I come from a family of conscientious, talented teachers, so I’m a big fan of the profession. And I’ve always been especially impressed by teachers who not only know their subject, but they’ve lived it; they’ve applied their knowledge in the real world and become better teachers for the experience.
Take Adrian Aucoin, for instance. He’s in his 18th season in the NHL and is one of the most respected veterans in the game. And he still has plenty of game to bring, which, blended with all that experience, makes him one incredible teacher for any defensive partner. This season, it’s young Blue Jackets defenseman John Moore who’s the very willing student attending the Aucoin School of Hockey, and he knows he couldn’t find a better on-ice professor.
“The knowledge he brings to the game and his personality, too, he’s such a great guy,” said Moore. “He’s so easy to talk to; you can really learn a lot. And for me being in the first couple of years of my pro career here, I’m just trying to soak up as much knowledge as I can and really be a sponge.”
You want to accelerate a young player’s NHL learning curve? Then that would be the perfect combination — a heady, veteran player very happy to share the knowledge and a young player paying rapt attention to the instruction. And Moore will tell you he’s already picked up a lot from his veteran D-partner in this season’s early stages.
“Yeah, he’s given me pointers, and I’m really trying to pick his brain,” noted the Illinois native, who is in his second full season in the NHL. “I’m sure I’m probably getting on his nerves a little bit with the amount of questions I ask. He’s been really helpful, and I can’t say enough about him. It’s almost like having another coach and playing with a coach in the sense that he knows so much about everything.”
Is there any one of those pointers that Moore has been able to apply to his game already in this young season?
“I’d say one of the biggest areas is our puck retrieval,” he said. “I think so much of this game is about transition speed, and our job as defensemen is to get the puck out of our hands and into our forwards’ hands. It’s critical to minimize the time in our own end, so we’ve really been working on that and making sure we’re going back and talking for those pucks.
“There are so many talented players, you really need to make sure you know what you’re going to do with the puck when you get it,” he added. “You need to make sure you’re thinking the game because of the skill and speed out there. Adrian has been really helpful in that respect.”
Take a willing student focused on advancing and pair that student with a talented, experienced, conscientious teacher. In hockey, or in any other place on the education spectrum for that matter, it’s the equation that creates the most ideal scenario for quality learning.
That’s what the Columbus Blue Jackets have this year in John Moore and Adrian Aucoin. And it’ll be interesting in this shortened whirlwind of a season to see just how accelerated the student’s learning curve will be at season’s end.