The Player’s Tribune is a great website for gritty essays and an in-depth look at sports. The best part of all? The contributor’s are current and former players in their respective professional ranks. In hockey, Daniel Carcillo, Jonathan Quick, and Mike Bossy have all had stories published.
One in particular that came to mind was that of Patrick O’Sullivan’s. Most people will probably stop right here, google who O’Sullivan is and see where he spent time in the NHL. You will look at his stats, see that they are admirable and perhaps move on with your day. I urge you to continue reading.
Without ruining the article, I will say that every person involved in the hockey world can learn a valuable lesson by reading it. Players, coaches, parents, and fans alike will be able to pull some real-world information from the passage.
The moral of the story: Say Something.
This story touched me personally because I recall times that weren’t similar in nature to what O’Sullivan went through, but instead how he lost himself in the sport. Many times I found myself numb to the world and my surroundings, but the minute I stepped into the rink I felt alive.
Looking back my childhood is a blur. I have forgotten personal experiences that most would think are unforgettable, yet I recall specifics of a certain hockey moments that I will never forget. No one knew this out of fear that I may lose teammates, have fear of being called a pussy, or ruin my chances at doing the thing that I absolutely loved to do.
When I coach, I understand that life can change when you leave the rink. I understand that players may present with a smile during practice, only to see it vanish when they step into the car, get home, go to school, etc.
Hockey for Patrick O’Sullivan, myself and I am sure many others has always been a safe haven. The passion I have for the sport grew from providing me the enjoyment, care and love I needed when I felt I had nothing else. Even when teammates, opponents, and other players were complete assholes to me, I would just smile and enjoy the fact that I was playing hockey.
Remember this the next time you are at the rink. Understand that you don’t know that kids personal story. Understand that things on the outside aren’t always a direct representation of what is happening on the inside. Last but not least, remember to say something.
Click here for a link to the article. If you would like to discuss your own experiences and how hockey has helped you, feel free to leave a comment. If it is personal and would like it kept confidential, send an me an email, firstname.lastname@example.org