Vincent's teaching techniques include everything from having players skate backward slowly on one leg to hooking them up to a bungee cord, all to help a player's balance. Vincent teaches the way he learns—by using models. For example, in helping center Brian Holzinger work on stickhandling last week, Vincent watched tapes of Mario Lemieux, noticed subtleties in Lemieux's grip and arm positioning, and had Holzinger emulate those nuances.
Vincent chooses models to correspond to particular students and aspects of the game. He also draws from athletes outside hockey. He will study Tiger Woods's stance or Mark McGwire's crouch and the power that emanates from those postures and devise what he calls "on-ice scenarios" to impart what he has observed. "A lot of drills seem odd," says wing Kyle Freadrich, who spent time at Vincent's school last summer. "Then the little things he's been focusing on come together. My game improved like night and day."
Then there's Tampa Bay's Paul Mara, who grew up near Vincent and, at 21, is one of the league's most promising offensive defensemen. "I've gone to him since I was seven," Mara says. "He's made me into the player I am. The guy's just brilliant."
Referees' Penalty Calls
Talking Zebras Will Be Common
Fans who rail at referees are getting a clearer sense of whom they're yelling at. Last January, on national TV broadcasts, refs began announcing penalties directly into the camera near the official scorers' bench. Fans and teams have reacted so favorably to the practice that refs will soon start doing it on local telecasts as well. The league is also discussing having refs wear microphones so they can use arena public-address systems to announce penalties to the fans in the stands, as NFL officials do. Referees did that at an AHL game in Kentucky last week, and advocates say it's a more intimate method than the current practice of having penalties announced by the arena P.A. voice. While there's no target date for the NHL in-arena announcements, the league's director of officiating, Andy Van Hellemond, says, "We're moving in that direction."