Per­spec­tive an im­por­tant fac­tor in mi­nor hockey

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer

I’m sur­prised this year’s theme for Mi­nor Hockey Week ( Jan. 11-18) has not been used be­fore.

For those not in the know, the theme this year will be “Fo­cus on the Jour­ney, Not the Desti­na­tion.”

As mi­nor hockey pro­grams are pre­par­ing to en­ter their first week of a new sea­son, it’s some­thing ev­ery par­ent and player in­volved should re­mem­ber.

Let’s come back to why it should be re­mem­bered and start with the desti­na­tion.

Of course ev­ery child who laces up a pair of skates wants to play in the Na­tional Hockey League. But, the chances of that ac­tu­ally hap­pen­ing are against you. Un­less you’re name is Sid­ney Crosby.

Play­ers want to win the Stan­ley Cup, play in a Game 7 and reg­is­ter their first NHL tally, amongst a score of other ac­com­plish­ments.

Kids dream it ev­ery day, whether the game is be­ing played at the rink, in the drive­way or down in the base­ment. Ev­ery young­ster has their favourite player that they em­body dur­ing ev­ery game.

It’s a part of grow­ing up a hockey fan. It starts in be­gin­ners, prob­a­bly be­fore­hand, and might not end un­til they reach midget. For some, it ends be­fore midget.

Then hockey be­comes a game of fun and not the means to an end. The dream changes at that point. The dream be­comes less about mak­ing the pro­fes­sional ranks. Maybe it be­comes us­ing hockey skills to get a bet­ter ed­u­ca­tion, or maybe it be­comes about us­ing the life skills taught through hockey to push your­self fur­ther in life. It’s not al­ways about the pros. Let’s face it, there are some steep odds to over­come to make “the show.” On this side of pond, there are some 2,000 plus pro­fes­sional hockey jobs avail­able to play­ers.

Over­seas, there may be slightly more. There be a lot more, for that mat­ter, I’m not sure.

Re­gard­less, that sounds like a lot doesn’t it?

Hold up. In this coun­try alone, there are al­most half-a-mil­lion play­ers in mi­nor hockey (2012 num­bers).

Now don’t get me wrong. A child has to have dreams, that’s not what I’m say­ing.

If dream­ing of play­ing at the Air Canada Cen­tre in Toronto, or at the Bell Cen­tre in Mon­treal is the dream, then, by all means, go for it. Pur­sue it and work for it. But, you can’t for­get the jour­ney that takes you there. You can’t for­get what you learn along the way.

This is what I think the point be­hind the mes­sage is. Mi­nor hockey is not just about the NHL. It is not just about sac­ri­fic­ing ev­ery­thing to reach the high­est plateau. It never should be.

Mi­nor hockey is about learn­ing a game you can play un­til you can’t skate any­more. It’s about hav­ing fun and learn­ing life skills that can only help you away from the rink.

Play­ers learn to be a part of a team, they learn to re­spect peo­ple older than them and they make friends that will stay with them for the du­ra­tion of their life­times.

I think some par­ents, and by ex­ten­sion, play­ers, have for­got­ten that.

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