As fans, we all know how the excitement of an upcoming season feels. The anticipation of a successful season is potent in hockey cities everywhere.
But imagine how the players feel right now…knowing we all have high hopes and expectations for them, and knowing that their very livelihood could depend on how well they play this season.
For the sake of this article, I’m going to embody a Columbus Blue Jackets player.
I’ve had all summer to think about how close we came as a team to making the playoffs, and how great it felt to at least be in the conversation. But next year has to be different. I, and my team even more, want true success. I want a playoff run. I want to put this team and city on the NHL map.
I’ve been training all summer for this new season, doing every little thing I can to get an edge on my competition. Adding an extra mile to each week of running, adding 5 pounds to each set of reps in the gym. Everything counts when you have a goal.
I know my teammates have worked just as hard as I. They know the same bitter feeling of having a playoff berth torn away from you after you play your heart out in the last game. They want it just as bad as I do. For myself, for my team, for my fans, I train that much harder.
Besides the desire to succeed, the need to succeed also exists. This sport is my livelihood, my family’s livelihood. If my play suffers, I may lose my position in this league and spend my days worrying about if I will get the chance to get the chance to get the chance to play for the Stanley Cup. Hockey has become my life, and this thought simply adds more to my desire to succeed.
Mentally, I am preparing myself for the stress of long road trips, trade deadlines, and constant wear on my body and mind. It’s not easy to play hockey, let alone in the NHL. You must be just as strong psychologically as you are physiologically.
I recall past periods in which I questioned myself and my true dedication to this sport. But I also remember what I’ve told myself in the past. I didn’t stick with this game so long to give up now. I need to push myself to constantly be better, while keeping in mind that I cannot be perfect. No one is.
Mostly, what I am thinking about is doing better than before. That’s always the goal. Do better than you ever have. If you always do one better than you did the last, you will always be getting better, and that’s all you can do.
Last year we were close to the playoffs, so logically, one better would be making the playoffs. That is my goal. Make the playoffs. For myself, for my team, for the fans, for my family, for everyone that has believed in me to this point.
In my mind’s eye, this is what is going through any given Blue Jacket’s mind this month. At least, I hope so. What do you think? Comment, Tweet, Post on Facebook, etc. I love feedback.