Development & Timing, Patience Vs Baptism by Fire

Created 3 years 326 days ago
by Michael DeNicola

Tags: Prospect Development Ron Hextall Shayne Gostisbehere
Views: 1397

by Michael DeNicola

Friday, October 31st, 2014 --

Hextall had this to say about Gostisbehere in a recent interview

"He's played fine for a young player who was forced into a situation. The minutes reflect someone who probably isn't ready to be here. Then again, if Brandon [Manning] was ready, he'd probably be here already, too. 

"We'll see where this all goes. I would have liked to had Shayne down there for a much longer period of time before we got a look at him here. Shayne's had the puck on his stick his whole life. His whole life. He's got to adjust his game. Shayne can't come here and be a sixth guy and play low minutes and help this hockey team."

I want to focus on these topic sentences --- "Shayne's had the puck on his stick his whole life. His whole life. He's got to adjust his game."

Most of us, including myself, have a misguided interpretation of what 'Prospect Development' truly is. We have to remember that these youngens have spent their entire amateur playing careers being THE superstar on their team, and one of few in their respective leagues. Now all of a sudden they're surrounded by players who are equally talented or better than they are. 

Development is 99% mental. By the time these kids reach the professional level-- whether 18, 19, 20 or 21-years of age --their strengths are ready to contribute to the cause. That's why they were chosen by the organization in the first place. Advancing these strengths come with more professional experience, but that's not what is in need of grooming right away. 

It's their minds that need molding. 

What Hextall means in that quote is that Gostisbehere has been 'the guy' on every competitive level. He was always the guy his teammates needed to get the puck to, and he was the guy every opponent needed to watch for. Up here, that's not always the case. Up here -- and even in the AHL -- these promising prospects need to learn how to contribute without the puck. That is not as easy as most of us may think. Whether you've played hockey all your life, or you've been a diehard spectator, at the NHL level... shit gets real.

Nobody questions Shayne's ability with the puck. I believe we can each agree that it's NHL-ready. As I'm sure most heads within the organization would tell you, too. 

But until now, Gostisbehere wasn't competing versus players as good as he is with the puck. He needs to learn how, all the while adjusting his strengths around a new brand of defensive game. Sometimes Baptism by Fire is the best medicine. Other times, tempering the player's activity does more good than harm. 

"Gord told me from the blue line and out, I'm fine. It's just from the blue line and in, on the defensive side, is where I need to focus all of my energy," Gostisbehere said. "I'm starting to realize what I'm doing wrong."

Develop that mind, kid. The success will follow.

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