MIKE KING, with his back to the camera, works with members of the Sudbury Wolves, a team in the Ontario Hockey League, as part of his new position as Director of Player Development at RHP Training Centre in Sudbury, Ontario. Courtesy Photo. (click for larger version)
April 02, 2012SUDBURY, Ontario — Mike King has played hockey all over the country and around the world.
But for someone who loves the game of hockey, there's no better place to be than Canada.
And that's just where the Kennett High School graduate has settled down, as he took a position as the Director of Player Development at RHP Training Centre in Sudbury, Ontario early this year.
In his new position, King oversees the development of hockey players from the youngest age all the way up to players skating in the Ontario Hockey League.
"Even NHL players go to sills coaches at times," King said. "They're always looking to get better."
King, who was a star defenseman on some of the early Kennett High School hockey squads, notes that getting the chance to work with the game he loves on a regular basis is a wonderful experience, something he knows not everyone gets the chance to do.
"To be involved with the other side of the game, on a full-time basis, there's not a lot of people who can say they do that," King said. "To be able to get up, go to work and get paid for it and know you can make a living, it's a great thing."
King's job entails that he spends a lot of time in one-on-one interactions with players or groups of players, working on helping them improve their skating skills.
"It's a clinic-based staff, from youth hockey all the way to major level players and pro players as time goes on," King said of his job. "You're going to train an NHL guy almost the same as you would train a youth hockey kid. It's all relevant."
King noted that when working with higher level players, it's all about making things as game realistic as possible. He also does a lot of work with tape, watching players, figuring out how they can improve and where they can make their game more productive.
"As you progress, the little things make a difference," King said. "Time and space at a high level is at a premium."
He noted that his goal is to move forward with his career to the point where he's working with professionals on a regular basis.
"My goal is to be a player development guy and be involved with a professional team," King said. "That's where my career path is heading.
"At this point in my life, when you really sit back and think about it, I had a love of hockey, but I never envisioned myself being involved full-time," he noted. "But if you have a passion for something, find a way to get yourself involved."
After graduating from Kennett, King spent time with the Laconia Leafs Junior Program and also played on the collegiate level for a while before turning professional and playing minor league hockey in the United States and Europe. While the playing career may not have worked out like he hoped, he has found a way to be involved in the game he loves.
King spent a year working with Robby Glantz, the former skating coach for the Los Angeles Kings and at the Hockey Academy, where he was an instructor of head-on ice skills and skating. He credits his getting the gig at RHP to what he picked up in his time working with others.
"I picked up a lot from him (Glanzer)," King said. "Being able to teach that, that's where my niche is, I teach how to become a more efficient skater or a better skater."
He also credits all the coaches he had along the way as being major influences in chasing his hockey dreams.
"I've had the opportunity to play for good coaches, both in the Valley and throughout junior hockey and professionally and had an opportunity to learn from people," he said. "I've picked up things I can pass along now."
King is hoping that reaching his new position at a relatively young age will help him relate to the many kids he works with on a regular basis.
He noted that an injury shortly after leaving Kennett provided him with a glimpse of what his life would be like without hockey and it wasn't something that was terribly enjoyable.
"When I had the injury, I was taken away from what I love to do," he said. "I was able to see that I still enjoy going to the rink and how much I miss being around the rink.
"It made me realize I had a passion for the game and I wanted to be around it," he continued. "It didn't have to be playing."
King considers himself lucky to be in a position where he can pass on the wisdom that he picked up over the years to players who are fighting their way through the system.
"I'm very lucky to have the ability to work with players who are able to take my advice and listen," he said. "I'm lucky to be involved in the game."
As an American, however, it proved a bit more difficult, as RHP had to go through a long process to get him into Canada as an "immigrant."
"They had to go through quite a bit to get me up here," King said. "But it shows they're happy with what I am bringing to the table."
No doubt it was a long and winding road that brought King to the place that he is today, but he wouldn't change what's happened along the way.
"It ended up working out for the best," he said. "I have the opportunity to work with teams and players I never thought I'd be able to do."
Anyone looking for more information on King's new haunts, visit www.rhptraining.com.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 569-3126