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JUNE 26, 2023

5 Tips for Success from Head Coaches of the NHL

André Tourigny, Head Coach, Arizona Coyotes

Dominique Ducharme, Former Head Coach, Montreal Canadiens

Louis Jean moderator, Head Anchor, TVA Sports


With the backdrop of the latest round of NHL Draft picks, BMO Private Wealth held a fascinating, and timely, in-person event with two of the NHL’s most respected coaches, André Tourigny, Head Coach for the Arizona Coyotes, and Dominique Ducharme, former Head Coach of the Montreal Canadiens. The lively conversation, moderated by TVA Sports’ Louis Jean, was interspersed with entertaining anecdotes and important lessons learned – for anyone – on and off the ice. Here are our top 5 takeaways.


1. Be Coachable

In hockey and in life, it’s important to be receptive, and “coachable.”  Former Habs player Alexander Romanov (recently traded to New York Islanders), is a prime example of a “coachable” athlete and why they’re appreciated. “Working with him every day was a pleasure,” Ducharme recalled. Despite coming from Russia and not knowing the language or culture of Montreal, the 22-year-old defenceman was always eager and willing to give it his best.

He surrounded himself with good people and reached out to coaches, older teammates, anyone who would help him adjust, explained Ducharme, while challenging himself to get better.


2. Adopt the Right Attitude

No question, the right skillset will help you succeed. But having the right attitude takes that hockey player one step above. “They’re driven, not just to be in the NHL but to get a better contract and to live up to the contract,” shares Tourigny of the elite crop of athletes he’s witnessed over the years. “There’s a sense of urgency there,” he adds, sharing that many of the top NHL players are constantly “on edge,” striving for always to improve.

The common denominator among them all is their approach to the game. Tampa Bay Lightning’s Corey Perry is a perfect example, shared Ducharme. A 37-year-old wouldn’t still be playing in the NHL without a great attitude. Always the first to arrive at the arena and one of the last to leave before heading to the gym, the right attitude will eventually get him into the Hall of Fame, Ducharme predicted.


3. Pursue Your Passion

Reflecting on his early days of coaching, Ducharme shared how little he earned and how hard he worked. “But it was fun,” he stated. “That’s where it started, and then you slowly go up the ranks.” But if you don’t have that passion, he added, it’s a much tougher slog. The same lesson applies to the players – or anyone for that matter. “A lot of the ones who make it to the league are there because of the passion, the commitment and doing everything they can to bring something to their team every day.”

“The key words are ‘every day’,” agreed Tourigny. And that passion could mean the difference between the first line and the fourth line in the NHL. “It’s not about talent, it’s the work ethic, preparation, good body language and enthusiasm with your teammates.” After all, it’s not the best player but the best team player that makes the best team.


4. Be Consistent

As a coach, you want to know that the player you send on the ice delivers as expected. It’s like playing cards, Ducharme shared. “I want to know the card I’m putting on the table.” If you think you’re putting down a ten but some days it’s a King and other days it’s a two, that inconsistency can make a coach uncomfortable. “Especially when you have big games, you don’t want to guess.”

“We’re not gamblers,” added Tourigny. “I want to make sure I put the right guy on the ice and know what he will do. And if I can’t trust you will do your job, I will put someone else in your place.” When that happens, the other guy may better earn the coach’s trust leading him to increase his ice time while yours diminishes. “At end of day, this guy doesn’t play,” Tourigny shared. “At the end of day, it’s consistency.”


5. Embrace Adversity

Like other hockey dads, Ducharme does what he can to support his kids in realizing their dreams. “Parents play such a key role in a hockey player’s life,” he said. But, while being supportive is great, it’s equally important to let them face adversity; it will make them stronger. “Don’t be scared to put your kids in situations where they must figure their way out, let them fight to get their ice time, let them learn how to be coachable.”

It's a lesson you can learn from Sydney Crosby, echoed Tourigny. Despite his injuries, Crosby worked hard and bounced back. “That’s how you react to adversity.”

Remember: you can talk about passion and desire all day but it’s what you do that matters. Every team wants to win, shared Ducharme, so put in the work if you want to succeed.

Great advice helped you succeed as an athlete. It can help you secure your financial future too.


At BMO Wealth Management, we have a team of athlete specialists who understand the challenges you’ll face during all stages of your career and life – from fluctuations in income and unpredictable career spans, to family obligations, privacy issues and transitioning to life after the final whistle. Our professionals help you manage all aspects of your financial future including investment management, banking, trusts, insurance, philanthropy, taxes, cross-border solutions and financial planning.

To learn more about how we work with athletes and coaches or to speak with an experienced BMO Wealth Management advisor, visit

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