NHL Star Craig Coxe passes on his skills in Petoskey
By Glen Young 10/5/09
School has been in session long enough again now that some students are starting to feel restless. That first holiday break cannot come early enough.
For another group back in their icy classroom, however, class is anything but a bore.
For the fifth year running, former National Hockey League standout Craig Coxe is conducting a skills clinic for adult players at Petoskeys Griffin Arena.
Coxe, drafted in 1982 by the Detroit Red Wings at the tender age of 18, spent nearly two decades playing professionally and now those who attend his clinics can take advantage of that store of hockey knowledge.
Every Thursday and Sunday for six weeks from mid-September through late October, the group of 20 or so adults skates with Coxe, running through timing drills, shooting practice, and stick handling maneuvers.
Jerry Timm, a third year player, sees improvement in his play as result. Ive never been coached before. The timing drills finally make sense now, he says.
For most, this is a run-up to the regular season in the Char Em Adult Hockey League. For all it is a chance to rub elbows with a guy who will always be the first-ever goal scorer in franchise history for the San Jose Sharks.
Tom Cooper, a 45-year-old Harbor Springs resident who has played in the adult league three years and attended the camp last year as well, says he appreciates that Coxe does not play favorites. He spends just as much time with the new guys as the with the guys who are experienced. Cooper says Coxes coaching style is extremely helpful for new skaters. He tells you, then he shows you.
For Great Lakes freighter sailor Andy McGinn of Onaway, getting to the clinic involves a lengthy drive. McGinn, who used to play closer to home in Cheboygan, says the new commute is worth it. For a new skater, this clinic is phenomenal. McGinn believes the coaching will make him more ready when league play begins in late October.
Indian River auto shop owner Dan Nivelt, who has attended all five pre-season sessions, says the clinic helps him get ready for the regular season. And while Coxe is fond of saying he cant improve skating for adults like he can for juniors, Nivelt is sure his skating prowess has improved as a result of time spent on the ice at the clinics.
SET IN THEIR WAYS
Coxe, a California native who saw ice time in the NHL with Calgary, Vancouver and St. Louis as well as San Jose, welcomes the opportunity to work with adults. Sometimes its tough to teach adults because theyre set in their ways, he says. But they play because they enjoy the game. They become almost child-like.
He plays off that enthusiasm in his instruction. Whether joking that, were not chopping wood here, while demonstrating a stick handling technique, or quipping, It looks easy on paper, while drawing up a break out drill, Coach Coxe infuses ample amounts of laughter and humor into his instruction.
Jim Murray, a 48-year-old Petoskey lawyer who has attended all five pre season clinics, appreciates this low-key approach. Coxe is one of the nicest and most sincere guys you will ever meet. He has an amazing ability to improve all levels of hockey players and also make them feel good about their game, he says.
Coxe came to Northern Michigan to coach the Northern Michigan Predators, a now-defunct minor league team. He was coaching in Texas at the time, in the Central Hockey League. When the team and the league folded, Coxe moved down the road to Griffin Arena, where he is now Director of Hockey. His duties include everything from driving the zamboni to scheduling locker rooms.
What he enjoys most is working with players, whatever the age. Im fortunate to be able to give back something I love, he says of his coaching. Coxe believes the only drawback coaching brings is the limited time he has to work with players. Theres no frustration, really, because they want to learn.
Another player who values Coxes relaxed style is 35-year-old Petoskey engineer Dario Primo, who says the clinic is a gem. Craig is very approachable, down to earth, and funny, he says. Where else can you go in Northern Michigan and be taught by a former NHL player?
Barb Greene, one of Griffin Arenas owners, sums up the sentiment of players of all ages. We just love Craig, she says.
Craig Coxe runs clinics for adults, as well as youth players of all ages throughout the fall. For more information about the clinics, or for details about other Griffin Arena skating programs, contact Coxe at 231-487-1843, or visit griffinarena.net