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Howie Meeker - Hockey's Renaissance Man

By Michael Dundas, Manager, Hockey Development, 11/12/20, 1:45PM EST

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One-of-a-kind hockey pioneer Howie Meeker was ahead of his time

Earlier this week we learned the sad news of hockey legend Howie Meeker’s passing at the age of 97. Meeker, a native of New Hamburg, was named Rookie of the Year in 1947 and won four Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs before becoming an icon with Hockey Night in Canada. His other accolades include the Order of Canada and induction into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.

Throughout the 1970s, Howie Meeker Hockey School sessions were regularly shown on CBC. The series offered development tips on skating, shooting and practice planning. Many of Meeker’s philosophies were ahead of his era as he utilized technology and teaching tools that were leading edge at that time. This also translated to his broadcasts on HNIC, as Meeker would often utilize video for game and skill analysis.

Here are some of Meeker's tips that have ended up being timeless.

Wearing Proper-Fitting Skates

One of Meeker’s biggest peeves was ill-fitting skates. To him, there was no such thing as weak ankles, only bad skates. Meeker walked through a group of young skaters with skating problems, offering simple tips like tying them properly and not wearing two pairs of socks. Once laced in with proper fitting skates, there was an immediate difference. "Any kid that can walk, can skate and skate well," Meeker said.

Teaching the Basics

Meeker was an advocate of teaching skills over systems. While some of the philosophy may have changed over the years, the fundamentals of proper posture, balance and agility still remain. The drills in the video above aim to improve those basic skills by ‘unlocking the hips’ to get maximum mobility on the ice. 

Being Mobile on Your Skates

Power in skating comes from the legs. While players may be able to skate well going forward, some initially struggle with the mobility of turning or changing direction. This is true when learning crossovers and skating backwards as well. These skills can boost power and separate the weak skaters from the strong ones.

Perfecting the Pass and Shoot

Coaches are always looking for drills that keep players engaged and offer game-like scenarios. By Meeker’s experience, he claims players would rather do this drill than scrimmage. It also keeps the goalies involved. This drill shows how coaches can use all of the ice to run drills in practice through different on-ice setups.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michael Dundas is the Manager, Hockey Development at the OMHA and has over 10 years of instructional and coaching experience working with athletes from U7 to U18.

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