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Confessions Of A Junior Hockey Coach – Recognizing Opportunity

What is opportunity?  The dictionary describes it thus;

  1. A favorable or advantageous circumstance or combination of circumstances.

  2. A chance for progress or advancement, as in a career.

The definition is a simple and clear one is it not?  Easy enough for all to understand yes?  But not so easy for many player and parent to see when it is presented to them.

Opportunity usually come with some change too.  Change in team, change in coach, change in team mate, change in the place you live for the season.

Change in itself is almost always uncomfortable in some way or another even when the change is for the better.  I change my car a few week ago, and the new payment is uncomfortable for sure.  My friend change coaching job and have to move, and the change is uncomfortable because of so many thing to do to accommodate the change.  Player change team all the time, moving up, moving down, or moving to new team at the same level, and there is always some discomfort that come along with that.

Opportunity, change, and discomfort go hand in hand.  Especially in the game of hockey.  If you are not prepared or are unwilling to accept those thing then you are likely going to miss out on the most important thing that can be brought on by opportunity.  Growth.

When player do not recognize opportunity when it is their face it is usually because they have an over inflated sense of worth, or they are fearful of change and discomfort.

If you are working at the bank as a teller and you are offered a job as a manager at another bank or you can interview for a vice president position you may not be offered and have to decide on the spot which you will take what will you do?  Most smart people take the sure thing and take the manager job.  They look to build on the manager experience and then maybe look for vice president position down the road.  This is the smart analytical way to make the decision.

So I ask you player and parent why do you not take the same approach to picking the team?

If a team in the OJHL, or Maritime league offer you a roster spot, why would you pass it up for the tryout in the BCHL or NAHL?  It is equal to passing up the paycheck right away for a chance at a paycheck that MIGHT be a little more in the future.

This same scenario can be used with any Canada Junior A league and the NAHL.  It can be used for NAHL compared to USHL as well.

It is very hard for me to watch the player this time of year who spend all summer chasing a “maybe” instead of taking the “sure thing”.  Too many time this player is left behind with nothing and forced to play beneath his true ability because he could not recognize opportunity and accept the change and discomfort that was offered to him.

The strange thing about opportunity is that once it is embraced, and you accept the change and discomfort, you always get over that change and discomfort.  It becomes a forgotten thing and you move on to play the game you love.

It is right about now, where many players are scrambling to find a team at the last minute for next year.  It is right about now that every team is putting together their final roster for the start of the season.  Have you taken advantage of opportunity or have you let it slip through your finger?

Do you have an inflated value of yourself, or are you simply afraid?

Another word that need to be in this discussion is “regret”.

The most depressing thing to see in life is the person who years later finally admits to himself that he was fearful, or had an over inflated value of himself that caused him to miss opportunity.  You do not want to be that person, it is sad to see and it haunts some people forever.

Recognize opportunity, accept the discomfort, and embrace the change.  You will become a better player for it, and more important a more mature person.


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