Bishop Kearney Selects program director Chris Collins joins Kirk Luedeke on the latest episode of New England Hockey Journal’s RinkWise podcast.
A native of Fairport, N.Y., Collins played four seasons at Boston College before an eight-year career in the AHL, ECHL, and other pro leagues in Europe. Following his retirement in 2014, he spent two seasons as an NAHL scout, prior to starting his current position with BK Selects.
In addition to his role as director, Collins serves as head coach of the program’s 15 Only boys team which, as of Dec. 3, ranks 3rd in the country among 15O teams at the Tier 1 level.
“It’s how to be a hockey player,” Collins said of the overall mission at BK Selects, based in Rochester, N.Y.
“All of the intangibles — blocking shots, winning battles, being good teammates and character players — that’s really what we’re trying to do here. All of the stuff that’s super important at the next level, that’s what we’re trying to ingrain in these kids.”
At 5-foot-8, 183 pounds, Collins, now 37, was an underdog player who had to battle to prove himself day in and day out.
Playing against older competition as a youth, and in the USHL as a high school senior, required a strong commitment to making his presence felt, no matter what.
“I was probably the only guy ever to get in a fight at an All-Star Game,” Collins joked.
“I just played with an edge and always felt like I had something to prove. Every day in practice, I felt like I had to fight for my spot. And nothing changed at BC. That’s just how it was. I took that and used it my whole career and it ended up getting me pretty far.”
You don’t always have to be scoring goals, the Taft School alum said, but it’s crucial to “figure out a way to contribute and make it so the coaches have to play you.”
“Every level you get to you’re not going to start out as a top-six forward or a top-four D playing power-play minutes, that’s just not realistic,” Collins added. “You have got to figure out a way to get in the lineup and have an impact every night in some way.”
For him, that meant being a stud on the penalty kill, blocking shots, or scoring the occasional short-handed goal — anything that changed the momentum of a game.
“That was really my identity at college, and then senior year I got some opportunities to play on the power play. One thing led to another, confidence started snowballing, and I went from 16 points my junior year to leading the country in scoring.
“But that was a product of all the different years of going through all of those battles and learning how to adjust and trying to fit into a lineup any possible way I could.”
Those same qualities that he displayed in his playing career are the ones he’s trying to down to his player at BK Selects, where he works alongside former NHLer and Rochester, N.Y., native Ryan Callahan, who serves as BK’s Director of Player Development.
“Whether it’s big-time power-play minutes or just three shifts a period, that’s the stuff that you have to do to eventually get the opportunity to get the points and all of that,” Collins said.
“A lot of young kids don’t understand that process and that’s what we’re trying to do here at BK, especially.”
For more from Chris Collins on his playing career, developing kids the right way with Bishop Kearney Selects, and more, listen to the full podcast today.
RinkWise is brought to you by Sacred Heart University, University of Nebraska High School, and Bruce Haas’ “Great Game!: D-1 College Hockey: People, Places, Perspectives.”
(Previously on the podcast: Mark Divver, Paul Cannata, Jeff Cox, Jordan Harris, Bobby Farnham, Steve Jacobs/Paul Pearl, Kent Hughes, Mark Dennehy, Ben Barr, Troy Thibodeau, Swaggy P/Torrey Mitchell/Kevin Sneddon of Elev802, Paul Mara)