A quick look at the 2015-16 top five NHL rookie scorers shows an interesting bit of diversity on a few levels:
2 Americans, 2 Canadians and a Russian.
2 wings, 2 centers and a defenseman
and, most interesting to me, by birth year:
1 1991 (Artemi Panarin), 1 1993 (Shayne Gostisbehere), 1 1995 (Max Domi), 1 1996 (Jack Eichel), 1 1997 (Connor McDavid)
Hockey is a global game and the NHL is the pinnacle so it shouldn’t be surprising 3 countries are represented in the top 5 rookie scorers. It may be eye opening to some that one of the US players on the list is from Florida (Gostisbehere). Those that follow youth hockey closely have been made familiar with the Florida’s budding crop of hockey talent via a Florida Alliance ’04 team which is consistently ranked in the top 3 in the country, per MyHockeyRankings.com, even ahead of top programs with successful histories like the Chicago Mission and Little Caesars.
There has been a trend the last several years of encouraging defensemen to serve as 4th forward of sorts to create more offense. Erik Karlsson of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators was the 4th leading scorer in the NHL this year averaging a point a game so the inclusion of a defenseman, Gostisbehere, in the top 5 rookie scorers won’t be shocking to most folks.
The diversity of birth year is surprising and fascinating however. It’s probably because it feels like the hockey world is increasingly in a rush. Leaving mites earlier to play squirts. Leaving bantams earlier to play high school. Leaving high school and home earlier to play juniors. Leaving college and junior earlier to play pro. Examples are everywhere. There is an underlying urgency to get on and stay on an imagined fast track which can be challenging to resist. And I’m not going to argue that this fast track is not the right place to be for some players. It may very well be. Taking a look at the diversity of birth years in this year’s top 5 rookie scorers should remind us all, however, there are many paths which very well may lead to the same place. By all means jump on the fast track if that’s what you feel is best for your player and family. But if you’re unsure if that’s right for your situation then know that’s an ok decision too. Your path may end up leading to the same place. It’s ok to miss a tournament for a family vacation, to play multiple sports, to take some time away from the rink, to say no to that extra camp or opportunity. And, it’s ok to say yes to all of that. Either way, have confidence that you know your skater and your family situation better than anyone else. No one has your best interests in mind as much as you will. The key to it all is enjoying the path that you choose and not being concerned about doing what other people think is right. Constantly trying to keep up with other’s decisions or the perceived fast track is going to take away from the enjoyment of whatever path you choose. When the dust clears, I’m guessing it will be the journey, not the destination, which your family cherishes.
One other related observation I’ve always found confusing – the same people that tell parent’s to get away from the rink and avoid burning your player out are often the same people telling us how minute the chance’s anyone has of moving to the highest levels. So, let me get this straight, if there is very little chance of moving forward why is there such a concern of burning out? I understand repetitive use injuries are a real concern but that isn’t always what people are referring to. If the most fun your player can have this summer is to play in 9 tournaments than that seems like an ok idea. It may not get them to the NHL, but we’re told they don’t have much chance of that anyway so why not let them enjoy themselves. Or play no tournaments and spend the summer fishing at the lake. Or juggling baseball, summer hockey and playing with neighborhood friends. Only you can make that call and just know that whatever decision you make it’s probably the right one.