When I retired from hockey I knew I wanted to spend more time with my family, but I also loved the sport of hockey. I had opportunities to make coaching hockey my next career, and I was very interested. The idea of working with a group of players to build them up, and make them better, was something that really appealed to me. There were so many coaches that spent time with me throughout the years and I felt like I could help out the next generation.
In the end, having the flexibility to be with my very young family on a daily basis trumped the urges to get into coaching full time. I chose my family over my career ambitions and I parked the professional coaching idea on the back burner. Fast forward a few months and I was approached by Our Lady of Mount Carmel School to work with their young students on the ice. From the very first session, I fell in love. The kids are incredible to work with and I always look forward to skating with that group.
I was then asked by a friend of mine to help out with his group of youngsters who happened to be D-men. I went out and skated with them 10 times or so, and I worked with them on refining the finer points of being a defenseman. Teaching kids to play defense was right in my wheelhouse! I realized during those sessions how hard it is to play the position and that I have experience that I can share.
There is no doubt in my mind that defense is the hardest skating position to master in hockey, and the position that every team from Novice to the NHL is looking to fill by players that can get the job done. You can ask anyone involved in the game — there are never enough good defensemen to go around. It is a critical position for any team.
These days defensemen are required to defend against opposing forwards that continue to get faster every season. They are asked to get back into their zone quickly, retrieve the puck, and make a quick breakout pass under pressure. For teams to score goals, defenseman also need to be able to jump up into the play to help create offense. If the attack fails, those same defensemen will need to cover up for any mistakes that end up going the other way. It is a lot to ask, at any level.
With all this in mind, I started my own D-man development camp that runs in the spring (May 14th and 15th), and summer (August 22nd-26th). We will work on all the areas of the defense position including stick position, gap control, finding shooting lanes and much more. The list is very long but everyone will learn a lot, in a fun and encouraging environment.
But I need the help of the OilersNation. I would like to pay it forward for all the help I had growing up here in Edmonton. Since we all know that hockey is expensive, I would like to host three players for whom a camp like mine may be a stretch financially. If you have a player in mind please shoot me an email at [email protected].
If you need any further information for the camp you can see all the details at jasonstrudwick.com.
Thanks for your help.