The first installment of "Game Misconduct: The Assault on The State of Hockey," City Pages' two-part report on Minnesota's hallowed amateur game, comes out tomorrow morning.
It's an in-depth look examining the forces behind the evolution of a kids' game into the youth hockey machine.
Heavily featured in both parts is Tim Poehling. He's the father of three highly touted sons who make up the top line for the top-ranked AA team in the state, the Lakeville North Panthers.
As a hockey parent with kids who've been identified as high-end talents, Poehling has been privy to the torrent of pressures and exploitation infecting youth hockey at every level.
It's a cult of becoming the next big thing in a system built to get there as fast as possible.
According to Poehling, one of the casualties of the changing game, in which more and more players buck the state's deliberate, unhurried tradition of player development for an accelerated fast track, is being a good teammate.
"People get so wrapped up in developing a player's skills," says Poehling, "that it becomes all about themselves. There's become this mindset where you lost the game 9-3, 'but I got a hat trick.' What good is it to be a player with incredible skills, who hasn't learned what it takes to be a good teammate?"
Poehling's three oldest sons, two seniors and a sophomore, have already accepted scholarships to play college hockey at St. Cloud State.
He has a tip for hockey parents who fancy Division I dreams for their kids: Forget the development fast track so focused on producing the elite player and shift the focus to raising a good human being.
"Three things need to occur to play Division I hockey," says Poehling. "You have to be a good hockey player. You have to be a good teammate. And you have to be a good human being. Nobody is focusing on the last two."
Send tips to Cory Zurowski.