Matt Boldy knows a thing or two about hockey success.
The Millis, Massachusetts native, former Boston College Eagle and NTDP product has established himself as a cornerstone of the Minnesota Wild franchise.
But before Boldy hit the spotlight, he was just a hockey player focused on having a good time.
“I was just having fun,” recalled Boldy. “There really wasn’t much more to it. I wasn’t focused on making plays or scoring goals and stuff like that. It was about having fun playing hockey.”
We caught up with Boldy for some insight on youth hockey development.
USA Hockey: Take us back just a decade to when you were 12 – what was the biggest thing you remember?
Matt Boldy: I wasn’t too stuck on just playing hockey back then. I think that parents and kids nowadays are really too focused on that. I think playing other sports helps a lot, and the majority of it was just having fun. That’s all I was thinking at 10, 11, 12. That’s all you should be thinking then – having fun.
I think people are a little too focused on making the NHL at 12 years old instead of just playing a game with your friends. Playing sports, trying other sports, it should be about just having fun with your buddies. I can’t stress that enough. It needs to be fun. The parents that are pressuring their kids to be out there five or six days a week, that’s not the recipe for success in my opinion.
USA Hockey: What other sports did you play?
Boldy: It was everything: baseball, golf, lacrosse. I was doing everything at home with my brother too.
USA Hockey: How much of that fun was unstructured play, either at the arena, in the driveway or outside?
Boldy: We had an outdoor rink and that’s the biggest thing to help with your creativity. When you play creative, you play confident with the puck. When I was younger, my coaches were always preaching about making plays and learning how to play hockey versus dump and chase, especially at 12, so when we could get together on the outdoor rink or whatever, it was great to be able to work on that in a fun and relaxed setting.
USA Hockey: How important is learning body contact at a young age?
Boldy: I was a smaller kid when I was younger, so some of that physicalness came when I got bigger and later on. But when I hit my growth spurt, I realized that I needed to use my body more as a weapon and stuff like that in a game. Knowing how to separate a player from the puck so you can gain possession is so important.
USA Hockey: Final words?
Boldy: Don’t take it too seriously. Be a kid. You shouldn’t be stressing yourself out over any sport, and you shouldn’t be so focused on hockey that you forget that it’s a game. It’s a job when you get older if you’re lucky. Enjoy it and have fun with it until then.