Many hockey articles start with "I'm not much of a hockey fan myself" or "Hockey isn't really my forte". Or, they focus on the superstars of the NHL like, Sid the Kid Crosby and Alexander the Great Ovechkin. Here in Boston, the Bruins second playoff appearance in as many years got the town and its writers buzzing about hockey again. It's a sport that sits on the back-burner for many sports fans and writers.
But what about those people who are die-hard hockey fans all day, every day?
Helicopter Hockey Parents
There are parents who wake their children up at 3 AM on a Sunday to bring them out on the pond for suicides and sprints. Some kids don't even want to play hockey, yet they persist because they're afraid to disappoint their mothers and fathers who expect them to be the next Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe.
Children playing youth hockey are driven by their parents every single day for the entire year to eat, sleep and breathe hockey. At first, the kid may be excited by the new sport, but these helicopter hockey parents overwork their kids to the point of burnout. Hovering parents often cause careers to end far too early. Hockey burnout is not only when you are tired of skating and need a rest, but also when you have reached complete burnout for the sport itself.
There have been players in recent years who were expected to go to the NHL and make immediate impacts but they never got any ice time because of hockey burnout. Players who have been driven too hard by their over-exhausting hockey parents lose the passion to play the game. Burnout makes the game feel like a chore rather than a sport to enjoy and have fun with.
More to Life Than Hockey
Unsuspecting hockey parents fail to realize that their child could be the next Stefan Legein or Dan Ryder. Stefan Legein was a 2nd round pick for the Columbus Blue Jackets (37th overall) in the 2007 NHL Draft. Legein was expected to be the next big thing in the NHL. A 19 year old Right Wing, Stefan played for Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championships and skated away with a gold medal. Stefan suffered a seperated shoulder in that gold medal game.
The injury added to Legein's hockey burnout and he never made it to the Blue Jackets rookie camp. Stu Cowan of the Montreal Gazette wrote about Legein and his encounters with burnout:
Legein, who had 43 goals, 32 assists and 115 penalty minutes in 64 games with the Ontario Hockey League's Mississauga IceDogs in 2006-07 before being drafted by Columbus, suffered a separated shoulder in the gold-medal game at last season's world junior championship. The word out of Columbus is that while recovering from shoulder surgery, the Oakville, Ont., native had time to get reacquainted with his childhood friends and realized there is more life than hockey.
Simply put, Legein lost his desire to play the game. Children are starting to play in youth league hockey as early as 9 years old and their parents push them harder and harder to develop better skating and stick handling skills each passing year. The parents who push their child to be the next Sidney Crosby are just the ones who are sending their youngsters into early retirement.
How to Spot a Burnt Out Kid
The Columbus Blue Jackets released an article about burnout and some signs to recognize if your son or daughter has reached his/her peak:
Moodiness or irritability
Fatigue or difficulty waking up in the morning
Poor performance in sports, school, or other activities
Loss of interest
Lack of emotion after a win or a loss
Loss of appetite
Unusual focus on aches and pains
Problems with friends
With everything else a teen has to encounter in life such as school, social skills and fraternization with the opposite sex, they have enough pressure already. To all you helicopter hockey parents out there pushing your kid over the limit to live your dream, think about your child and their future before you are the cause of their burnout.
Thanks to DVS Photographer for the skates and helmet picture.