South Korean hockey coach and former Grand Rapids Griffins assistant coach Jim Paek spoke with The Coaches’ Site regarding his journey with the Korean national ice hockey team:
Being a part of Olympic hockey is great for our team, it’s helped tremendously, giving [the sport] a lot more visibility. And with how hockey in China has taken off, that’s grown the sport on this side of the world, and it’s given notice to the rest of the world that there is hockey over here in Asia.
For us in the hockey world right now, there’s a huge buzz. The media coverage we’re getting for the hockey team is fantastic, it’s on TV and in the papers. It’s never been seen before and people are starting to notice the sport. It’s really exciting.
There are always hurdles and obstacles you have to overcome. But with the support from the Korean Ice Hockey Association, people in the hockey circle, and even the fans now, especially with the media supporting us, we’re really fortunate.
The Olympics are not the end goal for us, it’s just the start. Being a part of the Olympics here is the start of something great to come for Korean hockey.
When you go to one of the IIHF conferences and then you can see all the countries that are involved in hockey, it’s unbelievable. Kuwait, India, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, places you never thought there’d be hockey have teams now.
Why? It’s a great sport. Once you play it, you get hooked. It teaches you a lot of things and life skills — team play, leadership, discipline. And it’s a great sport to watch.