Ex-NHL player Lemieux visits Glenwood | PostIndependent.com

Ex-NHL player Lemieux visits Glenwood

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, Colo.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS” What a difference a year makes.

When former National Hockey Leaguer Alain Lemieux visited Glenwood Springs to work with the youngsters and coaches of the Glenwood Grizzlies youth hockey program this past week, he found a thriving program.

Even with a distressed economy wreaking havoc on families’ wallets, numbers are up since he visited to conduct clinics in February. The Grizzlies are up to 134 players, 28 more than were in the program last year.

The coaching staff is at an all-time high in terms of ability and background in the sport.

Quite simply, hockey is turning into a serious sports option for the youth of the Roaring Fork Valley.

“You can see the difference,” Lemieux said, contrasting last week’s visit to his previous one.

Lemieux, the older brother of Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux, spent the week drilling youngsters and coaches alike as part of his work with Alain Lemieux Hockey Schools. It’s the first of two week-long stops in Glenwood this hockey season. He’ll be back again early in 2009.

It’s all just another step in the grooming of the young Glenwood Springs Youth Hockey Association (GSYHA), which is less than a decade old.

Lemieux’s been running his hockey school for more than a decade, traversing the continent to assist programs throughout the United States and Canada.

While players benefit from his tutelage, it’s the coaches who stand to absorb the most from Lemieux’s teachings.

“A lot of coaches are dads who work during the day,” the former St. Louis Blue, Quebec Nordique and Pittsburgh Penguin said. “There’s not a lot of time for practice

preparation. … I help by giving them new drills, different ways to run practices.”

Lemieux also assists organizations with fundraising, using his connections to provide raffle or auction items liked signed jerseys from big names like Sidney Crosby or his brother, Mario.

Everyone, from the kids on up to the coaches, were overwhelmingly receptive to Lemieux’s presence.

“It energizes them,” GSYHA President Peter Tibbetts said. “They get that extra motivation to be out on the ice. … The young kids are giddy being around Alain.”

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