Not only did the former University of Saskatchewan Huskies bench boss coach more than 400 games in the National Hockey League, he has a further decade of experience in the German Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL), Russian Super League and Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) on top of his many assignments coaching Team Canada at various international tournaments.
A member of the Order of Canada, the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame and IIHF Hall of Fame, basically, when King talks hockey, it’s a golden opportunity learn from one of the best.
And that’s something the Prairie Hockey Academy was able to take advantage of this past week.
King was in Caronport for a series of practices with the PHA, making his second visit to the team this season as the Canadian Sport School Hockey League campaign enters its stretch drive.
“Coming to the Prairie Hockey Academy has always been a real pleasure for me,” King told Jeremy Demoskoff with the PHA. “I like working with youngsters that are highly motivated and this group out here does a great job of that, they are really young and eager... the one thing that I can see that always impresses me is that when I come out every couple of months is to see the improvement in these kids, how much better they are getting.”
Part of that is due to son Scott King, himself a former standout player who has worked with PHA as an assistant coach since the program’s inception and recently signed a long-term extension as an assistant coach with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League.
King carried a unique theme into his most recent visit to PHA, with his ‘Russian Development Camp’ drawing on his myriad experiences coaching in the RSL and KHL and offering a different look to the usual hockey training the Cougars take part in.
“The intensity and knowledge that Dave King brings on the ice is incredible,” said second-year PHA defenceman Mikkel Hrechka. “The speed and pace he brings to practice and the Russian drills he uses pushes me to another level.”
The coaching staff were also able to pick coach King’s brain, adding some tips and tricks they’ll be able to put to use in the future.
“The energy, pace, hockey knowledge and passion Dave brings is incredible,” said Erik Robitaille, one of PHA’s coaches. “The countless teaching moments and the things he says makes me want to bring a notepad and pen on the ice so I can capture it all.”
King himself is impressed with what he’s seen from PHA in the short time the program has been in existence.
“The quality of training on and off the ice is really second to none, and so it is a great experience for a young player,” King said. “This is a new concept, these sport academies, and I think they are proving to be very successful and a great experience for youngsters.”
The Cougars currently hold a 12-17-1-0 record, good enough for 11th place in the 14-team CSSHL Elite 15 division. The Midget Varsity Cougars, meanwhile, find themselves with a 7-6-3-1 record and in fifth place in their league, but with at least three games in hand on everyone else in the eight-team loop. They’re in action during the second annual Midget Varsity Prairie Classic this weekend.