Coach Urges to Develop Players

I just got around to reading this today, it’s from Tuesday’s London Free Press, but this is a great article with great comments from London Nationals coach Kelly Thomson about how teams need to develop their players rather than go out and try to buy up the already developed ones.

Develop players, coach urges 

By Ryan Pyette, The London Free Press

Kelly Thomson believes the London Nationals’ first-round upset victory over the Chatham Maroons is a win for the future of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.

“Hopefully, it’s a bit of a lesson (to Chatham),” the Nats head coach said. “It’s two years in a row (the Maroons) haven’t been able to necessarily accomplish what their goal was and maybe it’s time to start looking at it a different way.”

The core of the Chatham group was built with veteran players, several acquired in trades. The Maroons finished with 10 20-year-olds — including goalies Jake Patterson and Bo Bessette — this year. Last season, the club’s GM was suspended, the team stripped of player cards and fined by the Ontario Hockey Association for failing to properly declare its imports.

“Hopefully, the league gets back to developing players and teams as opposed to looking at a stats sheet and doing their trade deadline based on that,” Thomson said. “It’s much harder for everyone else to operate that way. It hasn’t been the norm for years and hopefully, we’ll see the end of it.

“There are a lot of teams in this league able to accomplish a lot with local kids and homegrown talent.”

Now, don’t forget London has the largest pool of players to draw from in the conference.

That gives the Nationals a built-in advantage over smaller communities like Chatham.

But Thomson is arguing the construction of an older super team (the Maroons finished 23 points ahead of the Nationals in the standings before falling in six games) runs counter to the objective of a developmental Junior B league.

“It makes it difficult when you put these kids on a pedestal and put a price tag (in players moved for cash) on them so high to come in and perform, it takes a lot out of them,” Thomson said. “It puts undue pressure on them and it’s not good for them. When it’s a bit of a revolving door, the guys don’t have the time to mesh and become a cohesive unit. Hopefully, the league and player movement goes back to what it was a couple of years ago.”

Thomson has no such beef with London’s next foe — the Western Conference regular-season champion Leamington Flyers.

“(Flyers GM) Mike Sadler is one of the best in the league in developing players and running his team the way it should be run,” he said. “But I think we take the same approach to Leamington as we did with Chatham. You dissect them and get the boys on board with the game plan. We’re playing with house money here.

“No one expected us to be here so there’s no reason we don’t go take a good swing at (the Flyers).”

Just don’t expect the post-series parting shot to be so blunt this time.


You all know that I am a die-hard Rockets fan, but I am also a die-hard GOJHL fan, having been watching Jr. B hockey since I was 10 years old. I will only watch the GOJHL and during the hockey season, you never know what arena RG is gonna show up at. I'm bringing you the games, news, and updates of the GOJHL. RG is on Facebook at and you can find me on Twitter at If you hear of anything about any of the teams in the GOJHL, or have questions about anything, feel free to post it. If I don't know the answer, I know how to find it.


  1. Welland fan

    March 13, 2015 at 6:19 pm

    The comment left under the story on the London Free Press hit the nail on the head.

    He brags about beating a Chatham team coached by the video guy, then goes on about developing players…Even though his own team spent like 30k on bringing guys in two years ago.

    Kind of a dumb move to preach like that when your team does the same thing.

  2. RocketGirl

    March 12, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    I agree that London’s usual MO is to trade away their younger players for older players and then get those guys back when they get to be 19 or 20, and have been developed by others, but I still agree with the message that is in this article.

  3. Welland fan

    March 12, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    London has done the same many times. Two last year they brought in Passero from Fort Erie, they got those kids from St.Marys that they traded there previously.

    London is just as guilty of trading for developed talent. I guess just because they didn’t this year…

    Chatham also develops players. Last season they sent Verbeekand Johnston to the OHL, Tetrault is probably headed there next year. So Chatham added Patterson, Bessette, Ford & Beenackers.

    Not much when you look at what the other teams have done. The only thing different is Chatham is rumored to spend a lot of money on their imports at times.

    Imports are imports, trading for developed talent is the same no matter who has done it.

    Sarnia has brought in a lot of pre-developed talent as well…Nobody ever mentions that though…Or Waterloo, St.Catharines, Caledonia ext.

    A nice write up, but London is just as guilty of doing the same.

  4. David Honsberger

    David Honsberger

    March 12, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    A lot of wisdom from this article. We certainly have gotten away from our primary purpose – to develop young men to prepare them for the next level. Our thirst for glory and championships has gotten in the way. Teams do need to be finacially profitable, but sometimes our means to that end has come into question. Our success should really lie in putting an entertaining product on the ice and developing players to be fine young men, and sometimes great hockey players too.

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