Hockey legend Bobby Orr says unrealistic expectations of parents and coaches are driving young players away from the sport that’s supposed to be — above all — fun.
The former all-star is in Moncton for the Chevrolet Safe & Fun Hockey Festival this weekend, talking about his love for the game and reminding people what it’s all about.
"I think back to my minor hockey days, my minor baseball days and those are some of my fondest memories and it should be like that for all kids and unfortunately it’s not," Orr told CBC News.
"And we all have to work together — those coaches, those parents, the officials, those people that run the leagues… teach the fundamentals of the game, but teach good values and make sure it’s a great experience for every kid, not just the talented ones," he said.
"You know minor sports in the community is for fun and recreation for everyone."
Orr says if a child is having fun, they will listen. "If they're listening, there's so much we can teach them."
Humiliating them is not the answer, he stressed.
Orr believes that boys and girls who have the skills and talent to move up in hockey will get the opportunity.
Pushing them to play 12 months of the year isn't necessary, he said.
“Play other sports, have other coaches, other kids, hang around other kids, hang around other parents. I mean, this is what sports is all about — teach values like being respectful, being responsible, being a good person, being a good teammate," says Orr.
"I mean these are values that we can teach our kids while we teach the game."
Orr recalls how his father treated his budding talent when he was a young player.
“People would come to my father and say ‘Boy, your kid is going to play in the NHL.’ And his advice to me was, ‘Look, go out and play and have fun, we'll see what happens.’”