Scoring the game-winning goal doesn’t necessarily make you the best player on the ice. Leading your team in goals and assists doesn’t make you the best player on your team. Having a ridiculously good save percentage doesn’t make you the number one recruit. These types of players typically get the majority of the glory because they’re constantly being recognized for their statistical contributions.
However, a player that is the best player on the ice is the one that consistently cheers their team on, the player that pushes their teammates to become better players and better people, the person with energy and enthusiasm towards the game and the player that brings unmatched intensity to each practice/game.
It’s no secret that every coach wants a goal-scoring prodigy on their team but a player that’s even more important to have, is one that has the intangibles. I want the player that pushes in their chair after team meals, the player that keeps their nose to the grindstone and doesn’t get caught up in all of the bullsh*t that can happen in the locker room, the player that goes and gives their goalie a tap on the pads after they let in a terrible goal- these are the intangibles. No matter how many goals/assists or what their save percentage is, these types of players are the ones that will create a legacy and leave the program better than it was when they got there.
Doing the little things can make a drastic difference when it comes to the recruiting process. Kids that can score goals are everywhere but kids that have the intangibles and play a large role on the ice are hard to find.
There are no statistics for the intangibles and being a person of good character doesn’t always win you games but these kids are the ones that will set the program up for success. These kids set the standards for their teammates and show the kids moving up what it means to represent your program and likely, these habits will lead into winning games.
If you’re a player that’s reading this and wondering what you can do to become a person that has these qualities, here’s a few ideas:
To put it simply and as one of my high school coaches, Coach Politoski, would say, “Don’t be a donkey.”
Imagine how good Wisconsin hockey would be if every single one of our players had the intangibles.
Imagine the success that these kids would have after high school graduation and into their adult lives if they all had the intangibles.
Imagine how different the world would be if kids were taught not to be ‘donkeys.’