In this text, former NHL coach Bruce Boudreau shares his thoughts about how to motivate players. In doing so, he focuses specifically on how the Toronto Maple Leafs can get more out of forward William Nylander. Nylander has started slowly in the team’s playoff series against the Florida Panthers.
Boudreau discusses the challenges of coaching players with offensive talent but defensive lapses. He also talks about how coaches can find the right approach to get the best out of each player.
Veteran NHL Coach Bruce Boudreau Weighs in on the Issue with William Nylander
In the conversation below, Boudreau, Real Kyper, and Justin Bourne focus on motivating Nylander. Boudreau, who does most of the talking, believes motivating Nylander would require understanding his personality and what approach would work best for him.
Boudreau shares that he’s known Nylander for a long time. What he does know from experience is that he’s a sensitive guy. As a result, calling him out in public is not going to work. He’d likely shrink back into a shell. Differently, Boudreau notes that a better strategy would be to put an arm around him and express confidence in him.
That would be a far better approach than admonishing him in front of others or benching him.
Nylander Is a Constant Offensive Threat
Boudreau also notes that Nylander is a talented offensive player. He’s always a threat when he has the puck. However, he agrees that Nylander has defensive lapses. And, during the postseason that just doesn’t cut it.
The Maple Leafs need him to step up his game against the Panthers. Boudreau suggests that coaches need to find the “Achilles heel” of each player and use it to motivate them. Several strategies might involve giving them more ice time, patting them on the back, or even whispering in their ear to encourage them to do better.
Overall, it seems that motivating Nylander will require a combination of tough love and positive reinforcement. That includes a focus on building his confidence and encouraging him to trust in his abilities. Coach Sheldon Keefe will need to find the right balance between pushing Nylander to improve his defensive game and allowing him to play to his strengths as an offensive threat.
Three Key Points from the Boudreau Interview
Summarizing the interview, three key points were made.
Key Point One: The Maple Leafs will need to motivate William Nylander in Round 2 against the Panthers.
Key Point Two: As an old coach has learned, Boudreau believes NHL coaches should come to know their players well and use different approaches to motivate them based on their personalities and strengths.
Key Point Three: In an odd turn of an old phrase, Boudreau believes Maple Leafs’ coach Keefe should find the “Achilles heel” of each of his players (what motivates them to play better). He should then employ what he learns to make them better.
Some methods that might work include admonishing them in front of players, benching them, giving them more ice time, or putting their arms around them and encouraging them to do better.
The Bottom Line with Young NHL Players
In other words, former NHL coach Boudreau believes that coaches should do whatever they find works with each individual player.
To be the Devil’s Advocate for a bit. I don’t take Boudreau’s comments as the gospel truth. They come at an interesting time given what’s happening in Calgary with the Flames.
From the news emerging from the team, the impact of (former) coach Darryl Sutter’s strageties to movitabe players obviously were not well received. He obviously incorrectly strategized how to motivate Flames’ players and his players pushed back.
Personally, I simply cannot believe any professional hockey player would be motivated over the long term by being verbally criticized in public and in front of his teammates. How can that ever be a successful strategy?
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