APPERT BRINGS A HUMAN BEFORE HOCKEY MINDSET TO COACHINGNov 9, 2021
By Suzie Cool
When newcomer Peyton Krebs made his way to Rochester last week and joined the Rochester Americans at The Blue Cross Arena for a game against the Toronto Marlies on Friday night, it was a lot.
There were weird dreams, 6 A.M. phone calls, a four-hour car ride and an arrival in a city that he had to get acquainted with in the blink of an eye due to a quick turnaround. However, the one constant for Krebs was the fact that he was coming to the Flower City to play hockey. Something the 20-year-old knows all too well and something that he had in common with his new teammates and coaching staff.
You’d think that’s where Krebs found his comfortability in a new place surrounded by a new organization with new systems, however, that wasn’t the case during his initial sit-down with Amerks head coach Seth Appert following Friday’s morning skate. Instead of immediately talking hockey, the Amerks bench boss took the time to get to know Krebs as a human first.
“When you’re trying to build a relationship with somebody, the first thing that I naturally would do is ask them about who they are as a person,” commented Appert when asked why this was his approach with not just Krebs but any newcomers.
For Appert, it’s important to establish an open line of communication with his players and Krebs noticed just how apparent that was from the moment he walked into the Amerks locker room.
WATCH: SETH APPERT AFTER MONDAY'S PRACTICE
“If any of our players don’t think I care about them as a person, then it’s hard to have the honest conversations necessary to help them grow their game,” said Appert. “If they believe that I honestly care about them, their career and who they are as a human, then they know that I’m coming from a place that I’m trying to help them and usually that allows us to have more honesty in our communication.”
When Krebs saw Appert giving fist bumps and laughing with his team, he immediately knew how much the Amerks value an appreciate the man leading them behind the bench. Then for Appert to sit down with Krebs after a crazy 24-hour period, it was nice to talk about something other than systems or the game he’d be getting into later that night.
Being the head coach of a team in the American Hockey League, Krebs knew Appert didn’t have to take that time to get to know him on a personal level his first day there. On the other hand, Appert feels this is one of the most important things you can do when trying to understand others and for them to feel comfortable in a new environment.
“I think understanding people, first of all, it allows them to be more comfortable and I think it allows us to start to work towards a relationship. If you understand them, you can usually coach them better.”
Thinking about the human before hockey, an approach that Appert doesn’t see as all that interesting, but one that caught the attention of a young, up-and-coming prospect looking to make his mark with the Amerks.