Behind the Bench

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It was a two year labor of love. In October, my first book – Behind the Bench: Inside the Minds of Hockey’s Greatest Coaches – was released by Triumph Books. For this book, I sat down with ten prominent NHL coaches and watched one of the biggest games of their career in their living room, office or summer home.

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It was an incredible experience, really, a life-changing one. The following coaches all shared significant time to make it happen:

  • Dan Bylsma (Game 7 of 2009 Stanley Cup final, viewed in his living room)
  • Ron Wilson (2010 Winter Olympics gold medal game, viewed in his living room)
  • Mike Babcock (2010 Winter Olympics gold medal game, viewed in his home office)
  • Bob Hartley (Game 7 of 2001 Stanley Cup final, viewed at his hockey camp)
  • Todd McLellan (2015 World Championships gold medal game, viewed at his summer home)
  • Mike Sullivan (Game 6 of 2016 Stanley Cup final, viewed in conference room)
  • John Tortorella (Game 7 of 2004 Stanley Cup final, viewed in conference room)
  • Joel Quenneville (Game 6 of 2010 Stanley Cup final, viewed in his office)
  • Ken Hitchcock (Game 6 of 1999 Stanley Cup final, viewed in his office)
  • Claude Julien (Game 7 of 2011 Stanley Cup final, viewed in Bruins film room)

It ended up being much more than conversations about those moments. It became about leadership, about the common threads that led to the success of these coaches, and ultimately what we can all learn from their process.

I couldn’t stop reading this book. The beauty of this book is the way Craig is able to capture the human side of often guarded coaches and get them to open up about the way they “think the game”. The chapter with Babcock could be a book in itself. For anyone who has played or coached, this book goes a long way to helping you understand how world class coaches process events. Please do not think the lessons in this book are limited to hockey. This is a fantastic read for anyone who enjoys studying great leaders.

There were a lot of interviews that went into promoting the book and this podcast from The Coaches Site does a good job diving into the backstory of the book: