Model Association status a feather in Jr. Kings’ cap
Ever since the Los Angeles Kings assumed operations of the Los Angeles Jr. Kings organization back in the summer of 2016, the NHL club has put forth a renewed and noticeable commitment towards nurturing all levels of hockey across Southern California.
The fruits of their labors resonated loud and clear again last month when USA Hockey announced that the Jr. Kings had earned designation as a Model Association.
With the recognition, the Jr. Kings have committed to fully implement programming dedicated to age-appropriate, age-specific skill development in accordance with USA Hockey’s American Development Model throughout the 8U, 10U and 12U age classifications.
Nick Vachon, the Jr. Kings’ general manager of hockey operations, is confident the decoration will no doubt further enhance the head-to-toe developmental platform of the club.
“Being recognized as a USA Hockey Model Association is both an honor and a privilege, and one our entire organization holds in the highest regard,” said Vachon. “As a club, we’ve always valued and fostered the age-appropriate teachings USA Hockey has instilled, and we look forward to championing that message even further to each and every one of our current and future players and coaches as they work toward reaching their full potential in both a positive and structured environment.
“Everyone involved in our program – most notably our players, coaches and parents – will benefit tremendously from the added support and guidance from USA Hockey as we continue to bring our entire organization to new heights, on and off the ice.”
Kings president Luc Robitaille, also a member of the Jr. Kings’ board of directors, believes the designation will benefit hockey across the region.
“This is an exciting and well-deserved recognition not only for the Jr. Kings, but the entire Southern California hockey community,“ said Robitaille. “Nick and his entire team of coaches have certainly done their homework and worked extremely hard to earn this level of support from USA Hockey, and both our current and future players are sure to benefit from their efforts as it relates to teaching the game in a healthy, positive, productive environment.”
As one of the many perks that comes with being a Model Association, the Jr. Kings will receive in-person coaches training, on-ice instruction and parent resources from USA Hockey’s national staff. What’s more, the club will also receive equipment, signage and educational resources from the nation’s governing body of ice hockey.
Vachon, a longtime coach with the Jr. Kings who assumed his role as the club’s GM of hockey ops when the Kings took over, was instrumental in spearheading the program’s efforts to bolster its ties with USA Hockey.
“As soon as I took the job, one of my priorities was to continue to align our coaching and teaching methods to mirror those of USA Hockey’s,” said Vachon. “We already had a strong relationship with USA Hockey, but I really wanted to polish and fine-tune everything we were doing from a developmental standpoint, starting at the 8U level.
“What’s most encouraging is that were already starting to see the results.”
Along with the Jr. Kings, two other programs were designated as new Model Associations. The total number nationwide now stands at 24.
“We’re pleased to welcome these new Model Associations and we’re excited for the children who’ll benefit from their passion and commitment to age-appropriate skill development,” said Kevin McLaughlin, USA Hockey’s senior director of hockey development. “By taking this step, these new Model Associations are making a strong move to offer the best possible competition and training environment for their players.”
“In the end, it all starts with the Kings and the support of our board of directors; they give us all the necessary resources to earn this type of recognition,” Vachon added. “It’s their vision to not only improve our program, but support and enhance all levels of hockey in Southern California.”
— Brian McDonough
(Sept. 19, 2018)