NHL Veterans Shedding Light In The Sunshine State

Between them, Marco Sturm, Tomas Vokoun and Radek Dvorak have close to 3,000 NHL games under their belts. Now they’re passing some of that knowledge to the next generation of hockey players in the Sunshine State.

Even before Sturm announced his retirement earlier this year, he was helping out in the local Rec league last season, and is coaching a Squirt A team this year. And while Vokoun and Dvorak have not technically hung up their competitive skates, both have joined their friend in the Florida Junior Panthers program.

When it comes to growing the game at the grass-roots level, these three NHL veterans are not afraid to work in the trenches. The trio was recently on the ice at the Florida Panthers Ice Den in Coral Springs where Sturm and Dvorak helped run station-based practices while Vokoun was in charge of a mini-goaltending clinic.

“Having their support is great because they’ve been there before and they know what it takes to reach the highest level of the game,” said Jim Haverstrom, the director of hockey operations.

Given his 18 seasons in the NHL, the association was going to waive Dvorak’s coaching requirements, but the native of Czech Republic sat through the Level 1 coaching clinic at the recommendation of Sturm, who attended a similar clinic at the start of last season and told his friend that he learned a great deal during the weekend session, reinforcing much of what he learned as a youngster.

“Growing up in Europe, they are all well versed in what we’re trying to do here with station-based practices, small area games and cross-ice practices and games,” Haverstrom said.

“They all buy into what we’re doing here because they know that skill development is a long-term process. As Marco told parents at his opening meeting, ‘there are no short cuts when it comes to reaching your goals.’”

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