If you follow any variety of hockey in Greater Victoria, chances are the name Craig Didmon rings a bell.
Didmon has been selected as one of the assistant coaches for the Victoria Royals in the Western Hockey League.
Living and breathing hockey, Didmon is also director and head coach of the Sooke School District West Shore Hockey academy, He also had a stint as assistant coach for the junior A Victoria Grizzlies.
“I spent two years with the Grizzlies and I learned a lot there. This is just the next step,” Didmon said.
During Royals home games, Didmon will sit in the media box watching the game from above. He will communicate with coaching staff at ice level.
From above Didmon will asses the other team’s line up and how it handles a power play.
“I am watching for tendencies of our team and the other team,” Didmon said. “I’ll be watching for how they are on the floor and their checking.”
Watching the game from a different angle and separating himself from the team will give a needed perspective to correct problems before they become ingrained, Didmon said.
“You are not getting caught up in doing other things and jobs,” he said. “I am sitting on the outside.”
He will be separated from the team during games, but during practices it’s a different story. “I have a big role in practices,” Didmon said. He will be running drills and working with players.
At the Royals tryouts, Didmon was pleased to see about a dozen former West Shore academy players on the ice.
“It’s tough to evaluate them when I am looking at them with rose-coloured glasses,” Didmon said. “I’d love to see local kids make it.”
Working with the Royals will help him run the West Shore hockey academy, now in its second year as a merged unit with players from Belmont secondary and Spencer middle schools.
This year the academy will operate out of the Westhills Arena in Langford.
“(Royals head coach) Marc Habscheid has taught me so much, he’s a great leader,” Didmon said. “Marc is a great delegator.”
Didmon said this year the high school portion of the academy will be based on tactical development. His aim is to prepare young players for a higher level of hockey.
“It’ll be more about playing the game and decision making,” Didmon said.
For the middle school students, the academy focuses on skills building and technical development.
This is the seventh year Didmon has been running a high school hockey academy on the West Shore. Growing more popular every season, 150 students are signed up for the year. It had 48 players when the academy was first introduced.
“This is one of the largest academies in the country of its kind,” Didmon said.
Somehow Didmon finds time to coach his son Ty’s peewee team in Sooke. Although he’s moved his way up into the WHL, his peewee players have known him for years, so they aren’t star struck.
“They do give me the table when I want to talk though,” Didmon said. “I think they like it, and I am sure they’ll get some perks.”