Ex-NHLer Armstrong takes reins as LAKHSHL commissioner
Fourteen-year NHL veteran Derek Armstrong has taken over the role from Jim Fox, who had led the Kings league in its first two years. Armstrong serves as the director of hockey programming and curriculum for the Kings and has been part of the high school league since it began in 2015.
“Derek has been heavily involved in the high school league since its inaugural season, and he really knows the ins and outs of the league,” said Emma Tani, the coordinator of league and rinks, hockey development for the Kings. “That, in conjunction with his extensive NHL career, his success running a CHL team and his overall passion for the game, made him an obvious choice.
“Not only is ‘Army’ great with the players, but he is passionate about growing the game, which is the objective of our department. His upbeat attitude and hockey IQ is truly unparalleled.”
Armstrong said he was thrilled to be assigned to his new post Sept. 1, and would approach it with the same passion he displayed during his playing career.
“’Foxy’ did an amazing job as the league’s first commissioner and is such an incredible ambassador for the sport of hockey, and when I was approached about it, I said I’d love to take on this new role,” Armstrong said. “I enjoy growing the game and being around the rink, and I think I have a pretty good grasp of what’s going on in the league.”
Last season, Armstrong’s duties involved overseeing coaching for the league’s 15 varsity and junior varsity teams. He visited each team at least once for on-ice coaching sessions that players and coaches found invaluable in adding to their understanding of the game. His drop-ins with teams consisted of him getting on the ice with the players, working on new skills and bringing a fresh and different approach to practices.
He’ll continue to do that moving forward, but will also play a key role in decision-making and shaping the direction of the league.
“The biggest reason I took on this job was to help grow the game of hockey,” Armstrong said. “The high school age group is a tough one for hockey, and it’s turned into such an expensive sport that I think the high school league is a really great option for a lot of players. It keeps kids loving this great game and teaches a lot of great life lessons.”
Tani said Fox stepped aside because his commitments as a Kings broadcaster and to some other projects left him with less and less time to dedicate to league. His role in getting the league off the ground as its first commissioner and the positive impact he had on the league, however, can’t be understated.
“We are incredibly grateful that he was able to remain commissioner for two seasons,” Tani said.
Armstrong, who has two high-school aged children of his own, knows that the decisions he makes as the commissioner of the LAKHSHL can having lasting impacts on the lives of countless student-athletes.
“I don’t want to change my role too much because I really enjoy getting on the ice with the kids and teaching them the game,” Armstrong said. “But I’ll be in a position to make some more decisions and help kids continue to develop as hockey players and people. I think the biggest responsibility with this role is to continue stressing the progress of the league. It’s not a AAA league – it’s for kids to have fun playing hockey. It’s intended to be a similar experience to what kids get playing other sports for their high school teams.”
— Greg Ball
(Sept. 26, 2017)