Best of TCS Live Presentations: Leadership & Culture
Best of TCS Live Presentations: Leadership & Culture

Best of TCS Live Presentations: Leadership & Culture

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Culture is a popular buzzword in today’s sporting world. What exactly is it and why is it so important to have for team success?

In the final installment of the Best of TCS Live, we highlight some of the top presentations from last year’s conference on the topic of leadership and culture building.

At TCS Live, presenters dive deep into their philosophies and methods for creating not only a positive environment for your players, but the hockey community as a whole.

Check out these must-watch presentations that will no doubt have you thinking about your player relationships, including one from 2023 presenter, San Diego Gulls Head Coach Matt McIlvane.

Best of TCS Live series:

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Cara Morey – Building Resiliency in your Players & Program

Cara Morey just completed her sixth year leading the Princeton women’s hockey program. Since the Ontario product was announced as head coach in June of 2017, the program has won its first ECAC tournament title, won an Ivy League championship, qualified for two NCAA quarterfinals, set the program wins record, and established itself as a weekly inclusion in the national top-10 rankings.

How is such a turnaround possible? At TCS Live in Ann Arbor this past June, Morey shared some insights in her presentation titled Developing Resiliency and Grit in the Modern Player.

“When I was first hired to coach at Princeton 11 years ago, the head coach said to me: “Cara, I remember you as a player. You were always the toughest kid on the ice and your teams were so hard to play against. I need you to bring that mentality here. We’re soft. I need you to make the Tigers tougher.”

Morey says one word early and often in her presentation: grit. What is grit? Why does it matter? How can you develop it in your athletes? Watch Morey’s talk to learn about grit, how she created a championship culture and the secrets for developing an environment that inspires excellence.

Watch the full presentation.

Matt McIlvane – Building a Culture for Big Moments

One might not think a hockey team’s performance can be broken down into a simple equation, but Matt McIlvane, newly named Head Coach of the San Diego Gulls, has one in mind.

He believes a team’s performance, the way they end up playing on the ice, is the team’s talent x how it works, how it acts and how it thinks. Essentially, performance = capability x behaviour.

“The first step we take is we want to connect with our team and we want to collaborate. This can come in individual meetings, it can be phone calls. We use a questionnaire at the beginning of the season. We want to find out a little about their families, what is their game look like when it’s at the top, what does it look like when they’re struggling and how can we as coaches help them get back to neutral.”

During his talk at last year’s TCS Live, McIlvane discusses the line between winning and losing and what those terms should actually mean to your team, his pyramid of success, what “above the line” thinking is, and why “on task, next task” is one of the most important terms you can have as a coach.

Watch the full presentation.

Leah Hextall – Not One of the Boys

Last season, Leah Hextall became the first woman to call NHL play-by-play full-time for a national network. 


She’s also the first woman to call play-by-play for a nationally televised NHL game, the first to call an NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey Championship game, and the first to do play-by-play for the Men’s NCAA Division I Hockey Tournament. Hextall is a trailblazer and when the ESPN commentator speaks, well, she always has something important to say.

That was especially the case when she spoke as one of the headliners at TCS Live, this past June at the University of Michigan. What Hextall had to say was raw, emotional and shocking, but sadly not surprising.

“I thought we were further along than what we are, but due to what I experienced on social media and also within the game when dealing with hockey people on a day-to-day basis, we are not where we need to be. It’s because of a lack of representation when it comes to women in the game. The positive aspect is that I believe QUOTE, so we can have more representation of not only women, but anyone who has traditionally not been represented within our sport.”

Hextall’s presentation was the highlight (and lowlight, understandably) of TCS Live and of the 36 presenters who spoke during the three day hockey coaching masterclass, no one’s talk garnered more support from those lucky enough to be in attendance.

Watch the full presentation.