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SLBAM: The family challenges of having a trainer move often

What’s up gang. The return to normal life for our family doesn’t hurt. Our long vacation’s over, field hockey’s starting up again soon, my boy’s birthday’s coming up. In short, August is here and it shows.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t answer your questions for another week. Youhou.

I could make a list of 100 players, honestly, because there are so many. I could talk about players of the present or even of the past. Then the list could be even bigger. Anyway, I’ll go by one position and one present and one past.

Sidney Crosby is at the top of my list for his work ethic, plain and simple. Just look at the videos of him over the summer with MacKinnon and you can see why he’s the best player in the world (yes, there’s McDavid too).

Just watch him behave, on and off the ice. He’s certainly one of the few players from whom coaches can learn more by talking to him than the other way around.

A Joe Sakic, McDavid or Selanne would be other players I’d like too.

For the defenders, I have no choice but to go with Makar. What a player, all offense, but good defensively with his anticipation and speed. He brings a new dimension to the NHL and has just paved a new path for defensemen.

His vision, agility, speed and field hockey sense are all good reasons to want to work with him. Otherwise, a Bourque or Lidstrom would be my other choices.

Well, I’ll go with a flat answer, but I don’t manage much when family follows.

There’s only one place where they didn’t follow me and that was in Russia, for language reasons and also because there were no English schools in my town and my wife was studying full-time (nursing).

If we take our first big move to the Saguenay, we got our answer late and took a round-trip day to visit houses for rent. My wife was behind me, pushing me to go.

Same thing when we went to Manitoba, same thing for Russia and so on. My wife is the one who believes in me the most, but above all, who makes me go for it. I’m not convinced that I would have reached the professional level without her.

The first few moves weren’t without their headaches, but now that we’re used to moving regularly, we’ve picked up a few tricks that make things easier. We could have a membership with UHaul without any problem.

When we leave, we buy our UHaul boxes, which are simple, efficient and very sturdy. We’re able to do two moves without any problems with the boxes. Then we rent a big truck and a trailer to pull one of our cars.

If you take our move from the Saguenay to Manitoba, it was quite complicated, thank you. My wife was pregnant with our son, our fourth child, and I had just accepted the position of assistant coach in the Manitoba junior league.

Except that my little boy was born later than expected, and we had no place to live since our lease had expired. So we decided to buy a 36-foot Class A motorhome.

We then spent part of the summer with my parents or my wife’s parents, until my wife gave birth and we could leave. In the meantime, I had already flown to Manitoba to sign my contract and find a house to live in. It was a big shot in titi, haha.

Once my son was born on August 2 (I started work on August 15), we left on the morning of the 10th, my wife, I, the four kids (including an eight-day-old baby) and our three cats, in a motor home I’d never driven in my life.

So you can see the kind of family we have.

Then we moved to the suburbs of Winnipeg and had no place to live, again, since I hadn’t signed a new contract – at least, I had turned it down and we wanted to enjoy western Canada.

So we spent our summer taking motorhomes out to the Rockies.

When we came back to Quebec just before the COVID, we sent my wife and the kids by plane – it was less trouble. My father came to join me and we went down in the UHaul with our van behind and the three cats.

We slept in Ontario the first night and the second day, I drove for 20 hours non-stop and arrived at our new house (which we had bought via FaceTime, as we couldn’t visit in Quebec) at about 4am.

So less than 48 hours to get back.

When I went to Russia, it was a little simpler. The first time, I stayed at the hotel next to the arena. It shares the same parking lot, so I didn’t have too much trouble.

The second year, I rented a new furnished condo downtown. So I had to go and buy a few things and that was that.

The hardest thing about being in Russia was that my wife was in school full-time, so she had internships. So sometimes she had to leave before the kids got up in the morning.

So the older children had to take on the role of big sister and make sure the younger ones got breakfast, dressed and on the bus on time.

In the event of an offer going elsewhere one day, the family is likely to follow (unless we’re talking about Russia). For the past year, the kids have been saying every day that they’d like to move, and that they miss discovering the world and being able to walk around.

Even when I was in Russia, the children wanted to come. We’re not an ordinary family, but we’re a whole team and our dynamic has never been as good as it is right now, and that’s fun.

All the same, moves are expensive. The first time we moved from Saguenay to Dauphin, we hired movers because my wife was pregnant. Unfortunately, this put us in a bind, as my organization ultimately decided not to reimburse us.

It hurt a lot, because we’re not just talking about a $5,000 move, but for the rest, we’re always a bit innocent in our moves in the sense that we leave and see what happens, but we’re ready for anything.

Phew, the question. I don’t think so. He would surely have been traded after a few years and then we would have seen all his talent, or he would have been destroyed. Falling into the Bruins organization was the best thing for him.

We know how patient fans are with young players, or with Quebecers, or even with players who are in a slump. Normally, it never ends well.

With the Habs line-up at the time, even if Bergeron is incredible, I don’t think he would have been able to bring a Cup to Montreal.

But if we were talking about Bergeron and he was the same in Montreal as he was in Boston. He would have seriously changed the face of the CH, and for the better. He would have been able to grow young players, bring in free agents and bring a culture to the team.

Yes and no. I haven’t had to change it, but I have had to adapt it. One of my strengths is listening and analysis.

So when I left, when I was asked what role I wanted to take on, I mentioned what I liked, but above all, that I wanted to be behind, to support, to watch and to learn, because it’s different. So everyone in place didn’t need to change roles either.

In my first practices, technically speaking on the ice, I had to adjust quickly, because there are certain things that are automatic. For example, physical strength changes enormously between men and women.

For example, if you change the point of attack, the men can do it from the top of the circles, from the backhand, and the puck will go to the opposite side of the net. With women, I quickly learned that it was difficult and I had to adapt.

The other thing that’s very different is the approach too. In the masculine, we talk about a professional/business approach (not that the feminine isn’t professional, you’ll understand).

Since bantam, guys have been used to lining up according to the opposing team, shortening the bench, changing lines because things aren’t going well. They don’t always agree, but they know what’s going on and that’s part of life.

On the women’s side, it’s more difficult and different, because it’s not a business mode like the men’s, so you have to be careful. And that’s perfectly normal.

So word selection is very important, something I have no trouble with, because with me, we’re talking black or white, there’s no gray. No gray, no room for interpretation.

Otherwise, good college girls, technically speaking, you can push them like men without any problem, and they want to learn like in men’s field hockey.

They love the video, they love the time you take with them one by one on the ice before or after practice, and you see the results almost immediately.

I’d advise any field hockey coach to go and spend a season with women’s hockey or to go and coach women’s hockey, because I think it’s a win-win situation, especially for the coaches.

On the other hand, I’ve already mentioned my little downside: women’s field hockey needs to take on the next level if the girls want their product to grow. What I mean by that is to take field hockey a little more businesslike, because we have to prepare the girls for that.

We’ve seen it with the PHF and PWHPA and the shock it’s caused. But with the men, it’s like that every year. You get a contract, you don’t do the job anymore, you go to the minors and we don’t talk about it anymore.

But yes, after my first year with the Université de Montréal, I’m a bigger coach and I’m already looking forward to my second year, because I’ll be able to really use all my resources and push the girls and the program even more.


That wraps up this week’s questions. Once again, a huge thank you to all of you and we’ll see you next week. @Mitch_Giguere.

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