I had a chance to sit down with Davis Payne for a few moments and talk to him about his coaching career so far and what he expects with the Kings. This is part one of a four part series where Davis talks about his well traveled experiences as a player and coach, his communication skills and coaching back when he used to play, compared to coaching today…
Davis’ bio: http://kings.nhl.com/club/page.htm?id=81906
JF: Both your playing and coaching career you have gone through different levels. Minor leagues, a couple of levels there. The NHL. You have experience all over the place. How do you think that helps you as a coach at the NHL level, to go through all of those experiences?
DP: I think it gives you a clear picture of what just about every guy is going through, at any level, in any situation. You understand what it is like to starve. You understand what its like to have that “feast” of lots of success of hockey at the highest level and so for a guy that’s dealing with trying to grind out a career and work his way up and establish himself, that’s one thing. Then you’re looking at established guys and how are they adjusting to becoming a consistent player and then on as a winner. So I think the ability to go through all levels and have all those experiences just to teach you, such a wide array of experiences and I wouldn’t trade any of that “ladder effect” for anything.
JF: When Darryl Sutter made comments after you were hired he said, “we’re looking for a young guy, we’re looking for a communicator”. The experiences that you just talked about. It seems to me that you are getting into the heads of players. Is that part of what you think is strength, for you as a communicator, to kind of empathize with them and then you can communicate back?
DP: For sure, I don’t think you can teach or coach unless you understand what the player might be going through. It’s one thing to kind of force them into a situation and say “black and white”; this is what needs to be done. Its another thing to understand why certain things didn’t happen and to ask the question “hey, what did you see here”…”what did you see on this play”…”what were you thinking”…”what were you feeling”…these are valuable questions and crucial questions to ask of your players so you have a common understanding of what they are going through. So if we don’t ask for this type of information, we make mistakes and I think that is extremely important!
JF: I played back in the 80’s and you played in the 90s. The coaching then, compared to the coaching now. I’m making an assumption that the communication was not necessarily the same back then as it is right now. Is that a pretty solid assumption?
DP: Yes, I think it’s “bang on”. I think the communication back then, that you and I dealt with, was more of, “what are my orders, I’ll go do them”. Nowadays it’s the explanation of “why”, it the explanation of “what’s in it for the player”. Some of these balances that we have to achieve, is all part of the message and getting the message to stick and getting the guys to buy in. We deal with a kid nowadays that for some strange reason society has had this shift where kids are told that they can’t do that, can’t do that, can’t do that and an explanation is necessary so in my opinion, the explanation that these kids have grown up with, because of what they can’t’ do, they can’t stay out at the park late like we used to. “Why” and “why” and “why”, that’s what we deal with. We just deal with that generation wants that information. This is by no means a bad thing. This is just simply what they require in order to feel good about their involvement in the process.