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Mike Fisher

The art and science of hockey bench management

The art and science of hockey bench management

It is a ballet. And a kind of speed chess.

It has a basic pattern. But it also has improvisation, created by the coaches' tactical decisions.

It has straightforward movement and seemingly chaotic swirl. Bodies leap over boards or race in and out of open doors to get on and off the ice.

A player missing his cue in this pas de cinq might cause his team to be punished. A coach who sends a mismatched performer into this fiendishly intricate, fast-paced dance might face checkmate.

In hockey, the choreography is called bench management.

It involves forward line and defensive personnel changes, composition of playing units and matchup strategies designed to...