Brent Seabrook doesn’t want any favours for his kids when it comes to minor hockey and they better be having fun too.
With three young children, the former Chicago Blackhawks star is now getting a taste of today’s youth hockey structure and it’s significantly different than his days growing up in Tsawwassen.
The three-time Stanley Cup champion has been helping out coaching with the Kelowna Minor Hockey Association where two of his children, seven-year-old Carter and six-year-old Kenzie, have been playing on their respective U9 and U7 teams.
“They've got two really good head guys there and some other guys that are helping too, so it's been awesome. It’s fun to be out there with them and watch them develop and it’s not just my kids,” said Seabrook. “We had a kid who couldn’t skate at the start of the year. Every two steps he would fall and now he is doing full ice stick handling and falls maybe once or twice. It’s pretty impressive to see how fast the kids pick it up. Being a hockey player myself and spending my whole life doing it, it is fun now to give back and see those experiences.”
Seabrook played on South Delta Minor Hockey Association rep teams right through Bantam (U15). It was spring hockey when he had the opportunity to play outside of his hometown on travel teams. Today’s structure offers various winter season development paths including school academy programs and regional leagues run by B.C. Amateur Hockey.
“From my experience, I thought playing minor hockey was really good for me. My first-year I had to figure it out,” he said. “I was learning and I wasn’t the best player around. I had to get better and I had to work to get there. Then coming into the second year I was able to be one of the better players, to have that feeling and generate that confidence while playing against a lot of kids.
“(In spring) we had a really good group of kids from the Lower Mainland in our age group. We had hard games that we won and we lost. It was a whole bunch of guys who could skate end-to-end and play and for me that was a big thing.
Costs should not prevent young players from opportunities
“Anytime you can get your kids more ice time that’s good, but I think having it affordable for everybody to play is another big thing. That was really good for us because we had more kids playing and we found lots of good players that wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to play (if the cost) was $20,000 (a year).
“I think there are pros and cons to playing at different levels. I think for me, what I tell parents and kids that ask is you got to have fun.”
With that in mind, Seabrook didn’t want his daughter to have a guaranteed spot on an upcoming rep calibre spring team when he was approached about helping with coaching.
“I wanted to see the evaluation skates because I wanted to see if she can compete. If she's able to play then yeah, I'll help you out. I didn’t want her on the team because I was the coach. If she’s not having fun then it’s not fun for me too. You got to enjoy it. If you’re the worst player on the best team, not playing much and not scoring any goals or making any plays, it’s not good,” he said.
“My son was asked to play on a team and we (wife Dayna) didn't want him to just because it was an elite team. He was still trying to find his love for the game and still trying to enjoy it. So we put him in minor hockey and he was one of the one of the top players on the team. So he was able to score some goals and he’s loving it now. That's part of it. I think every kid is different.”