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Buffalo Sabres' head coach Ralph Krueger, seen here during the team's NHL hockey game against the Pittsburgh Penguins in Pittsburgh, on Feb. 22, 2020, will be leading a webinar with over 400 coaches from nine European federations on the topic of career development.

The Associated Press

The NHL Coaches’ Association (NHLCA) has pushed up the start date of its new mentorship program in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After a recent pilot project that included a combined 200 coaches from the AHL, ECHL, NCAA and USHL receiving online instruction and guidance from current NHL bench bosses, a broader program scheduled to be rolled out in October instead went live Friday.

The platform allows NHL coaches to deliver presentations remotely to a large group. Each webinar is recorded and made available to coaches unable to attend the live event.

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The NHLCA said coaches from across North America and Europe have been invited to participate in the program directly by their association or federation.

“Now more than ever, the hockey community needs to come together and support each other in these times of uncertainty,” NHLCA president Lindsay Artkin said in a statement. “Our NHL coaches have been tremendous in taking a leadership role in doing just that. They remain committed to helping in the continued development of all hockey coaches around the world, especially in these challenging times.”

The program will include more than 20 presentations from NHL head, assistant and goalie coaches over the next six weeks, with representation from most teams. Topics are expected to range from leadership, communication, networking and career advancement strategies, to advice about implementing systems, player development and opponent scouting tactics.

“We have a responsibility to take a leadership role in the development of hockey coaches,” Buffalo Sabres head coach Ralph Krueger said. “We’re so fortunate to be coaching in the NHL, so sharing our knowledge and insights with the next generation of coaches is the least we can do.”

Krueger will be leading a webinar with more than 400 coaches from nine European federations on the topic of career development, specifically discussing his own path to the NHL and highlighting differences between coaching in Europe and North America.

The NHLCA said given current protocols from governments calling for social distancing during the novel coronavirus outbreak, the online webinar technology used to deliver the program is a perfect fit.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with the support of our NHL coaches in helping us roll out this program six months ahead of schedule,” NHLCA executive director Michael Hirshfeld said. “We truly believe it can have a meaningful impact on the development of coaches around the world, and during this difficult time, banding together to support coaches is so critical. It’s a role we feel a responsibility to play.”

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