Former backup goaltender Kevin Mashavejian, now newly appointed Baruch roller hockey head coach, is a classic example of a player turned coach. Ready for the challenging adjustment from goaltender to head coach, Mashavejian says he’s already learned a lot about his team, citing the tryouts and ECRHA preseason as important assessment tools.
I sat down with the rookie coach to find out what he had learned about a hockey preseason and how he transitioned from playing to coaching.
Freddy Cicchetti: What was the big challenge heading into the preseason?
Coach Mashavejian: Sitting down with the players, seeing where they felt comfortable; and then basically telling them that they were going to see ice time everywhere. Not necessarily where they felt comfortable.
Q: How did they respond? Did their positions change a lot?
Fine, we didn’t want to make big changes in one game. If a player started on defense, that’s where they would finish. Mentally getting ready to play up front or on defense is a big change to ask of the guy’s mid-game.
Q: You already had tryouts and then decided to bring every player to the preseason. Any surprises?
Definitely, one new player in particular looked very average at tryouts. He came to tryouts as a forward, we put him on defense for the first game and he immediately looked really comfortable out there. A great skater fundamentally, who couldn’t really play short-paced offensive shifts because of lacking foot-speed. Sounded like a defense-man to us.
Q: Kevin, you played back-up goaltender for Baruch, graduated last June, now you’re coaching. What’s the process been like? Why do you think you can be a successful coach?
I wish I was still eligible to play. I am really excited about this opportunity though, I have great interpersonal skills, I’m a calming figure on the bench, and I’ve learned a lot from my playing days as far as how to run a four-on-four bench.
Q: You continue to play professional hockey in the AIHL. Coaches often say that once you become a coach, its’ time to hang up the skates and only coach.
There two totally different leagues, my role at the rink changes. It starts before the Baruch games; I’m talking to players and coaches, looking at line combinations, scouting, and being ready to see the game as a longer process. Playing is easier for me; I have my head phones on, stretch and get suited up. The approach to coaching is much more organized and timed. You assess periods, shifts and then try to not over-assess things.