28 May Interview with Tampa Bay Lightnings Mike Ellis
Mike Ellis talked to our students about his journey from the UK to the NHL and the things he has collected along the way.
Mike has rings from the OHL, the Coast, the American League, and a Calder Cup for his efforts with teams as a skills coach. A few weeks ago our students had the chance to ask Mike, an NHL director of skill development anything they wanted. Here are just a few of the questions and answers from Mike.
What’s the most important thing for a young player to work on in the offseason?
One thing I think is absolutely key is working on your flexion and rotation-building strength and flexibility. It’s so important to be strong instead of being big in our game now. Being able to rotate at the neck easily, being able to rotate at your T-spine, and also at your hips, those three zones are massive. If you can skate one way and rotate your head to scan the play the other… that is so important.
Who is the most skilled guy you have worked with?
Nikita Kucherov, He is off the charts with eyes up puck skills. He is all feel, he doesn’t need to put his eyes down. Watching him in practice is so impressive. After Nikita, I would have to say MitchMarner, he is the best rotator I think I have ever worked with. On the D side it’s Headman, he’s 6′ 6″ but moves like he is 5′ 10″ he is so comfortable with his body he can pretty much do everything and anything… and he skates like the wind.
Is there a difference between an NHL and an American League skill development session?
No, there isn’t. The only difference is that an NHL player maybe more competent, more relaxed, and controlled. But the patterns, the patterns that I coach are all the same, all the way down to the OHL .
Out of all the players you have coached and worked with. Who did you see improve the most and what did they do definitely to other players?
My model player that has improved the most would be Zack Hyman of the Leafs. He has always had to work for it. He was always told he couldn’t make the next level but always worked harder to prove people wrong. If you look at his elite prospects it’s crazy, he just constantly improves.
What do you think is a key skill for a shorter Defenseman?
It’s important to learn how to pivot. Pivoting is massive as you don’t cover as much space with your first step and reach. Also, learn how to attack stick on puck while you make contact, the worst thing that can happen to a player is you getting in under his arms and cutting his hands off. Once you get under their armpits they are done, you’re going to win that battle