What does Head Coach Todd Woodcroft begin preaching to his players on the first day they arrive on campus at the University of Vermont? The importance of breakouts.
“Breakouts are a piece of your team’s structure – a very important piece,” said Woodcroft. “They’re a piece of your team’s success. It takes six players and all six players have to be involved. All six have to be aware. All six players have to be prepared. Ultimately that’s our job as coaches.”
Ultimately, that’s what Woodcroft’s highly anticipated presentation from TCS Live in Ann Arbor is all about.
Woodcroft, who is entering his third season behind the bench with the Catamounts, is a frequent guest of The Coaches Site. The 50-year-old Toronto product has over 20 years experience in the NHL and internationally. He began his coaching journey as a Video Coach for the Minnesota Wild and branched off into scouting with the Washington Capitals, before scouting for the Los Angeles Kings for four seasons. During that time Woodcroft and the Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2012. He then became Scouting Director for the Calgary Flames, before coming back to his true passion for coaching with the Winnipeg Jets in 2016. Woodcroft has also coached in seven World Championships and one World Cup representing Canada, Belarus, Switzerland and Sweden, winning two Gold Medals.
Woodcroft has worked with some of the best players and teams to ever play in the NHL. To achieve success at the highest level in the world – and any level of hockey, he argues – successful breakouts are paramount.
“I tell my players from day one that the purpose of a breakout is not to go score. The purpose of a breakout is to safely transport the puck from your D-zone into the neutral zone, into the offensive zone.”
As you’ll see in his video, Woodcroft believes players often get slowed down by clutter and indecision on breakouts. Players need a plan to be successful and that, for Woodcroft, involves speed. How fast can the puck be moved? How fast can players become available? How fast can the puck be moved from the d-zone into the neutral zone and into the offensive zone?
If you remember one thing from this presentation it will be this: “You want to efficiently spend the least amount of time you can in the D-zone.”
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