Practice Makes Permanent
As an irony to my last name, for 13 years I was a musician, playing trumpet.
One of the more enriching experiences of my life, it taught me several lessons that affect my daily life and one of the most important was a simple phrase: "practice makes permanent." I was told I would not be perfect but I should practice like I want to be.
This phrase is simple to understand, hard to do. It means that when you are practicing, whatever it is you are doing, practice the way you want to perform. Easy to say, hard to do. I mention this because this is the mentality of the Avalanche going forward.
Patrick Roy has worked as hard as the players this week in camp, to set the mantra. On drills, he will stop the play to make sure every player is doing it correctly. He does not wait until the drill is over, he stops it right when the mistake is made, corrects it and then continues.
Under Joe Sacco, if the players were not playing the way he wanted, he would say something and continue on. Well, as we have seen, practicing mistakes means performing mistakes. Granted, mistakes will still be made under Roy but the response afterward is a night and day difference.
Roy is less of a coach, more of a teacher, at least in camp. It has been six days- three days with all of the veteran players present- but Roy has already set a good tone to begin the new regime.
When doing a shootaround, players are supposed to take a shot and stop, not just skate by the net. If they do not execute this, they are sent back to do it again. Even Matt Duchene was told to do it again- there are no exceptions. If Steve Downie is at the side of the net, Roy will stop the play and move him to the front of the crease. If Tyson Barrie backs off the guy, Roy and defensive coach Adam Foote will tell him to cut down his space, to keep closer to him and, finally, to hit him.
It as if the team has part "Slap Shot" in them and they are going to let the other teams know they are there.
Screw talent. Screw skill. Screw having the best roster out there. If the Avs are going to be a playoff team, they need to prepare for the games better. If they are to start games on time, they better practice that way.
Especialy for a team with less talent, less skill and less talented roster as others in the league, they need to work harder. They need to be ready to execute from the drop of the puck.
Sacco and company let the Avs get away with mistakes and less-then-stellar effort in practice. The result was a mistake-prone team that had an uneven effort. Roy will not stand for that. He hates losing and he hates losing mentalities.
It does not matter that it is training camp. He is going to get them to do it right, all the time, every time. Because Roy knows the same thing that I knew as a musician: Practice Makes Permanent.