September 15, 2011 – By Israel Fehr
The world of skill development for young hockey players is constantly evolving and Greg Beaudin, founder of the B.C. Floorball Federation and president of Modern Hockey, thinks his game is about to become an integral part of how ice hockey players train and improve their fundamentals.
“I would describe floorball as a hybrid version of floor hockey and ice hockey that combines elements of soccer and basketball,” said Beaudin.
“The speed and the quickness of a floorball stick and ball makes it very good for improving your puck control, speed, agility, timing, and coordination. It also teaches a lot of defensive awareness and body positioning because you’re not allowed to slash or hit your opponent so it keeps your feet moving and keeps you always in motion. The speed of the game is very fast and that translates very well to the ice.”
For those reasons floorball caught the attention of the North Vancouver Minor Hockey Association, as they constantly search for ways to improve their overall skill development program.
“We’re looking to incorporate floorball to help with puck handling,” said NVMHA director of hockey operations Dan Cioffi. “We’re going to work with Greg and provide those opportunities for our players this year.”
Beaudin, who recently set up a partnership with Wayne Gretzky’s new hockey school, will oversee all aspects of the program.
“We’ll be offering a spring floorball league, we’re going to transition minor hockey players to playing floorball in the offseason to keep their skills sharp and get a break from the ice,” said Beaudin.
“During the season we’re going to train teams in the gym, supplementing their hockey development with floorball.” Floorball is immensely popular in Europe, especially in Sweden, Finland, and Switzerland.
Beaudin got involved with the game a few years ago, fell in love with it and saw a terrific opportunity to change how young ice hockey players are groomed in Canada by popularizing the sport.
“When I was working with a Swedish ice hockey company, my background is in ice hockey, I was introduced to a floorball stick and explained the sport and how big it is in Europe, I immediately jumped onto the floorball bandwagon,” said Beaudin.
“The way ice hockey is being played now, even at the NHL level, it’s turning into a speed game, where it’s more about passing and cycling. You can see it from the European NHL talent, you can see with their floorball backgrounds how it translates onto the ice. Guys like the Sedins, they’re moving all the time. They don’t play that rough, punishing brand of hockey that puts them in a direct line to get a concussion or another injury. These players are more skilled, more agile, and more creative.”
Beaudin is convinced floorball is the next big thing for the development of young hockey players and North Van is just the latest association to buy in.