Fueling Jamie Benn.

Dave Mason

I flipped on the NHL Network the other day. While I usually don’t pay too much attention to the panel discussion stuff they broadcast ahead of games, this time something got my attention.

Apparently Jamie Benn was in a bit of a slump.

Yes, Art-Ross-Trophy-All-Star-Team-eight-year-$76-million-contract-Jamie Benn had been struggling a little. So the panelists, including NHL veterans Kevin Weekes (340+ games) and Alex Tanguay (1,100+ games), got to talking about how a coach might help a player like Jamie deal with such a confidence threatening situation.

In response to Kevin Weekes’ question about times when, as a high-production NHL forward himself, he might have suffered from self-doubt if things weren’t going well for him, Mr. Tanguay gave the following answer.

“My good coach and friend, who trained me for years in Quebec, was a soccer player in the 70s in Russia. He had this one trick for me. He always said when you start doubting yourself, that’s when you start not believing.

So if I’m Coach Montgomery, I bring Jamie Benn in my office and I start showing him highlights. Highlights of Jamie Benn crushing people in the corner. Highlights of Jamie Benn handling the puck in the corner, making good plays, getting himself in body position in front of the net. And all of a sudden, Jamie Benn will be like, “OK. My speed is still there. I’m still the same player.” And all of a sudden the mindset has changed. You change your mindset as a player and you come to the game confident.”

He went on to share his former coach’s favorite trick to boost a player’s confidence.

“Send him videos. Good videos of himself. Scoring, breakaways, whatever. If he does that, all of a sudden the mindset changes very rapidly.”

Mr. Tanguay didn’t suggest benching Benn until he improved. He didn’t suggest bag skating him, or demoting him to the fourth line, or taking away his special teams time. He suggested using positive feedback to re-fuel and re-energize him.  

If that approach works for a guy who gets paid $9.5 million a year to play hockey — surely that’s enough motivation in and of itself, right? — imagine what it might do for a nine or ten or 14-year old kid who just plays the game for love.

PowerPlayer was designed to enable private, one to one communication between coaches and players. It was essentially designed to help coaches do exactly the kind of personal coaching that Alex Tanguay was talking about. We believe that continuous communication is essential to teaching and, like Mr. Tanguay, we believe in the motivational power of positivity to help athletes deal with the emotional ups and downs that come with being a competitor.

So if you’re a coach, why not coach like the pros? Why not coach your players up? Use PowerPlayer to encourage and reinforce your players with the odd highlight video, positive comment, or rating that acknowledges their attitude and effort and compete level. 

I could be wrong, but I’m guessing that Alex Tanguay and Jamie Benn might agree that every player can benefit from a little more of that stuff. Because when players know that their coaches believe in them, they’re more likely to believe in themselves.

And who knows? One day, one of your former players might end up on an NHL Network panel, talking about what someone did for them not just as a coach — but also as a friend.


Photo: Lisa Gansky



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