Event Held: Saturday December 10, 2022

This years event included presentations from Brendan Shanahan, Sheldon Keefe, Kyle Dubas and other members of the Toronto Maple Leafs coaching staff.

(Note: Photos from https://www.leafsdevelopment.com/coachesopenhouse)

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Meeting some alumni

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the Tim Hortons Leafs Coaches Open House at Scotiabank Arena.

It was an amazing event.  Not only did we get some Leafs swag, but we got to listen to and watch Leafs coaches run on ice drills.  We got to watch the Leafs game day skate, then we got to hear from Brendan Shanahan (President), Sheldon Keefe (Head Coach) and Kyle Dubas (General Manager).  What a privilege it was to hear from upper management of the Toronto Maple Leafs about how they approach coaching, motivating and inspiring their team and staff. 

The icing on the cake was that we got to meet two Leafs’ alumni, Shayne Corson (Leaf from 2000-2003) and Nik Antropov (Leaf from 1999-2009).  My takeaway from meeting these former professional athletes is that they’re regular people.  Sure, they’re huge guys and super talented at hockey, but apart from that, they’re just regular people.  They’re having a human experience just like the rest of us.  Full of ebbs and flows, experiencing different states of mind, challenges, doubts, joy and happiness. 

Go Leafs GO!

Last night I was at my nephew’s game, and it did not end well. From the first shift of the game to when the refs decided to end the game with over 5 minutes left on the clock, it was a rough one. This is a “no hitting” league yet there were countless body check penalties assessed, several “hit to the head” penalties, taunting and an altercation with the opposing team’s entire bench and coaches that led to calling the game early. You would think the Stanley Cup was on the line or something, but nope, this is just a Monday night, regular season game, that in truth doesn’t mean anything.

The incidents from this game reminded of this quote I heard from Brendan Shanahan at the Tim Hortons Leafs Coaches Open House this past weekend. Despite winning the game (assuming the results counts), my nephew’s team now has two players suspended and I think it’s fair to say that not one person left the rink last night feeling happy or with even a shred of enjoyment from the experience. That being said, I think the players and coaches left with some tough lessons learned.

I hope the coaches from both teams reflect on what happened, how they contributed to the escalation of events throughout the game and that they realize that part of their role is to manage and avoid situations like this. Sure, it’s easy to blame the other guy, or blame the ref (as the parents vocally and vulgarly did all game), but true leaders look within, take responsibility and lead by example. These are some of the insights I work with my clients on so that they can have a more pleasant and fulfilling experience of hockey and life in general.

This was just some of the advice shared by Toronto Maple Leafs Head Coach, Sheldon Keefe, at the recent Tim Hortons Leafs Coaches Open House event that I attended.

I found it interesting that even at the highest level of sports, having fun is so important. Coach Keefe talked about keeping the fun in the game, in practices, in everything the team does. It’s part of their culture and their identity. I often think of sports as a microcosm of life and as such I’d apply this advice of having fun to life in general.

It’s easy to have fun when you’re winning, like the Leafs are now days, or when you’re on a hot streak like Mitch Marner is with a 23-game point streak, but what about when things aren’t going your way. How do you have fun then?

A couple questions that come to mind for me are:
Does winning create the fun? or
Does having fun create the winning?

Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas says that everything they do has a purpose and is trying to achieve a specific objective. Whether it’s a game plan, a designed play, a puck battle in the corner, a drill in practice, everything is for a purpose and is to achieve an objective. It’s the proverbial ‘begin with the end in mind’ (circa Stephen Covey, Habit 2 of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People).

This paradigm also applies to the coaching I do. When working with clients I help them get in touch with and understand their purpose and their objective.

What is their dream come true result?
What would they like the result of our session together to be?

This guides everything we do together.

Are you clear on your purpose and objective?

With a new year around the corner, now is a great time to consider such questions and to consider if you were to achieve your purpose and objectives, what would that get you that you otherwise wouldn’t have?

What a powerful message from the President of the Toronto Maple Leafs. A message that coaches can use, but also a message for all of us. In some way, we’re all coaches to someone. It might be a child, a friend, a colleague, or even a stranger, that you influence, and you might not even realize it at the time.

The way you show up in your life, in everyday situations, can have a profound impact on the people around you. Are you demonstrating love for the game, love for your job, love for your customers and colleagues, love for life?

As a coach, a manager, and a father, I want to help people love the game.


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