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Player commitment level not as high as it used to be: coach Mark Robinson

Western Kings coach Mark Robinson is adjusting to the reality that some of today’s elite hockey players don’t make the commitment to the game like he’s seen in the past, but he understands why some can’t be 100 per cent committed when academics is more of a priority and there’s more for young people to get involved in nowadays.
Western Kings coach Mark Robinson is adjusting to the reality that some of today’s elite hockey players don’t make the commitment to the game like he’s seen in the past, but he understands why some can’t be 100 per cent committed when academics is more of a priority and there’s more for young people to get involved in nowadays. - Star file photo

Mark Robinson doesn’t have any sleepless nights about how his team is struggling this season, but he believes it has become a tougher job when the level of commitment from the players isn’t as high as what it was when he played the game.

When Robinson was honing his hockey skills the game meant everything to him and he made it a priority during the winter months to get better.

He didn’t let anything interfere with his participation in the game and made a commitment to the guys for the balance of the year.

Even a few years back, when he began his journey as a coach, he saw situations where players couldn’t commit 100 per cent because of one thing or another.

Times have changed and he’s trying to adjust.

Nowadays, he said, a lot of players aren’t willing to be committed to one thing. They take on a number of sports and try to juggle their schedules in an attempt to do it all.

Then, there’s the academic side of things.

He said a lot of players have missed hockey this year for academic reasons. A lot of times it’s for legitimate reasons and he’s fine with it.

He has watched his own two sons struggle in the classroom coming up through the program and he believes it’s harder than when he went to school. Seeing more parents put a stronger emphasis on school isn’t something that caught him off guard by any means.

“I don’t blame them for it. School is more important than hockey, don’t get me wrong,” Robinson said.

Robinson’s Western Kings head into the final weekend of the provincial major midget hockey league schedule with just 11 wins to show for their efforts. A sweep of the TriPen Osprey would mean 13 wins on the season, a big dip when compared to last season’s dominant Kings squad that finished the regular campaign with an impressive 30-2 record before being upset by the St. John’s Maple Leafs in the championship final.

Six guys from last year’s edition of the Kings graduated from the program and are now playing for teams in the Maritime Junior Hockey League, so this year’s squad is younger and has limited experience playing at a high level, so he didn’t expect the Kings to dominate the league this year.

He wanted his team to progressively get better as the season went on and he believes that has happened, so he’s taking it all in a positive light.

He doesn’t worry about the challenges he has when it comes to trying to teach systems or get some line combinations working when guys are missing from the group.

He appreciates knowing the players he has under his guidance work hard game in and game out and always show up to the rink with a positive attitude.

“Your team would be much better off if everybody gave 100 per cent all the time, but that’s not going to happen,” he said.

He is working with a good group of young players who listen and want to learn.

That’s all the motivation he needs to keep doing what he loves to do.

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