Shoot the Puck
By Peter L DeHaan
only been a few years that I have been following the sport of hockey.
Before that, a myriad of other athletic diversions captured my
attention. As a
youngster, I did what many of my peers did and played Little League
baseball. Not that I was
good at it or particularly enjoyed it.
In fact, after four years of mostly sitting on the bench or
chasing an occasional stray ball in right field, I realized that I
wasn’t having much fun. I
was merely playing the game because I assumed that was what a kid was
supposed to do. My
attempts to play baseball did, however, lead to watching the big
leagues on TV. In fifth
grade, my teacher, a fanatic fan of the Detroit Tigers, planned our
school day around the playoff schedule so that she – I mean “we”
– could listen to the games during study time.
The Tigers won the series and I was won over, becoming a
devotee. I faithfully
followed the Tigers until their next World Series in 1984.
thereafter, I moved to Wisconsin.
It was hard to be a Tiger fan in Wisconsin; in fact, in was
hard to be a baseball fan in the shadow of the state’s
beloved Green Bay Packers. In
a place where being a “cheese head” is a compliment (note to the
uninformed: “cheese head” is the proudly self-proclaimed moniker
of the die-hard Packer fanatic) I soon adopted the Packers as “my”
team. Although my tenure
in the dairy state was short-lived, I continued to be a loyal Packer
backer after returning to Michigan.
it was hard for me to get back into baseball.
The player strikes, lockouts, excessive hype, and salary
escalations distanced me from the game and left me increasingly
with baseball, I segued to basketball.
Although I closely followed the college tournament during March
Madness, it was not the defensive prowess of college hoops to which I
was endeared, but the faster-paced, higher-scoring professional games.
But then, as the showmanship became excessive, I began to seek
these meanderings as an athletic couch potato, hockey was a sport that
I viewed as anomalous. I
treated it with disdain. It
seemed to me that the only activity was skating back and forth, with
few scoring opportunities and even fewer goals.
I just didn’t get it.
my son, Dan, began following hockey, I didn’t immediately share in
his interest and enthusiasm. To
my dismay, he one day asked me to watch the game with him.
Inwardly I groaned, but outwardly I agreed, because that’s
what parents do for their kids. He
made popcorn (okay, so maybe it wasn’t going to be so bad after all)
and we plopped down in front of the tube.
I watched the play move back and forth, right to left and then
left to right. Soon the
popcorn was gone, but the players kept up their incomprehensible dance
with the puck. My eyes
grew weary as one more journey up the ice began.
Suddenly, Dan became excited.
He jumped to his feet and exclaimed, “Watch this!” as the
puck was guided past the blue line.
To me it looked like the same play I had already seen a hundred
times during that game. “They’re
going to score!” he gleefully and confidently predicted.
The announcers, too, amplified the tone of their play-by-play
as they sensed that something important was about to happen.
Play proceeded across the red line, then a pass and a slap
shot, followed by total bedlam and an energetic high-five from my son.
On the second replay, I, too, saw the puck go in the net.
stared at my son in disbelief. “How
did you know?” I
stammered in amazement. “Come
on, Dad, you could tell it was going to happen as soon as he got the
puck,” Dan replied with incredulity.
Obviously, there was more to this game than I could see.
I began asking questions and for the first time in our
relationship, our roles reversed and my son became the teacher.
I was astonished with how much he knew and the subtleties he
comprehended. Under his
tutelage, my understanding of the sport grew and with it, my interest
and appreciation followed. Over
time, I learned about a one-timer, the five hole, power plays, a
two-pad slide, and the poke check.
watching the Red Wings become one of our favorite father-son
activities. During one
game, we watched an uncharacteristically unproductive power play wind
down. “Shoot the
puck,” I earnestly implored the Detroit offense.
“They didn’t have any good scoring opportunities,” Dan
responded with matter-of-fact calmness.
they can’t score if they don’t shoot the puck,” I retorted.
Dan paused and gave me a quick glance, followed by a brief look
of comprehension before his attention was recaptured by the game.
Perhaps I had blurted something profound.
After all, it did make sense that if you don’t take a shot,
you can’t score.
whether the sport is hockey, baseball, football, or basketball,
playing it safe isn’t going to win too many games and is certainly
not what championship teams are made of.
How many times have you watched a team build a commanding lead,
only to lose the game as a result of becoming tentative and mechanical
as they tried to protect their lead rather than build upon it?
example extends to business. While
extreme, make-or-break risk-taking is generally not advisable,
tentatively protecting what you have built up will not position you to
take advantage of new opportunities that present themselves.
You could even squander what you have.
Yes, many of your shots may miss the mark, but some will be on
target. And those that
are will keep you moving forward and propel you to the next level.
same is true in life. If
you expect to coast through your time on this earth, hoping that
everything will work out, you will end up sad and disappointed.
Intentional and deliberate action is what is needed to reach
your potential and become the person you are capable of being.
I once saw a poster of a large turtle.
The caption read, “Behold the turtle; he only makes progress
when he sticks out his neck.”
it’s hockey, business, or life, you can’t score if you don’t
shoot the puck.
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