Last week I had the privilege of talking with current assistant coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets Dan Hinote. During Dan’s professional careeer he played for the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, and finished his career in Sweden playing for Moodo. When Dan played he was known for his defensive play and efficient penalty killing. That style of play helped the Dan and the Colorado Avalanche win the Stanley Cup 2001. Dan still makes his home in Denver in the off season. Dan and I talked about winning the Stanley Cup, the rivalry between the Avalanche and the Red Wings, and of all things a promising career in the FBI.
1. Art- Dan you won the Stanley Cup in 2001 with the Colorado Avalanche. What did you do with the Stanley Cup for your day?
Dan- I took it to my home town of Elk River Minnestota to share it with everyone that had a hand in helping me get to that point. I also took it to the hockey arena for fans to come get their pictures taken with it. I finished by taking the Stanley Cup to a local bar for the rest of the evening.
2. Art-Dan, you were on track to a promising career with the United States’ government with going to West Point, then a career possibly with the FBI. You left after the Colorado Avalanche drafted you in 1996. Was the desicion hard to make? What were your parent’s thoughts?
Dan-I sat down with my parents and they believed I could make it in the NHL. We talked about how I could always go back to finish school. It was better to look back on something, then wonder about what the future could of been.
3.Art-What kind of memories do you have from playing the Pittsburgh Penguins?
Dan-We did not play them very much. My rookie year I did not play a whole lot. I remember Coach Craig Hartsburg coming to talk to my line before the game. He told us if you are on the ice against Mario Lemieux do whatever you have to get the puck out of the zone and get to the bench. Well we were on the ice and Mario got the puck in the offense zone myself and the two wingers went to get the puck off of him and he beat all three of us going in on a breakaway and beat the goalie on the backhand. When we made it back to the bench coach Hartsburg shooked his head at us.
3. Art-How did development camp go for the Columbus Blue Jackets?
Dan- Great! The skill level and the compete level of the guys were very high. As a player I dreaded those tests. It’s nice being on the other side of those tests with a stop watch.
4. Art- So far this off season the Columbus Blue Jackets have made quite an overhaul adding some nice pieces to the team. Such as players like; Jeff Carter, Vinny Propsal, and James Wisniewski.
Dan-The management staff has given us a lot to work with. We are very excited for the upcoming season.
5. Art-Headshots in the game. Would you like to see them eliminated from the game as a whole? What would you like to see the NHL do to make the game safer?
Dan- I do not have the answer to that. I don’t know if there is a good way to protect the guys. I think education is a very important when it comes to hits to the head. Hitting is an important part of the game. You can not over think it. I do not know if guys going through the middle have a false sense of security thinking they are not going to get hit. Guys are so fast and skilled today. I do not like taking hitting out of the game.
6. Art-Describe the rivalry between Colorado and Detroit. What were those playoff games like?
Dan- I came in on the tail end of that mess. Those games against the Detroit Red Wings were dirty, bloody, and full out hockey.
7. Art- Take us through a day in the life of an assistant coach in the NHL?
Dan-On a non game day, we have practice at 10:30. So I am at the rink by 7:15. Assistant coach Brad Berry and myself will cut the video form the game before. We will put together all of the P/K clips for the penalty killers to watch. Let’s say we are playing Pittsburgh the next game, we will get the video from their powerplays for the last three games. That will help us come up with a plan on what we want to do to stop their powerplay. After that the coaches get together to put in place a practice plan to what we want to do. We then go into transition drills. Our drills are usually designed for what team we are playing next or what we might of struggled the night before. Then I will go over and help our goalie coach shoot on our goalies. Then there is practice followed by lunch. After it’s back to finishing whatever video that needs finished and then if there is enough time we will begin working on video for the next game. All in all a non game day is usually about a 10-12 hour work day with the head coach usually staying longer.
On a gameday we start with meetings. We cut video down from the last game. It is usually about three to five minutes. We focus on the the good and the bad from the last game. We then work on the powerplay followed by practice. Then we skate the injured players and the guys that are not playing that night. I will stay to cut the video, then we prepare reports to hang in the locker room for the players to have a visual. Head Coach Scott Arniel then has his 5 on 5 meeting . The warmups are next. During warmups is were we make sure the lines are good for the game. I go upstairs for the first two periods. My job is to keep track of scoring chances as well as weaknesses to expolit, which could include players that have made mistakes. I keep all of this information on what is called a “chance sheet”. This year I will get to be on the bench for the third period, which I’m really looking foward to.
8. Art-Dan, what is the one thing you are most proud of during your hockey career.
Dan-Winning the Stanley Cup in 2001. Sure that team had a ton of hall of famers, but the thing I am most proud is that team found one common thing to play for or,”one thing to pull on the rope.”. That one thing was Ray Bourque. Ray gave us that thing, we won it with him. Take the Stanley Cup finals this year as an example. All the games were tight until Aaron Rome’s hit on Nathan Horton. I belive that was Boston’s one thing.
I just want to thank Dan Hinote again for coming on “Coffee Talk”. So if anybody sees a person walking around the Consol Energy Center during the Blue Jackets game on Feb 26th with a Dan Hinote jersey, it’s me paying him respect for the time he took out of his day to talk with me. To thank him for appearing on “Coffee Talk”, I am sending Dan a complimentary DVD set of HBO’s “Road to the Winter Classic Penguins/Capitals” I asked Dan if he had a chance to watch it, and he had not but wanted to.