Advice for the New Hockey Parent


One hockey mom’s words of wisdom for hockey parents


If you’re a new hockey parent, I want you to read this and tuck it away, and then reread it when your child no longer plays.

The very first thing Coach Brian told us was that none of our kids will be going to NHL. Here are a few things he forgot to mention that first mite year:

There will be times when you call a six-year-old an ass. You might call his mother an ass too. You will hear other parents call YOUR child an ass, and there are times you will agree with them. You WILL go to the wrong rink. You will get thrown out of a rink. The first time you hear your child curse will be at the rink. It may be the first time you hear his church-going grandma curse too. You will be threatened with jail time. You will threaten other people with jail time. You will plan strategies for the championship game after you consume a six pack. You will be so frustrated after a game that you just may leave your player at a rink in another town. (You might even do it on purpose.) You will think the coach can’t coach. You will think YOU can coach. You will believe this even more after a few drinks at the hotel bar. (It doesn’t matter that he played D1 hockey—YOU have watched thousands of games.)

You will spend more money on one stick than your current car payment. You will get into arguments with strangers. That six-year-old that you called an ass will STILL be an ass when your son plays him again at 16. And so will his mother. So will your son. So will you. So is every ref you will EVER meet. Especially when you lose.

When the elementary school principal smiles smugly on a Monday morning and asks your child how he’s feeling, it’s because they KNOW you were in New York on Friday for a game. Your child will play with an ear infection, he will play with strep throat, and he will play with 102° fever. Heck, he probably got it from a teammate; illness spreads through a hockey team quicker than a line change.

There will NEVER be a reason your player deserved that penalty. You will defend your son to referees, coaches, and other parents, but mostly to hotel security in other states. Your entire house, including your back porch and garage, will be decorated with hockey gear 12 months out of the year, not just during hockey season. Most weekends you will wake up with six or more players sleeping in your living room. You will know these players by number and birth year, not by name. You will refer to 7 AM as midday.

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You will laugh and happily pay the $90 registration fee you used to complain about for little league. You will try to convince your hockey player to go try out for little league. You will quickly realize the Stanley Cup isn’t the most important cup. You will share hotel rooms, car rides, and every childhood illness. Your player will miss more school than all of your other children combined. Most of those “sick” days will be tournament Fridays. That mom you called an ass just might end up being the manager on your team the following season, and her ass of a son will be one of the numbers asleep on your living room floor.

You won’t realize how fast the time is going, you won’t appreciate it, and you will miss it. No, your child is NOT going to the NHL. He probably won’t even play D1 (thank God for men’s league). But he will learn how to lace up his own skates and in the end, those tiny little skates will be bigger than a squirt parent’s ego after a championship win. And that mite coach—the one who you swore couldn’t coach and offended you by saying your little cherub wasn’t going to the NHL—you’ll want to thank him. Thank him for his time, his talent and for his help in turning your mite into a man.

—Rachelle Petrilla Rubas is reader supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.


  1. As a coach and former minor league player, I just hate hearing how many people except kids (U12) being told they “will never play in the NHL”… Personally, I think there is nothing wrong with telling kids the opposite, or the fact that they CAN make it to the NHL. Sure, the truth is the odds are against them. WHO CARES? Let them dream as I did as a kid.

    Parents should not have to be told, they are adults and should already know the chances, if you have to tell them then you’re swimming against the tide.
    Telling kids however that they CAN play in the NHL at a young age is encouragement, and for some motivation And BTW, who are we to determine at age 6 that a kid won’t make it into the NHL? The fact is there is no way of telling until they are mid teens, and even then it’s not an exact science. How does anyone know at U12 who is going to make the NHL?

    Look around the league. Even scouts can’t get it right. At U12 there are kids who need the encouragement. Aall the naysayers and pessimistic look on a kid’s future should be banned from coaching, as it is just doing an injustice to the kids and the sport. It’s like a 2nd grader who loves numbers, learning math, being told they can never be an accountant by a teacher. It’s a negative, pathetic attitude toward kids that is too accepted in American society. Let the kids dream and dream big…. Parents and coaches should keep the negativity and pessimism to themselves. Squashing a kid’s dream is pathetic.

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