As he rides the bike watching Sport highlights Stacy Roest is still holding his own in the retired hockey player workout department. No matter how much we razz each other, it’s all based on respect, fun and friendship. He is one of the most respectful men I have ever met. Stacy Roest had a great career in the sport of Hockey. 17 years in the NHL and Europe with the high-powered Detroit Red Wings and the Minnesota Wild. He concluded his career with 9 seasons with Rapperswil in Switzerland and was a member of Team Canada in 6 Spengler cups before he hung up his stakes as a player. He now continues a career in the NHL community as The Director of player development for the Tampa Bay Lightning.
I spent many years training Stacy through the summer with fellow trainees Chris Osgood, Eric Godard, Steve Kelly, Tyler Wright and Matt Higgins. Still not sure which one was the biggest talker!
I was interested in learning more from Stacy and his experiences as Director of player development in Tampa, his view on Minor hockey and youth today, the growth of the sport and his hockey journey through the years. We did this all with only one jab about my taste in music!
The difference for me as a trainer with these guys is I never felt I had to really PUSH them MORE. They pushed themselves, they pushed each other! They HAD to beat the other guy. That work ethic showed and that is one reason they played so many years in the pros. How important was that to Stacy? “At that level it’s so important to train with the same sport athletes and someone who can push you to a higher level”. They wouldn’t allow the other to beat them, they worked hard and they had to because staying at the pro level is a challenge in itself. “No matter how hard you work, there is always someone working harder than you. You have to have that mentality”. Two standouts for Stacy in the workout department throughout his career were Steve Yzerman and Chris Draper from the Red Wings. “Those two guys were the hardest workers I’ve ever seen in the gym. They taught me so much about work ethic”. That work ethic is a perfect example on the length of their career and their play on the ice.
How does this apply to the 17/18 year old player? So many are on the same level and it’s the extra effort off the ice that shows. How well is their 3rd period performance? Do they have the conditioning level that allows that great play to continue? “If they are good in the 1st period, they have to be good in the 3rd, and that is good conditioning”.
“Those are the game breakers, the players who continue great play through 3 periods and who are able to score the big goals in the 3rd period”.
Good advice to prospects that Stacy works with and to younger players who feel they have a shot at the big league!
As a trainer I see the toll a long season takes on the body. Hockey is such a fast, physical sport. Non-contact injuries or aches and pains that make their way around a dressing room seem to be consistent everywhere in Hockey. “Groins, back, hips were always the same areas that would be a complaint from players”. This is why a structured off-ice training program is so important! “It’s so important to get good training to keep you healthy and extend your career”
Skill development is also a key factor. “You can always improve your skating, your stick handling, shooting. These are skills that the pros still put countless hours in. If you think you have the skill, work harder, be better. Always look for improvement in skill development”. Work ethic wasn’t an issue for Stacy throughout those summers of training. He worked hard, he pushed himself!
“You must always ask yourself when you look in the mirror, are you proud of the work ethic you gave? That is always the one thing you can control”
I spent some time talking to Stacy about youth development and the growth of Hockey in Canada. What it is like to be a coach and father of a son who plays. He had a quick response to one of my first questions. What he felt was one downfall in minor hockey today. “Too much emphasis on winning” He made a great point. How can we keep the numbers up? How can we avoid kids quitting the sport we both love? Is that emphasis on winning pushing young kids away from the fun of hockey? Stacy also sees the importance of skill development. Through his years in Switzerland he experienced their emphasis on skill development compared to system development. Skating, stick handling, protecting the puck…. Skills that make you a better player! “You can practice break outs, power plays, penalty kills all you want but if you can’t skate, if you can’t shoot, if you can’t pass, if you can’t protect the puck then you are missing the mark”
What about multi-sports? Year long hockey is the norm for so many kids. We both agreed on the importance of multi-sports and how this makes a well rounded athlete. This topic was a no-brainer!
As both our kids make their way through Minor Hockey the controversial topic of hitting came up. Should there be? Should there not? What is right? By taking hitting out of rep at this level is it keeping players in the game longer? Are the smaller players enjoying the game longer? “Does this improve skill development because you have the ability to carry the puck a bit longer?” I had a conversation in the summer with clients Aaron Volpatti, (Washington Capitals), Jerred Smithson (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Brady Brassart (Calgary Hitmen) about hitting at the pee wee level. It’s interesting to get their views with all the experience between these players, they give some great feedback.
“Who is teaching them to hit?” Is there so much growth difference at the bantam level that it isn’t a good age to introduce hitting? Should it return to pee wee? We could debate this topic forever but Stacy brings a good question to the table. “Are we teaching our kids to take a hit and finish their check or are we just teaching them to ram other players into the boards?” Through his minor hockey Stacy remembers being taught to finish checks and to stay in the play. It wasn’t about big hits or head shots. With the controversy of fighting, head shots and concussions it comes down to the players. “It’s respect for each other as a player. The only way it can be cleaned up is by the players, the players at every level”
Between sport highlights and making sure his wife, Billie, was training hard in the next room we ended the conversation with something that stuck with me. We talked about parental involvement in sport. “We all want our kids to succeed, hockey is a commitment, it cost money but as a parent how are you going to deal with decisions and outcomes. If your child gets cut from a team are you going to move forward? Will you learn from it to make yourself a better player? Our reaction as parents clearly plays a role in how our children respond. They react how we react”
It’s another controversial topic because we all know too well the negative situations that some parents can create while they are living their dream through their child.
“As a player my one regret was being too hard on myself early in my career. If something happens and you make a mistake, learn from it and get better… improve”
Thanks Stacy. We spent some quality time without making fun of each other! I wouldn’t have it any other way. We keep each other on our toes! Now stop complaining about my music and give me my Tampa shirt?