll keep their minds fresh and develop skills that will transfer nicely to the rink. As you read Powers' story, you'll see it certainly didn't hurt Lucic to participate in different activities.

On Wednesday night, the Devils will be looking to get their game back on track against the surging Penguins at Mellon Arena. Coach Brent Sutter's team finds itself in the midst of a 0-4-1 slide. In those five games, the numbers aren't pretty. They've been outscored 16-6 and connected on just two of 21 power-play chances (that's a lowly 5.6 percent success rate). On the flip side, the club's penalty-killing unit has surrendered seven power-play goals on 22 chances. That's a not-so-good 68.2 percent.

In the Devs' last three games, they've allowed 127 shots (an average of 42.3 shots per game). That's very un-Devil-like. I expect they'll be looking to shut things down a little better against the prolific Penguins.

In case Sutter was seeking some slump-busting advice, Newark Star-Ledger hockey scribe Rich Chere offered a funny list of five things the club might try to right their ship.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.




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