Courtesy / GVSU Club Sports
AH: So Coach Link, I talked to a couple of your boys last semester and they told me you have some pretty impressive hockey experience. Where did you play?
CL: I played in Muskegon and Grand Rapids, Traverse City…
AH: Wow, you’re just all over the state!
CL: I am! Yes I am.
AH: I heard you have some scouting experience as well?
CL: Yes, for the [Muskegon] Lumberjacks, yes. I used to be a scout.
AH: Oh used to be, okay. When you played, when you transitioned from playing to scouting and coaching, is there anything you brought from your playing days into your coaching techniques?
CL: Ah, not really. I have friends that coach at higher levels so I got a lot of experience through them when I helped coach the high school over at Mona Shores. The coach there is very knowledgeable, he actually played for Western [Michigan]. Learned a lot from him, and another friend of mine played for the Chicago Blackhawks for like 15 years so I got a lot of stuff from him; I’m around a lot of hockey players and I just pick their brains.
AH: Sounds like you just have an endless vat of knowledge at your disposal!
CL: I do, I certainly do. I’m not as smart as you think I am.
AH: My uncle Steve, Steve McPhee, practices with the Red Wings sometimes, he knows a lot of the guys there now, a lot of alumni too, he’s kind of the same way. Always talking hockey and learning new things about it. He’s a goalie though, so he’s a little weird.
CL: Yeah, exactly, being around people you can go to for tips and tricks is pretty valuable. That’s pretty cool though, that he does that. Was it old time Red Wings?
AH: I have no idea; he just practices with them sometimes and plays in alumni games on occasion.
CL: Oh, I see! It’s cool playing with the professional guys. I was actually fortunate enough to be with the Mona Shores team when Justin Abdelkader was there.
AH: Oh no way! He went to Michigan State after that, right?
CL: Yep, yep, and now he’s with the Wings. I like to think I had a hand in helping him get to where he is now, but it was pretty evident that he was gonna’ go somewhere.
AH: Oh yeah, I’m sure. With that experience, is there anything valuable that you teach your players off the ice, having been a player yourself?
CL: Well, the main thing with college guys, the thing to remember, is that you’re playing as long as you possibly can before going into the real world, so the main thing is school. I think that’s very important.
AH: Yeah, that is, definitely.
CL: It’s the No. 1 reason you’re at Grand Valley. School and hockey complement each other. It gets them prepared for the real world, and that’s what I try to focus on mostly.
AH: When I talked to some of your players, they spoke very highly of the coaching staff. Said stuff like how you guys help them with things that come up in life just as much as you help them on the ice.
CL: Exactly, that’s why I do this. It’s about changing the lives of players. Someone did it for me, and I want to give back. That’s why I do it.