Do you want to play hockey or do you want to be a hockey player?
A question that will separate the men from the boys and the pros from the ‘Joes’. Too many times when that question is asked, people aren’t able to give a straight or honest answer, or they answer the question to make sure that they give the answer they think is right for the team and not to them selves. If I sat in a changing room with my team, I could possibly point out which guys are there to play hockey and those that are hockey players. Sure, over 90% of the guys would say they were hockey players, but the statement wouldn’t be true to themselves, nor would it model their approach to hockey.
Do I want to be a hockey player or do I want to play hockey?
I can categorically say that I want to be a hockey player. I am willing to do everything that is required of a player on and off the ice. Whether it is sweating it out at the gym four times a week and then do the required on ice training. I have set myself goals that I am working to achieve and I have began using a variety of new techniques to perfect my game. I have found routine and things that make me comfortable. I can go into the corners knowing that I am strong on my feet and I will come out with the puck and still be able to hustle for it and get it on the net.
Hockey is about being confident with yourself. My mantra has been adopted from CCM (as sad as it sounds) when they first brought out their Vector range. I think it personified my identity as a hockey player really well. Now however, that mantra still being my backbone I am expanding my horizons to different elements of being out there.
If you asked what type of player I am from any of my team mates both past and present, I think adjectives like competitive, contentious, hard working, dedicated, loyal, trust worthy might come up. Those are the qualities that I model my self around.
I have recently also been reading a book and one of the exercises in the book was to discover your identity and who you aspire to be. Where it would be easy to listen to the sound of names drop, I can’t say that it would be my own identity. It would be the identity of the pros and wouldn’t truly reflect on my own commitments and how I want to be perceived on the ice. My identity, I suppose to a greater extent is expressed by my tattoo I have on my left deltoid. I have the Finnish coat of arms (or the Lion) which I suppose personifies my fighter’s spirit and the ‘Man can go through the grey stone’ attitude and Sisu I spoke of before in this blog. A lion is the king of the jungle, an elegant, fast and a smart animal that will ferociously defend its own and its territory. I feel that this personifies me really well and it is my identity and what I bring out in me every game, training and the gym.
I’ve often said that the stuff that goes on the ice is the easiest part of hockey for me. If you truly want to be successful and achieve greatness in the sport, you need to be willing to make sacrifices in your own time off the ice. Specially at this level where you are paying to play and invest a great deal of your time to the game. Those of us that take things seriously enough are willing to sacrifice time after work for runs, work outs and other activities that help us with our hockey skills will be the ones better off. Those are the guys who want to be hockey players. The ones who say that they are, but don’t quite fit into the description are not doing themselves any favours and only have a negative impact on the team by their lacklustre lip service words.
These guys want to be hockey players, but lack the willingness to take advice on board and the drive to do the extra bits that are required from each member of the team during the season. After all it is all about winning and not about taking part