For over forty plus years, I have observed the trials and tribulations of youth, aspiring to reach the NHL, with many failing, and few succeeding.
I have seen the incredible sacrifices of families; committing countless hours and finance to their son or daughter's dream. I have seen players quit from frustration or emotional pain. They put their skates away in storage for many years before they find the courage to venture back. There have been devastating injuries that have ended careers and left players wondering what could have been. There have been stories of courage where the passion to play has overcome all odds.
There are many reasons why players succeed or fail in their quest. Poor skills' habits, parent intervention, improper coaching, freak injuries, and the intangibles, to name but a few. While an elite skill may determine who makes the NHL and who doesn't, that elite skill is the product of something deeper. The acquisition of elite skill requires deep desire and a determined attitude to excel.
One could say that they are the underlying belief system that carries us forward each day. They speak of honour, integrity, pride, respect, discipline or just simply, one's attitude. They are not a given in our life. They have to be taught and reinforced along our journey by those that are assigned as our mentors and guides, some through direct contact and others observationally. These could be our parents, coaches, teachers, bosses or even our friends or idols.
I had been taught many such principles in my life and while I have struggled with some, I have embraced others more readily. Such is the conflict in our life's journey. It is a road, paved with good intentions and along the journey we learn the easy way and, at times, the hard way hits us upside the head, knocks us down and forces us to change. My mother and father were great administrators of these lessons as were others I encountered along my own road. It was through these lessons that allowed me to appreciate those values in others.
In the world of hockey, there is a kind of unwritten code of conduct. It is what is expected of you every day, when you show up to the rink to practice or play. It is how you treat your teammates and how your treat your fans. It is how your respond to new ideas and concepts. It is how you approach training, your commitment to excellence, and your willingness to compete. It is all about your core values.
What I endeavour to provide in this book are stories of hope, some lessons on life, and stories of successes on the journey from the amateurs and elite professionals that have enriched my life through their experiences and through their journey, their stories have the potential to enlighten others on their path, wherever that may lead.
Ron Johnson BSc. MSc.