Tryouts… Parents Are We Talking About Hockey Tryouts!

I figured this was a perfect time to write this article since coaches, players, organizations and parents are getting ready for tryouts starting mid-April in the Toronto – GTA regions. Tryouts have always been a hot topic to discuss, because of the silly behaviours that go on during this stressful time. Before I start and please keep in mind, this article is from my point of view as a coach. Now, that I’m a father, I will definitely write another article from a parent’s point of view that happens to be a coach too.

So… Let’s begin!

I would like to start off right to the point… There are many decisions to be made when it comes down to selecting the last few players and/or goalies for any coaching staff at tryouts. The truth is… The coaching staff has to face the sad/disappointing faces of young players and goalies, which we as coaches really hate. Finally, facing parents, especially the angry parents whose son or daughter did not make their preferred team. This is where the anger kicks in & the blame game starts by accusing the coaching staff of selecting the team before tryouts at the famous birthday skate, through promises/connections, infamous parents with money, etc….

I remembered one fondly moment in the past with a particular parent that emailed me (which I kept over the years) who accused me of these antics after cutting his kid in my first year coaching at the A level. Mind you, I was just in my early 20’s.

As the email begins – “Thank you coach for being a dumbass for cutting my kid. Aren’t you too young to be coaching kids or have any type of hockey IQ for evaluating talent anyway??? If you did! You would have kept my kid. You’re a brainless $%&@ of a wannabe coach who can’t recognize talent. Your organization needs to get rid of you. You don’t have any business being here or having any kind of experiences. Also, you dumbass, I was ready to write you a big fat check, but not now. YOU $%&@ UP!

I got enough money to buy your $%&@’n crappy organization, but you’re an idiot that can’t figure what’s good for your team or pick one. So go $%&@ yourself and feel free to forward this email to your GM and tell him to call me if he got the balls to do so!”

Pretty extreme… Right!

As a coach, every year you will naturally see, hear or be involved with angry parents in a similar situation like mine.

The truth is, you typically will have your top 6 forwards and top 4 defence players picked from last season’s team. But, it’s the bubble players that are normally up for a long debate. It can definitely be tough to nail down those last few spots. After this incident, I had a good discussion with my GM and gave him some suggestions that he could possibly implement in the future for selecting all of their teams by avoiding these unnecessary encounters with angry parents.


When it comes to picking the bubble players, implement a system where the coach with his/her staff along with other coaches (coaching committee) from all age levels evaluate each other’s tryouts.

Here is an example… If there were five players on the bubble then the coaching committee would need to rank each player on a scale of 1 to 5.  The ranking sheets are collected from each coach and then calculated the scores to nail down the remaining spots.

The one exception the head coach for that particular team would get to pick the last remaining spot regardless of the grouped scores.  For example, if players A, B, & C received the highest scores for the last three remaining spots on the team then the head coach can replace the player with the lowest score with another player of their choice. In the end, it is the head coach’s team and should have the final say. Right.

In my opinion, this process of selecting players and/or goalies can be well accepted throughout the organizations and among the coaches because it relieves the pressure from the coaching staff of that particular team. This solution could definitely help before the accusations start to fly and show the parents that a committee of experienced hockey personnel, not just one or two coaches with so-called personal agendas, are evaluating the tryout.


Hope you enjoyed this article! If you would like to submit your hockey story to be published on this site, we will definitely be interested and proud to display it. It could be anything from how your team did in a tournament, to an exceptional game your team played or an individual had. Please email your story and pictures to


About Michael Orlotti

Michael has played various levels in Minor Hockey in the old MTHL league, High School Hockey at C.W. Jeffrey’s C.I., College Hockey with Seneca Braves - Now Called Seneca Stingers and was invited to play in Italy for the HC Milano Vipers. Attained his National Coaching Certification Level I & II from Hockey Canada. Also, Coached & Trained Players at various levels starting at the House League and through the GTHL A to AAA levels