An Ode to Playoff Hockey & What This Season Has Taught Me

We are now in the thick of playoff hockey and are gearing up to see who will represent the East and the West Conference in the Stanley Cup final. As a seasoned hockey fan, I thought I’d seen it all. Well this year proved me wrong. No, it really has. So today I want to share some lessons I’ve learned from them:

1.NEVER count yourself out, no matter what. This year was the first time in play-off history where each series in the first round was an upset. Going into post-season, the fearsome foes were: the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Calgary Flames. The Lightning made history this year when they clinched the earliest ever play-off spot, and the Flames had their best-ever season since winning their Stanley Cup. With the odds stacked in their favor, their eighth seed opponents weren’t going down without a fight. Spoiler alert- the Lightning didn’t win a single game, and the Flames won one.

2.When you are down in the dumps, CHANGE YOUR ATTITUDE. No, I mean it. Change it. If that means you and your team create a new rally cry in the form of a pop hit from the 80’s- just do it. The St. Louis Blues were ranked dead last as late of January 2019. One weekend some of the Blues players went out to watch football at a local watering hole, and a patron kept asking the DJ to play, “Gloria,” by Laura Branigan during commercial breaks. Finding the song very catchy, the players embraced the novelty of it, took it back to the locker room, and made it their “winning anthem.” Since then, they haven’t stopped winning.

3. DON’T STOP working towards your goals, regardless of your age. 20-year old Cale Makar got the call the morning of Game 3, in the first-round of playoffs, to make his NHL debut. Rather than letting the pressure buckle him, he scored his first NHL goal that evening with his parents watching in the stands. Conversely, there is 39-year old Joe Thorton with the San Jose Sharks. Drafted in 1997 and playing for 21 years, he has NEVER won the cup. And for those wondering, he isn’t just a player who has skated by. He is presently ranked in fourteenth place of all-time points, with the one and only, Wayne Gretzky at the top.

4. If a notable member of your industry calls you a,“bunch of jerks,” PROVE THEM WRONG. Don Cherry called the Carolina Hurricanes a bunch of jerks earlier this season due to their over-the-top celebration antics. “You don’t do this thing in professional hockey. What are these guys? Jerks or something?” said Cherry. Hurricanes took this as the fuel to further ignite their fire and made it their playoff slogan.

5. And if all else fails, animal snuggles solve all problems. Even if that is in the form of a potbelly pig, or a golden lab puppy, their snuggles are the best.

>Robyn, @rabalaba_