Oil Kings assistant coach stays focused during post-season
By CAM TAIT, edmontonjournal.com
April 21, 2012
Edmonton Oil Kings general manager Bob Green, right, welcomes new assistant coach Steve Hamilton with a jersey in July 2010 at Rexall Place.
Photograph by: Candace Elliott
EDMONTON — Steve Hamilton focuses on what’s in front of him — nothing else.
The Edmonton Oil Kings assistant coach, with his usual vantage point on the bench, runs the defence for the Western Hockey League team, which met the Moose Jaw Warriors in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference final series on Friday at Rexall Place.
During home games this season, there have been regular video messages on the jumbotron above centre ice. Greetings have come from members of the Oil Kings team which won the 1963 Memorial Cup as Canada’s best major junior team.
“Sorry, I haven’t seen any of those,” says Hamilton, which is a good indication of his how much concentration he puts into each and every game.
One of those greetings came from Hamilton’s father, Al, who was a member of the 1963 championship team and a member of the WHA and NHL Edmonton Oilers.
Hamilton knows he can get more personal, compassionate encouragement from his family when he needs it the most.
“My dad makes it to as many games as he can, and I know that he is a phone call away if needed. He is a great listener, adds his thoughts, and is really just a fan of the Oil Kings,” says Hamilton, in his second season with the team after a very successful coaching ride with the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
His wife, Nancy, is also a huge Oil Kings booster. More importantly, though, Hamilton says Nancy has always supported his career path.
“She is also the one I count on to keep things in perspective when I need it the most,” he says.
Hamilton isn’t resting on his laurels. He’s focusing on the task at hand — getting past the Warriors to advance to the WHL championship.
Going into Friday’s game, the Oil Kings were unbeaten in 19 consecutive games, including eight in the playoffs.
“There is no sense concerning ourselves with what has already happened,” says Hamilton.
Edmonton’s two post-season consecutive sweeps — against the Kootenay Ice and the Brandon Wheat Kings — has resulted in having several days to practice between series.
But Hamilton says it’s important for both players and coaches to have some time off between series, especially at this time of the year, to recharge their batteries.
“I think it is important to allow for some down time, mentally, between series. Coaching at this time of the year can be extremely stressful and exhausting, so I find that maintaining a healthy balance away from the rink is important,” he says.
Spending time with his family and getting proper exercise helps rejuvenate Hamilton. He wants to be as sharp and as effective as he can be handling the eight young men who make up the Oil Kings blue-line.
Hamilton knows he’s dealing with highly skilled and talented defencemen who are also excellent listeners.
“I am very appreciative to work with a group of eight players that I consider to be very open-minded and willing to continue developing their game,” he says.
“There is no doubt that there is a considerable talent among the group, but also tremendous character and leadership.”
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