A lot of has been made about the bag skate the Winnipeg Jets had to endure the day before their game against the Boston Bruins. I’ve heard, “Why would coach Paul Maurice do this now? For conditioning? None of these guys are going to remember this come training camp, it’s a wast of time and annoying to the veterans.” That was from Mike Johnson and I’m kind of surprised by that comment coming from a former player. It’s annoying to ALL players actually.
I’ve never played in the NHL but I did play in the MJHL and I can tell you this, besides championships or big goals that were scored or great plays I remember by me or teammates, bag skates are at the top of my list of memories. I can remember every bag skate I received since I was 12 years old. You don’t forget a time when you were skated into the ground for seemingly nothing in the player’s mind.
I even remember 2 bag skates I wasn’t even a part of because of an injury I had and the other one, 2 players that were bag skated in front of us because they thought a ZZ Top concert was more important than a practice, that’s how powerful they can be.
Most think a bag skate this late in the year is a waste of time, but doing this 2 games before season’s end with nothing on the line is exactly the reason it’s so meaningful. These guys will remember it for the rest of their lives because of the timing of it.
I for one think it was a brilliant move by Maurice and if he is back next year these guys are going to make sure they’re in shape for training camp. You’re never going to be in the kind of shape where you can get through a bag skate easily but being in great shape sure helps.
The team I was on when I was 15 and 16 years old were bag skated almost every practice, that year was a blur of bag skates, but we also won the city and provincial championships two years in a row, and wouldn’t you know it, the Jets won their last two games too. One against the league’s best team, the Bruins, in a game they out played the Bruins from start to finish and tied it up late and took it to the shootout and then against the Calgary Flames in a game where the Jets found a way to pull it out as tired as they looked and with 2 injuries to Jacob Trouba and Jim Slater during that game.
Some of you are thinking it was ridiculous to do that this late in the season but you saw the grit and determination from this team in those last two games and did you see the smiles on their faces after the win in Calgary? It was priceless. A bag skate helps with a few things, conditioning, sending messages etc. but the biggest thing it does? It brings teams closer together because they now have a common hockey related instance to talk about other than who scored or how much ice time players are getting and the elite players and fringe players all have the same feeling towards it. They hate it. Getting skated into the ground is hard for everyone, and no one is better than anyone else during it. They also could be thinking, “What’s he doing? Skating us like this.” It get’s players fired up and you get the results like these last 2 games. A common goal everyone looks for in this is none of them want it to happen again, so they all work hard to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Bag skates are powerful and when used properly can make for some great results.
Make no mistake, the players involved in that bag skate are going to remember it forever and the players who didn’t have to go through it are going to hear about it. I hope Maurice is here next year because he’s laid down the foundation for a solid start next season.
Follow us on twitter @hkyattheforks