Behind the Game: The hard work and passion needed to be an NHL video coach

Jeremy Coupal has been with the Edmonton Oilers as video coach since 2016.

His path to the video side of coaching started in his senior year of college. His team’s starting goalie was an NHL draft pick, so Coupal — also a goalie — knew he wouldn’t be seeing much ice time between the pipes.

The coaching staff at his school made a suggestion, so Coupal could stay involved.

“They said, ‘Why don’t you try doing some video for the team on the road,’” said Coupal. “That was really the beginning of it, where I got to start to really dig in for our head coach and assistant coaches and do little very basic things, but it really was intriguing to me and I really wanted to continue.”

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He spent three seasons with the Nashville Predators, before starting with the Oilers. His main tasks include ensuring there’s video and other technology ready and working for the coaches ahead of practices, meetings and games.

It’s not a job for someone looking for a 40-hour work week. Some days can be shorter than others, but for the most part the weeks include a lot of hours.

“Honestly I don’t count because, one, I like it,” said Coupal. “Whatever time it needs to get done, because you only have one chance.

“You really wanna be as prepared as possible, so you wanna maximize your time before that game.

“You’re not gonna sit and work on this for two hours and then feel good about it,” he said. “Sometimes you might wake up the next day and think ‘Oh I need this, I need this little extra thing.’”

There are off nights when the Oilers aren’t playing, but that tends to include watching more hockey.

“Odds are there’s another team that we’re playing in the future,” said Coupal. “So I can sort of get ahead a little bit and I can pick them apart, or try to take some mental notes.”

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Good thing his wife also loves the game.

“I’m very fortunate that she’s very patient with my hockey watching,” says Coupal. “And the fun part is, because she actually has pretty good knowledge of it, I’ll take her opinion every once and a while too.”

On game nights, Coupal has to be as engaged as any player or coach on the bench. He’s watching the game on his computer, marking every faceoff and forecheck, so that in between periods the coaches can have it ready to show the players, so the team can make adjustments from what they see.

While according to Coupal, the in-game work isn’t the most important part of his job, it can certainly come with a lot of stresses. Of course, with most everything these days you’re relying on technology to work.

“We’ve been pretty fortunate to maintain our technology and being very careful with it so there isn’t anything that’s breaking, or you have a bug,” said Coupal. “Those come up sometimes, but we’re happy because that doesn’t come up very often.”

And then of course he’s relied upon for anything coaches need.

“Could be something that end of games where all of a sudden, you get asked for a certain statistic or something specific that happened in the game,” said Coupal. “So you really have to be on your toes… but at the same time it’s fun because you’re a part of it.”

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