Royal Oak United coach Greg Paddison, center, and other members of the team look on from the bench Feb. 6 in a home game against Birmingham Unified. At press time, the Ravens were 7-13-0 overall.

Royal Oak United coach Greg Paddison, center, and other members of the team look on from the bench Feb. 6 in a home game against Birmingham Unified. At press time, the Ravens were 7-13-0 overall.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Paddison working to change culture at Royal Oak United

By: Jacob Herbert | Royal Oak Review | Published February 12, 2019

 Royal Oak United’s Sean Barvais carries the puck up the ice in a recent home game against Birmingham United. Barvais has recorded one goal and four assists so far this season.

Royal Oak United’s Sean Barvais carries the puck up the ice in a recent home game against Birmingham United. Barvais has recorded one goal and four assists so far this season.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

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ROYAL OAK — Though a state title may be a stretch this season for Royal Oak United hockey — a team made up of players from Royal Oak High, Clawson High and Madison Heights Lamphere — coach Greg Paddison wants these last seven games to mean something. 

Success, not in wins and losses, but in setting a proper precedent for next season is what the coaching staff is after.

“We haven’t given up on the season yet,” Paddison said. “We’re looking at next year and saying, ‘Look, we want to set the standard, and this is what we’re going to expect moving forward.’ We’re trying to demonstrate to the kids … this is what to expect moving forward.”

The first step in changing the culture at United is discipline with the current players. For instance, if a player gets hit after a whistle, the coach doesn’t want his players to retaliate and get a penalty. He wants them to buy in and focus on the little things.

“We have to do this the old-school way,” Paddison said. “If you’re one minute late or 10 minutes late to practice, you’re still late to practice; you’re not wearing a shirt and tie to the game, you’re not dressing. Getting back to those rigid and strict rules.”

Paddison hopes reinforcing those types of rules will build the culture he’s looking for.

One of the current Ravens players who the coach said personifies what he’s looking for is defenseman Ryan Kauffman.

“He came in, great student, great attitude with no ego,” Paddison said. “(He) really tries to lead by example, and you can see the younger kids start to recognize it. He goes about things the right way. That’s what we’re looking for.”

Paddison compared Kauffman to former Detroit Red Wing Nicklas Lidstrom in the sense that the senior doesn’t take a lot of penalties and doesn’t talk back to other players.

 “He sets the bar of what your expectations are,” Paddison said.

The coaching staff is also working on building junior programs. It can be a tall talk to ask freshmen, some of whom may not have a lot of hockey experience, to compete with upperclassmen who are in a different league with their physicality and knowledge of the game.

“That’s why we’re really pushing for a JV program. It benefits everybody,” Paddison said. “It benefits the higher end kids, because they’ve got better competition at practice and we can schedule more difficult opposition. It benefits the younger kids, because they’re playing against kids that are similarly situated and they’re getting more ice time.”

The hope for Paddison and his staff is to meet with the younger kids in the area and convince them to come play hockey at Royal Oak. If enough interest is generated, there will be no choice but to add a junior varsity program among others to funnel kids up to the varsity level.

Paddison was persistent in noting that a process like this takes time and it is not a short-term gig. As players mature and move up in grades, he has been seeing the players carry themselves in a way that not only benefits the team, but also makes the coaches happy. 

Call Sports Writer Jacob Herbert at (586) 498-1062. Follow Sports on Twitter @CandGSports.

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