It is not every day that a governing body of hockey gets to add a former NHLer and 2-time NCAA National Champion to their staff, but USA Hockey has been blessed with such a signing. This past June USAH was able to employ a certain 1994 4th round NHL Draft pick, AHL All-Star, and past University of Michigan standout in Matt Herr. After establishing The Kent School (CT) into one of the premiere New England hockey prep schools for the last eight years, Herr is bringing his hockey expertise as the ADM (American Development Model) Regional Manager in New York State and Atlantic Districts.
With his vast playing experience in North American and Europe along with his coaching background that has also seen him lead USA’s U18 Ivan Hlinka teams, Herr is wasting little time in making a positive impact in influencing long-term athletic development. Hence, the master- mind behind positioning the USA Hockey ADM program on the road in conjunction with its ‘Grow the Game’ initiative along with collaboration of several pro hockey organizations.
“To me it makes sense to combine the ‘Grow the Game’ along with ADM. The development side and ADM is part of it. Over the last three years we have shown that the associations/teams that adopt the ADM retain 40% more kids from mite to squirt to the non-adopters. That’s fantastic. So just for numbers sake, say out of 100 kids you lose a bunch of them, but now you can retain 40%. That’s a lot of hockey players”, he asserted.
In just forth months of service with USA Hockey, the former prep coach has traveled across seas to exchange hockey wisdom with countries like Finland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
“You know I played seven years of pro hockey and four years at Michigan, but just in my four months with USA Hockey I have learned more about the game of hockey. It’s amazing”, Herr claimed.
Better yet, he has immediately formulated the ADM Road Show, a first of its kind, kicking off Sunday, September 8th that will hit seven different locations throughout New York State. The journey will take an educating USA Hockey staff to Long Island in Bethpage where they will collaborate with the New York Islanders, then will head north to Brewster to join forces with the New York Rangers, Albany with the AHL’s Devils, stopping off at the ‘Miracle on Ice’ site in Lake Placid, before hitting central New York of Syracuse with the AHL’s Crunch, and going west in Rochester with the AHL’s Amerks, and finally ending at the First Niagara Center on September 14th with Buffalo Sabres personnel.
Herr along with Mike Lukken, Coordinator of Program Services for USA Hockey thought it would be advantageous to utilize the workforces flying in from USA Hockey’s headquarters of Colorado Springs, CO, but also cost-effective since they would already be on the east coast for a Level 4 coaching clinic in Bethpage next weekend.
“I’m really excited about our last event at the First Niagara Center, but I am also looking forward to kick off one in Long Island as it is conjunction with the Level 4 as coaches on their last day of clinic will be able to see the ADM Road Show in action,” Herr revealed.
The ADM Road Show will have both an on-ice component as well as an off-ice element for parents, players, and coaches. The staff will help educate and promote athleticism, coordination, agility to the age-appropriate level. At each site, U12 and under players will get a free opportunity to participate both on and off-ice.
One of the misconceptions that Herr would like to transform is the thinking that the ADM Model is only about the Mite U8 level players and the cross-ice game. The whole concept of the ADM Road Show inception is to display that ADM is multi-dimensional in player development.
“It is really more than just growing the game. Sure a full staff of ‘Grow the Game’ will be on hand, but also guys from Colorado are coming in to talk about the ADM and the development side of the game”, he explained.
He then went onto mention, “Staff on-hand will discuss the advantages of station-based practices, getting many reps in a practice, looking at how to develop players, also the age appropriate training, and maybe show them some things they have never seen before.”
Herr explained how he was recently in Philadelphia at a prominent program with over 50 kids on-ice from mite, squirt, to pee wee along with 35 coaches. Parents and some coaches were skeptical in the beginning but after watching the 60-minute session were amazed how exhausted the kids were and the high-level of developing competition even in a contained areas.
“The ultimate goal is to inform and educate people. As much as ADM has been about mite level hockey over last 3-4 years, it is not just about cross-ice. It’s about the development of players from mite to hopefully the NHL or mite to the NCAA, whatever the end point is. To help these kids develop at all levels not just 8 and under hockey.”
The National Hockey League does in fact help fund the ADM program and of course the definitive objective is seeing more American players in the NHL in the long run.
“We are involving the NHL because they are such a huge contributor to the ADM model and give us the legitimacy as it is important because the NHL backs it. Each NHL team in New York State will have some sort of an appearance from an alum and/or coach. We will work closely with the organization and it shows how important it is to the NHL teams to support.”
In the end it sounds like everybody is a winner. We all know how extremely difficult it is for a player to make it to the NHL, but USA Hockey and the ADM program is offering the tools to assist. So if trying to be one of the very fortunate less than 1%ers does not work to plan, the game of hockey is still gaining more players young to old that are not only participating, but also staying in the game for a lifetime
Herr also uttered, “Sure in the end the NHL wants to see more NHLers. They want USA Hockey to help develop these players. But you know what, the NHL also wants more fans. We all know it. If you can keep 40% or 50% more kids in the game, they are going to buy more hot dogs, eat more popcorn, and drink more beer when they are of age.”
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