Nolan school returns
Even without his famous father on hand, Brandon Nolan is doing his best to help local minor hockey players sharpen their skills.
The former Carolina Hurricanes’ centre brought his hockey school, which started Sunday and wraps up today, back to the Couchiching Arena for a second-straight year.
“You don’t want to just do it one year and then never have them see you again,” he reasoned.
“It’s important to come back for a second year,” Nolan stressed.
“It’s how you build relationships with the people here.”
The return visit has had its anticipated impact, with the number of participants more than double last year’s total.
“We’ve got enough this year to have three groups with ages seven-nine, 10-12, and 13-16, and the numbers are up in every group,” an elated Nolan said.
“A lot of credit has to be given to the people who work at Couchiching and got the word out.”
Nolan said the focus is more short-term when it comes to charting the progress of those on the ice for the school.
“It’s tough to notice differences on a year-to-year basis so we’re more interested in the four days that we are here,” he explained.
“We had someone [on Sunday] who couldn’t really skate and [Monday], they were getting around the ice pretty good,” he noted.
“I enjoy seeing them get better day by day.”
Nolan’s hockey school made stops in Fredericton, N.B. and Paris, Ont. last month before winding its way to Northwestern Ontario.
It emphasizes the fundamentals of the game—from passing and puck handling to skating and shooting.
“You can’t over-complicate things,” stressed Nolan. “You’ve got to stick to the basics.”
Noticeable by his absence at the camp this year was family patriarch Ted Nolan, who had a busy and successful year both personally and professionally.
In an unusual case of coming full circle, the older Nolan was hired by the Buffalo Sabres as head coach in mid-November—the same team that had fired him in 1997 due to a contract dispute after he won the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL’s coach of the year.
Nolan then led Team Latvia to an unprecedented quarter-final appearance at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia in February, with the squad putting a huge scare into Team Canada before falling 2-1 to end its run.
He signed a three-year contract extension with the Sabres in March, then later in the spring got to watch his other son, Jordan, win his second Stanley Cup in three years while playing forward for the L.A. Kings.
The camp at Couchiching actually is ending one day sooner than originally planned.
That’s because Jordan Nolan is scheduled to bring the Stanley Cup to the Nolans’ home reserve of Garden River First Nation tomorrow.
Brandon Nolan confirmed Monday that his dad, Ted, wouldn’t be able to make it to this year’s camp due to being with his sister, who is suffering from an undisclosed life-threatening illness.