SPIRIT PARTNER WITH TOTAL PACKAGE HOCKEY FOR SKILL DEVELOPMENT
SAGINAW, Mich. – Saginaw Spirit General Manager Dave Drinkill announced Wednesday the hiring of Brandon Naurato and Sean Perkins from Total Package Hockey as Skill Development Coaches.
“By adding Brandon and Sean as our new skill coaches, it continues the reconstruction of the Saginaw Spirit program. Having the opportunity to meet both of these individuals this past season, it is easy to see why they have become the premier instructors and teachers of skill development in Michigan.”
Naurato, 31, brings a wealth of knowledge to the forefront including a familiarity with the state of Michigan. A Livonia, Michigan native, Naurato played his NCAA college hockey at the University of Michigan where he won a CCHA Championship in 2008. Naurato’s pro career spanned 180 games between Stockton (ECHL), Toledo (ECHL), Port Huron (IHL), Fort Wayne (CHL), and Dayton (CHL). Naurato is the Director of Hockey Operations in the Detroit branch of Total Package Hockey, which opened its doors in 2012.
Perkins, 29, grew up 90 minutes away from Saginaw in Commerce Township. The Detroit Compuware graduate played 130 junior games between the USHL, NAHL, and BCHL. Perkins also logged a lot of miles during his pro career, spanning five seasons. Perkins spent parts of three seasons in the ECHL with Cincinnati, Greenville, and Idaho. Parts of two seasons in Edinburgh (United Kingdom), a season in Demark, 10 games in Vimmerby, Sweden, and one season in the Central Hockey League with Missouri and Allen. Like head coach Spencer Carbery, Sean Perkins is also an ECHL Kelly Cup Champion, winning his with the Cincinnati Cyclones in 2008.
“Brandon and Sean work tirelessly on their trade.” said Drinkill. “They are constantly looking for new and innovative ways to help players reach their highest potential. Our players should be very excited to work with TPH throughout the season. I want to officially welcome Brandon, Sean, and Total Package Hockey to the Spirit family, as we start a new era of Saginaw Spirit hockey.”
Total Package Hockey is one of the largest hockey service providers in the country, providing programs to over 4,000 players and supporting more than 200 coaches, administrators, and volunteers each year. They manage and support youth and adult hockey programs from Detroit to Atlanta. TPH specializes in skill-based player development from grassroots and outreach programs that introduce the game to elite programs with a track record of moving players to junior and college hockey.
“We are honored and excited to be a part of the Saginaw Spirit Staff.” said Naurato. “It is our goal to help support the coaching staff and ownership group to develop future professionals through on-ice development and off-ice mentoring. Thank you to Dick Garber, Craig Goslin, and Dave Drinkill for the opportunity and their innovative approach to player development.”
Spirit head coach Spencer Carbery also touted the talents of TPH: “Brandon and Sean will be extremely valuable additions to our hockey operations staff. They possess the ability to help our players develop their skills and continue to improve. This addition will not only be great for our current players, but for our future players as well.”
To find out more information on Total Package Hockey, visit their website at www.totalpackagehockey.com
Former Michigan player has previously worked with Larkin and other NHL stars
DETROIT — The Detroit Red Wings do not plan to leave any stone unturned when it comes to developing their young prospects.
Shawn Horcoff, director of player development, and Dan Cleary, player development assistant, are in constant contact with all the young players in the organization, whether they’re in junior hockey, college hockey or over in Europe.
Now the Wings have added Brandon Naurato, managing partner and director of player development for Total Package Hockey, as a consultant.
“I had a meeting with Kris Draper (assistant to the general manager) and really my big thing this year was I clipped every single goal scored in the NHL this year and just started identifying trends and how to manufacture offense,” Naurato said in a phone interview Monday. “So I was showing Drapes and then he connected me with Shawn Horcoff and that kind of led into Horcs and I building a relationship. Then he invited me to present on some of the findings to the forwards and defensemen at development camp and then kind of push some pucks for (Grand Rapids Griffins coach) Ben Simon’s practice.
“That just kind of spiraled into opening up an opportunity as a player development consultant to support him and Dan Cleary from the player development side and work on some other stuff with the coaching staff. So it’s been good.”
Detroit coach Jeff Blashill has said many times this offseason that he and his staff are focused on finding ways to create more offense.
The Wings missed the playoffs for the second straight season, finishing with the fourth-lowest total goals with 212.
Only Montreal (207), Arizona (206) and Buffalo (198) had fewer.
The Tampa Bay Lightning led the league with 290 goals.
“I always give the disclaimer and bad joke that I’m not an analytics guy and I’m not a video guy,” Naurato said. “But I came up with my own data almost to simplify the game and show where these goals were coming from, like zones on the ice, off of specific types of plays – was it off the rush, was it in zone – then just identifying the different ways to score and that showed this team scores this way, this team scores this way. There were trends that came up that showed the top five teams in the league were scoring in a similar fashion.
“Then when you clipped the bottom five teams in the league, it showed where the lack of offense is coming from. Clipping goals is one thing, it kind of gives you a snapshot but really clipping every shot attempt or scoring chance really tells the full story of what your identity is as a team and where you can improve, in my opinion, and where you’re good.”
One player who is already good but wants to be even better is Dylan Larkin, who worked with Naurato earlier this summer.
“Working on goal scoring, getting stronger,” Larkin said during the lunch break at the Larkin Hockey School on July 12. “I think my biggest thing is conditioning. I always try and run a lot and make sure I’m in great shape coming into camp. But I’ve been working with Brandon Naurato with a couple other pro guys about goal scoring and on my one-timer as well.”
Naurato said he’s also been working with Larkin on some different power-play options, depending on Larkin’s power-play role this coming season.
“With Dylan, he’s obviously an elite player and has great, I always call it tools in the toolbox,” Naurato said. “So with guys like that, it’s almost just giving them the visual of here’s some things that you do well. NHL players really don’t have glaring weaknesses or things that they’re doing poorly. But there’s some minor adjustments that they can make and you show those trends through the video to where it may make their lives easier or just make them more efficient.
“A random example that has nothing to do with Dylan would be if I show all the guy’s shot attempts in a 10-game segment, he’s going to see exactly where he’s getting his shots from, which shots are getting blocked, which shots are hitting the net and how he’s scoring his goals. If you find a trend that he’s getting shots blocked in a specific area, well then you just dive deeper and say why and is there some type of skill that I can help him acquire to start being more efficient and getting those shots through.”
Naurato, who played for the University of Michigan from 2005-09, said this sort of development work wasn’t readily available back when he was Larkin’s age.
“Absolutely nothing. I still feel that like analytics and skills and player development are still buzz words right now, like I don’t think there’s too many people out there that can really tell you what that means,” Naurato said. “There’s some industry leaders throughout the world or the country that do a really good job. My big thing was I’m not a tech guy but I wanted to be the first, one of the first guys to use technology and merge that with player development. That meaning analytics, the video, and I keep saying the same thing, but just identifying those trends because I feel like me as an adult at 33 or young kids, they’re visual learners as hockey players. So if we could show them what it looks like to kind of show the light at the end of the tunnel and then build that up with skills and a progressional plan, then you’re making players better.”
Through Total Package Hockey, Naurato and his staff have worked with many other NHL players, including Luke Glendening, Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, former Wing Patrick Eaves, Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck and Columbus’ Zach Werenski.
They also work with players at all levels.
Defenseman Alec Regula, just drafted by the Wings last month in the third round, 67th overall, was with the OHL’s London Knights when he worked with Total Package Hockey.
“I started as an employee five years ago and I became an owner about a year and a half ago,” Naurato said. “Really what it was was just using my relationships from Catholic Central to Michigan to just kind of growing up in the area and just kind of reaching out to people and just slowly providing value and trying to do a good job and it just kind of grew from there. It’s pretty cool what we’ve built with the TPH thing where it’s kind of like that family atmosphere where guys have been through it for two, three, four years now. So they get the lingo. I always say it’s not that we’re reinventing the wheel, but we have a certain type of environment that we create or use a certain type of verbiage or lingo, now these kids understand it. Hopefully the cool thing is not only will they become better hockey players but better students of the game and hopefully maybe better coaches, whether that’s at the youth level or the NHL level when they’re done playing later on in life.”
In addition to working with Larkin, Naurato said he already has a few projects underway with a few other Wings and expects to be in Traverse City for training camp in September.
“Then I think I’m going to spend a lot of time in Grand Rapids and communicating with Ben Simon,” Naurato said. “Then obviously, supporting Cleary and Horcoff with some guys down in Grand Rapids to hopefully make sure that I can help them or be a part of the process to get them into the Detroit system and then when they do get here, they’ll have success as quickly as possible. I’m the new guy that, I believe in what I do and I’m confident in what I do because I’ve put the work in, but very humble to be working with the Red Wings and excited to learn and excited to earn my stripes and just be a support valve for the coaching staff, I would assume minor (league) right now, be a support valve for player development, be a support valve for guys like (video coach) Adam Nightingale, learn from him and ask questions.”
As a Michigan native, Naurato is enjoying the opportunity to work with his hometown team on what be believes to be cutting-edge development.
“I don’t think every NHL team is doing what we’re doing,” Naurato said. “I don’t think many colleges or junior teams are going this route and I think it’s going to, with technology now, it’s going to come quicker with this whole player development thing. But I think the Red Wings are in front of it. That doesn’t mean me, I think I’m a piece of the puzzle. I think Dan Cleary and Jeff Blashill and Shawn Horcoff and Draper, they think a different way and I think they’re trying to do this across the board.
“I’m just excited to be a part of it and hopefully do a good job and have an impact.”
Total Package Hockey is proud to announce that TPH partner and director of hockey Brandon Naurato has been named one of the Top 40 Under 40 in hockey by The Athletic.
Naurato founded the Detroit branch of TPH in 2012, spearheading the creation of Michigan Hockey Advancement, the summer 8 Week Progression Program and the Center of Excellence hockey academy.
This past summer, the Livonia, Mich., native and University of Michigan alum was hired by his hometown Detroit Red Wings as a player development consultant.
“This is an incredible honor for Nar when you look at the list of people, and he has certainly earned this recognition,” said TPH CEO Nathan Bowen. “He is a great example to all the players he works with – regardless of what level – of what hard work can generate. Effort and a relentless desire to improve daily creates opportunity, and there is no doubt in our mind at TPH that we will continue to see Brandon climb.
“He has a mind for the game that is elite. He has a gift, but not one that has been given to him, rather one that he has worked for and earned. He puts the time into the game, studying video, forming thoughts and ideas, and what is truly revolutionary is how he has figured out how to train players with what he has coined “relevant skills” which translates into greater probabilities of success in today’s game. I have witnessed it first hand, his ability to create and generate offense through skill development that feeds into team systems directly to produce greater rates of success.”
The Athletic article featuring Naurato can be seen here (it is behind a paywall). Writer Craig Custance says that Naurato, listed at No. 35, is “the perfect mix of video, analytics and former player who is experienced enough to navigate effectively in all three worlds.”
Naurato has played a significant role in the ever-growing number of #TPHTrained players reaching the highest levels of hockey. As director of hockey, he has overseen the training of an incredible amount of hockey players.
Total Package Hockey total numbers:
- 54 Signed or Drafted NHL Players
- 189 NCAA Division 1 Commitments
- 91 NCAA Division 3 Commitments
- 99 OHL Draft Picks
- 150 USHL Draft Picks, 32 Tenders
- 61 NAHL Draft Picks, 111 Tenders
- 47 Players Competing For International Teams (NTDP, Hlinka-Gretzky, Junior Olympics, Etc.)
Naurato worked with the likes of Zach Werenski of the Columbus Blue Jackets, JT Compher of the Colorado Avalanche, Andrew Copp of the Winnipeg Jets and Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens, and now he plays an active role in assisting both the Detroit Red Wings and Grand Rapids Griffins.
“(Naurato is) the most knowledgable guy I have ever met in hockey,” Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski told The Athletic’s Tom Reed. “I am starting to realize that more than ever.”
Stories about Naurato:
“What Brandon Naurato has built for TPH is being implemented across the board in all of our TPH Centers of Excellence and into our overall TPH player development curriculum for all of our #TPHTrained players,” Bowen said. “We are thankful to be able to share his knowledge and his passion with all of the players who come through TPH programs.”
About Total Package Hockey: Founded in 2001, it is TPH’s vision to become the world leader in positively impacting the lives of student-athletes through the game of hockey. Through academics, mentorship and athletics, TPH prides itself on operating at a standard that exceeds expectations of student-athletes, families, coaches, advisors and all other entities of the hockey world. With platforms that include association management, elite prospects programs, tournaments and showcases, camps and clinics and its hallmark Center of Excellence academy model, Total Package Hockey has assisted in the academic, athletic and hockey development of over 600 players who have advanced to junior, collegiate and professional hockey. Since inception, 45 #TPHTrained student-athletes have been selected in the NHL Draft, while 280 have committed to the NCAA level – 189 of which are Division I. In addition, 99 players have been selected in the OHL Priority Selection and 353 have signed tenders or been drafted in the USHL and NAHL. While TPH is proud of its student-athletes who have achieved success on-the ice, it is the process of developing young men and women as people, first and foremost, that our world-class team of coaches and mentors take the most amount of pride in. While it is our responsibility to prepare each individual for success on the ice, it is our mission to prepare each and every individual for success in the ultimate game – the game of life! To learn more about TPH, visit www.totalpackagehockey.com.