Thursday, August 29, 2013

One Hour Of Magic

Hockey Practice.
One hour of magic.
A time when real time doesn't matter. When problems temporarily disappear.
When a new identity becomes reality. Heart rates increase. Lungs expand. Legs burn. Strength appears.
One hour of magic.
Coaches yell. Coaches coach. Coaches teach. Coaches get lost in the moment. Coaches become kids again. 
Players work. Players sweat. Players bond. Players get lost in the moment. Players are allowed to be kids, even when they are no longer kids.
An hour that is the same to a pee wee as it is to an NHL player.
Some psychiatrists charge $250 an hour. Some hours of ice cost $250 an hour.......divided by twenty.
An hour that hurts. An hour that feels great.
One hour of magic.
New things are tried. New skills learned. Old habits removed. New habits instilled.
Confidence nurtured. Laziness deterred.
An hour that moves faster than any hour of math class. When friendships are forged. Leadership abilities appear.
One hour of magic.
Family members for a moment are forgotten. New family members embraced. Illness and sickness are gone. 20 bodies are exercised in unison. One common thread becomes a rope. A team.
Hockey practice.

One hour of magic.

Kerry Huffman
'Member of the NHL Alumni Association"

Kerry's Bio

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Dad, what's a Lockout?

Dad, what’s a Lockout?

‘Poor man wanna be rich,
rich man wanna be king,
and the king ain’t satisfied till he loses everything……’

Bruce Springsteen

You have to love it when your nine year old son asks questions that make you think harder about things than you usually do.

This one wasn’t quite as challenging as “Where do babies come from?” But none the less was just about as difficult to answer.

There has been so much talk in the media about the pending NHL lockout so I guess at some point I was going to be asked.

I tried to answer him as best I could. Now keep in mind being a former player and a player representative during two work stoppages, I am pretty biased. But trying to be a good Dad I thought I would try to explain the situation as best I could giving both sides of the argument.
I think I may have failed miserably… Here is how it kind of went:

“Dad, what is a lockout?”

“Well son, the owners of the teams and the players don’t have a working agreement that the owners like so they have the right to lock the players out from playing.”

“Doesn’t anyone else have keys to the rinks to get in to play???”

“No son, it is not that simple. The owners don’t want to pay the players as much to play. They want to reduce their salaries. Sort of if like Mom and I wanted to pay you less allowance we would lower it to a level we felt was fairer.”

“Don’t get any ideas…..”

So they are not going to have a season until they agree on something. They will eventually.”


“I don’t know.”

“So when will we see a game again?”

“I don’t know.”

“That stinks. But Dad, don’t they sign contracts or something? Those guys are the best players in the world….they should get paid good.”

“Well, they do. Really well. And they just want to continue to get paid well.”

“So then the guys who own the teams won’t play the games at their rinks?”


“But don’t they make money from the games?”

“Yes, but they want a better deal.”

“Gotcha. Well if they pay the guys less, when we go to the games the popcorn is going to be cheaper!”

“Well, maybe not. They have a lot of expenses and a lot of people to pay.”

“Hey yea, what about the Zamboni drivers?”

“What about them?”

“Do they still have jobs if they don’t have ice to do?”

“Good question.”

“What about the refs? They’ll probably find some other games to ref, right? Maybe they will do some of ours!”


“So the players want to keep playing, and the owners make money on the games, but they aren’t going to play the games…..I don’t get it.”

“It is very confusing for everyone.”

“What about the Stanley Cup?”

“What about it?”

“Do the Kings get to keep it and keep taking it to their homes?”

“No, they have to probably give it back.”

“To who?”

“The league I guess.”

“So the owners own the cup?”

“I never thought of it like that but I guess they do.”

“But the players win it……”

“Yes they do. Can we get back to your first question?”

“So no one gets paid, no one gets to watch hockey and the owners teams don’t get to play each other. That’s a Lockout.”

“You got it.”

“This is stupid. The players should just go play somewhere else.”

“Some of them will. They will go to Europe to keep playing.”

“Wow, Europe is far. They should start their own league here…….”

“Well, it’s not that easy. The NHL is so big and powerful. It would be impossible to recreate. It’s like a Monopoly kind of.”

“Ooh, Monopoly is awesome!!! Especially if you land on Boardwalk or Park Place……”

Good talk son……

Let’s just hope both sides pass Go and collect their $200.00 soon.
Twitter  @khuffman5

Friday, September 7, 2012



“I always love the feel of sweat on my shirt, Stand back son and let a man work.
Let a man work is that so wrong, I woke up this morning shackled and drawn…..”

Shackled and Drawn
Bruce Springsteen

Well, it is one week after Labor Day weekend. There is talk of an upcoming work stoppage in the world of hockey. Two national political conventions are now over and the focal point of both was work (or the lack thereof). A friend of mine emailed me asking about my break from writing my blog. He told me to get back to work. So what better theme to ramble on about than work?

Believe me, doing my blog does not feel like work. It is far from it!
But as we get older the lines get a little blurred between what is work and what we are doing that makes us feel good and proud of ourselves. The whole definition of work seems to change as time marches on.
I have had good jobs, I have had bad jobs.  I have worked with some good companies, worked with some not so good companies.  Sometimes it felt like I was working, sometimes it didn’t. There were times when I wasn’t working that it seemed like I was working my ass off to find work.  Recently in a mild mid- life crisis, I decided I would run a marathon this coming November. I was told the training was going to be a lot of work. An incredible amount of work. I am now working up to over 20 mile runs. But guess what? The work has morphed into love and passion. I can’t wait to work at it most mornings.

So then what really is work? Well I am sure everyone is entitled to feel any way they want about it or describe it as they choose.
I kind of look at it like this.

I work in order to be, not simply exist. To work is human. Work opens the door to the meaning of life and stops it from being boring and dull. Work is being creative.
I used to think work was a burden. Something I had to get through. Something I had to do for money or security.
If you feel that way you are missing the creative dynamic of work and how it can enable you to feel good about yourself. If we’re lucky enough, we try to shape our work to fit our lives……
Ok, that is deep enough. This is supposed to be a fun hockey blog. So how does all this relate to hockey? I’ll give it a try.

There was always times when I played during the season when the game felt like work. Boy was I wrong. It was challenging for sure but age has taught me that something you love doing that much should never be called work. I hope as parents and coaches we pass that along to our young players. They have their whole lives to figure out what they are going to do for work, AFTER they are done PLAYING.

Players are described as having incredible work ethics. Is it work ethic or do they just love being good, the feeling of getting better, and are willing to endure challenging times to achieve that feeling?

How many times after a hockey game have you seen a team win and the coach gets up in front of a microphone and blurts, “We deserved to win tonight, we outworked them…..” If you ask any pro player they will tell you it always feels more like fun than work when you win. The work feels like it comes during losing streaks…..
So here’s something for the young coaches out there, just a suggestion. Try encouraging your players “to out fun the other team tonight!” It’s worth a shot. It seemed to work with our mite team at times last year….

And one more thing on the topic…..

Let’s all pray that there won’t be a work….I mean a fun stoppage in the NHL again this year…….

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Hockey Father's Day

This is obviously one of the greatest weekends of the year. It is Father’s Day weekend and the U.S. Open is on. There is not a whole lot of hockey going on with the end of the NHL season just wrapping up. There are only a few showcase events being played around the country right now but it is unquestionably the best weekend of the year to think about hockey dads everywhere. Some are still with us. Some are not. But they are all loved and I know it is because many of them share or shared some amazing qualities that I am sure you will recognize and agree with.

So please take a break from golf this weekend and join me in taking a moment to say, "Thanks Dad……

-for introducing me to the greatest game on the planet. (and golf too.)
-for getting up with me in the freezing cold to go to practice before school when the car would only start if you plugged it in overnight.
-for having the patience to watch me learn.
-for taking me to Maple Leaf Gardens and allowing me to dream.
-for letting me pick my own team to cheer for.
-for encouraging me when I played well.
-for encouraging me when I played bad.
-for making me work as hard at school as I did on the ice.
-for informing me that Tim Horton was a whole lot more than a donut store owner.
-for keeping Mom calm when I got hurt.
-for keeping Mom calm when I played well.
-for keeping Mom calm when I played bad.
-for keeping Mom calm when I left home.
-for just keeping Mom calm……
-For teaching me how to be a teammate.
-for not yelling at the refs.
-for teaching me that it only hurts for a little while.
-for being tough when it was right.
-for being right when it was tough…..
-for tying my skates when I know your back killed you….
-for rubbing my frozen toes when you took my skates off.
-for making me carry my own hockey bag.
-for buying me that new stick when you probably couldn’t afford it but also…
-for teaching me that sticks don’t score goals, players do…
-for driving all weekend to get to tournaments on some pretty slick roads.
-for teaching me that the game is important.
-for teaching me the game is not the most important.
-for being there for me when I couldn’t play anymore….
-for reminiscing about all the good times we had at the rink.
-for not remembering the tough ones…..

and most importantly…..

-for making sure I introduced his grandson to the greatest game on the planet. (and golf too……)"

Thanks Dads.
Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 25, 2012

School's Out.....Now what? Ask Barney.

It's that special time of year when the school year is coming to an end and young hockey players everywhere are thinking, "Great! Time to sit back for a while and do nothing....."
Well that's not the advice we give those who are anxious to achieve scholarships or financial aid packages in the future. In fact it's just the opposite. It's time to plan, get organized and be ready to seek more information. Yes, that's right, learning even when not in school.
Last week this flog focused on some recruiting advice and we got some great feedback. People had some great questions so I thought we would build on that and get into the academic issues even deeper.
When I wrote "ask Barney" in the title, I did not mean the purple Dinosaur. I wanted to get some expert feedback from someone so I asked Craig Barnett, (Barney)who is the Director of Player Placement for our company to help out. Craig's vast experience and knowledge pertaining to the process allows him to give valuable advice.

1985-1989 - Student-athlete at Plattsburgh State (NCAA III) - NCAA Champions
1989-1991 - Player in NY Ranger system (Flint IHL, Binghamton AHL, and Erie ECHL)
1991-1993 - Assistant Coach, Mercyhurst College (NCAA II)
1993-1994 - Assistant Coach, Kent State University (NCAA I)
1995-2002 - Head Hockey Coach, University of Findlay (NCAA I and III)
2002-2004 - Hockey Director / Assistant Athletic Director, Lake Forest Academy (Prep)
2004-2006 - Director of Athletics / Head Hockey Coach, Becker College (NCAA III)
2006-2009 - Director of Athletics, Mercyhurst College (NCAA II, NCAA I hockey)

I asked Craig for 7 bullet points relating to the academic process and issues potential college bound players and families should be thinking about and addressing. Here is his advice. Hope you can use some of it.

"Academically speaking, some questions families should be thinking of and asking colleges/coaches especially during visits:"

1. What type of academic support services are offered? For example, tutoring, extended time for test, academic advisors for student-athletes, resource rooms availability, extra assistance for students with diagnosed learning challenges, etc, etc. 

 2. Does the athletic department offer any of these services (mentioned above) specifically for student-athletes or is it all provided through the general student body?

 3. Does the college offer priority registration for classes for student-athletes - thus, give them more flexibility to take tougher classes in "off-season" and also allows to build their academic calendar around team practice and meeting times.
4. What is the colleges retention rate? What is the colleges APR score (NCAA Academic Progress Report)?  Are there any teams falling under the NCAA minimum standard?
5. What about summer classes - are those costs included in my athletic scholarship/financial aid package?

 6. Are there any other expenses above and beyond tuition, fees, room and board that are not covered by scholarships? For example, books, health insurance, travel home at breaks, etc.

7. Do High School AP classes transfer into this particular schools curriculum for college credit?

You can contact Barney at:
 (814) 449.9868

Or If you see him at the rink over the summer at the many showcase events, make sure you say hello or ask him any questions you might have. You'll recognize him. He will be the one in purple. :)

Thanks Craig! Great job.

Everyone have a safe and happy Memorial Day weekend and remember who our real heroes are. The men and women of our armed forces that give us the freedom to enjoy our great game. Try to say thank you to one of them if you can.
Kerry Huffman Platinum Hockey Group/Cardinal Sports 609-339-5156
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Sunday, May 20, 2012


Recently I was fortunate enough to spend some time at the College Hockey Coaches convention in Naples, Florida. It was great to spend some time away from a rink with coaches and get an insight into some of their thinking.

While talking with one of the very well known coaches from a major division one school about a possible recruit for their program, I heard him describe the player in a very unique way.   He said to me, "yes we really like him a lot as a player but we are going to pass.....he needs a major Parentectomy....." It took me a very short time to realize that they were not going to offer him a scholarship because of the actions of his parents.....
It got me thinking quite a bit about the recruiting and scouting process of young players and how many different factors can affect the situation. I thought I would share this with everyone.

One of the most important factors that schools and junior programs do consider is what is the players' family like? Specifically what are the parents like?

I discussed it with our staff we decided to come up with five simple points of advice for parents. Specifically parents who have young players that are getting to that 14-15 year old age when the recruitment and scouting process starts to pick up and the game seems to change from just a game to a business opportunity for some. 
This is only our opinion and advice we are offering. We are parents too and have made many mistakes just like everyone else so take from it what you will. We have seen many players get recruited successfully and there are some common traits. Hopefully it helps prevent any more Parentectomies....
If you want more input please feel free to contact us anytime.

The five suggestions for Parents are:

1. Take a step back.
Be suggestive and be supportive but allow your young athlete to research things and make their own decisions concerning where to play and which route to travel. Trust their instincts. You've done an amazing job getting them to this point. Let it go a bit now, step back and watch the results of your good parenting. Enjoy the product of all the countless hours you spent driving all over the country drinking bad coffee and sitting in cold arenas spending time with your child. Let them begin to make their own decisions. It will then be their responsibility to make it work and usually they do.

2. The coach/gm is always right.
Always, always, always, always......Even when you don't agree with them and know they are wrong. I know how hard this can be for some parents to hear or agree with but trust me. A coach who has had his feathers ruffled by a parent can do more harm to a player in a thirty second conversation with a scout than any bad game or tournament can do. Scouts and recruiters are going to talk to these people and listen to what the coach has to say over anyone else 98% of the time.  They rarely will ever listen to what a parent has to say so stay away from them. The best thing you can ever do at this point is keep a great relationship with the coach.

3. Remember, there are more important things in life than hockey.
I know this is where we might lose some people, but it is very important. We try to encourage parents to remember, this is about what your student athlete is going to be like at age 19 and 20 not at 14. Their journey is not complete. It hss only just them become well rounded. Encourage other interests and challenges. Take good breaks from the game that will keep them hungry to play. Young players can burn and fizzle out from too much pressing and pushing. Also be aware that no matter how good they are, and I mean even if they are hall of fame caliber players, they will not be playing when they are forty years old. 

4. Encourage them to work as hard away from the rink as they do at it.
Too much time, money and resources are wasted on showcases, tryouts and many things that rarely pay off. Invest in a good marketing plan for the player. Build a resume and bio that stand out from the rest. Make sure you have the right schooling and class requirements.  Get powerful letters of reference from people that are not involved in hockey as well. Tell them to think of it like they are a lawyer. Tell them to build their case. They are going to trial and better be prepared. Remember these numbers. There are roughly 28,000 high school senior age boys registered to play hockey with USA Hockey. There are 59 Division I teams and 77 Division III teams. Each of those bring on average 6 new players a season to their rosters and about half of those are from the US… that means only 408 of the 28,000 registered players will get their chance to play in college. That represents roughly 1.5% of registered players. I'd say it's pretty competitive.

5. Enjoy the Process.
It should not be stressful. It goes very fast.....These are the last few seasons you will spend at the rink with your child. Be positive. It will be one of the last lessons you pass on to them. Positive, fun people get recruited way more!!!!! Think about it, who would you rather spend four years with......?

Kerry Huffman
Platinum Hockey Group
Member of the NHL Alumni Association

Monday, May 14, 2012

All I Ever Needed to Know......

As the hockey season has relatively slowed down and everyone takes a 'very little' break from the game I thought I would take a break from just hockey talk and share and article I found written by Robert Fulghum titled, "All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten."

My company does a lot of work with young hockey players trying to play College Hockey, so by no means is this intended to infer that they no longer pursue higher education. It is just a little something to get everyone thinking moving into the summer.
For all the graduates we worked with entering the 'real world', some great advice. Best of luck!


"All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten."

"Most of what I really know about life, I learned in Kindergarten. Wisdom was not at the top of the graduate school mountain, but here in the sandbox at nursery school.

These are the things I learned: Share everything. Play fair. Don't hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don't take things that aren't yours. Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life. Learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work some every day.

Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together. Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the plastic cup. The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that.

Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the plastic cup ~ they all die. So do we.

And then remember the book about Dick and Jane and the first word you learned, the biggest word of all: LOOK. Everything you need to know is in there somewhere. The Golden Rule and love and basic sanitation, ecology and politics and sane living.

Think of what a better world it would be if we all ~the whole world had cookies and milk about 3 o'clock every afternoon and then lay down with our blankets for a nap. Or if we had a basic policy in our nation and other nations to always put things back where we found them and clean up our own messes. And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out into the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together.

Kerry Huffman