It’s early and the panic button shouldn’t even be in the room, let alone pushed, but the Oceanside Generals have only one win in four home games this season.
Oh yes, before I pontificate on the great game of hockey, I should give you some form of resume. To keep it short, suffice to say that early in my journalistic career I was paid to write about junior hockey, mostly at the WHL and BCHL levels. I spent a lot of hours on a bus, ate loads of bad arena food and had the time of my life. After moving to news and then newsroom management, I continued to write about hockey on occasion, an absolute joy for the beat writers and editors who worked for me, I’m sure. I have also co-ordinated coverage for big junior hockey events like the Memorial Cup and World Juniors. Anyway, enough about me.
Well, almost enough. I plan to stick my nose and my columns into our sports section from time to time, likely in relation to the Generals. Hockey is the greatest sport in the world and it has never been faster and more full of skill than it is now.
You may find I’m a little harsh on occasion. Yes, these junior B players are still mostly teenagers living away from home and trying to juggle school, girlfriends and other young-person stuff I’m too old to remember, while having a demanding practice and game schedule. I get all that.
But it’s not Kansas (or minor hockey) anymore, and people are paying good money to watch and support VIJHL hockey and if I wanna boo I will boo (in print I mean). And right now I’m booing louder because I can’t remember the last time I actually paid to watch a junior hockey game while I was working for a newspaper. Yes, I’m notoriously cheap.
The last thing you should know about me in relation to hockey is there are 1,717 good reasons I should NOT be a coach at this level. Read my columns throughout the winter and I’m sure you’ll notice many of them.
Now, back to the Generals. It’s a moving target, this roster bingo coaches must play early in the season as players filter down from the WHL, BCHL and other leagues. An unsettling scenario for sure, but all the teams in the VIJHL face the same challenges. That brings me to the Generals’ blue line.
It has been getting better each game and it says here the performance of the defence corps will not be the chief concern of the coaching staff or fans as the season progresses. (The main area of concern is and will be the offensive production of the forwards – this team needs more gamebreakers, or at least needs to make more plays.)
As it is with any team, the 5-6-7 D-men on the depth chart often create challenges for coaches. Such is the case with the Generals right now.
Reason No. 49 why Harding should not coach junior hockey: I’d play my top four D-men so much they’d be dead by Christmas, never mind playoffs. With this Generals team, that means anyone not wearing jersey numbers 3, 5, 7 and 24 might as well bring a magazine to read on the bench during games while they work on foot speed and decision-making in practice.
Other observations from my first month of Generals hockey: