It’s easy to look back at teams that have won and see that they were winners. It’s so much harder to look at a team that hasn’t won and answer the questions “can they?” and “will they?”
I am firm believer that in individual talent being a necessary ingredient for team success. I believe great players raise everyone else’s game. However, I think that one of the things that makes great players great isn’t just their talent. It is that they need to win. For some individuals, there is an ugly question that bounces around in their heads about whether their team will or won’t win.
I think the great ones don’t have room in their head for that thought – their head is bursting with the need to win. Of course, that doesn’t mean they always win, but it means they have less errors in their individual games introduced by the doubt that comes from wondering. They always play to win, which beats the hell out of playing to win while also trying to play not to lose.
The Stanley Cup, the Memorial Cup, the World Junior Championship, The Olympics…..and the Golden Boot. That is an impressive list of hockey trophies to be sure, and their order of listing does not imply anything with respect to relative importance. Some famous gents have had the good fortune of being a part of teams that have won several of these. Scott Niedermayer comes to mind.
Having said that, Neidermayer’s name isn’t on The Golden Boot which perhaps does suggest that while those teams he was apart of were pretty good, and their victories hard fought, winning the Golden Boot is just a little beyond the others. A little harder to win. A little more unique to drink out of than some old tin cup.
This year’s winning team in the battle for the Golden Boot was the Blue Team. And I, not Niedermayer, was on that team. A team I’ll always be proud to say I was a part of. It may not have been 16 wins over 2 months. (In fact, it was only 2 wins and 1 loss between 9:00 am Saturday morning and 2:00 pm Saturday afternoon a few weekends back). It may not have been a full-contact war of attrition among finely tuned athletes. (In fact, it was just a bunch of old pluggers eating Warmington’s good eats and drinks between games). It may not have made front-page news in National Newspapers. (In fact, the only mention in the media at all was….um…well, never mind). What is was instead, was just about the finest hockey ever played.
So when Niedermayer is ready to take stock of what’s he really accomplished, and comes to realize that he came up one trophy short, he’ll always be welcome to throw his name on to the spare list for the W and see if he can work his way into a regular roster spot. If he does, and if he is lucky enough some Saturday morning in March some day in the future to win it all, then and only then will he be able to truly revel in his accomplishments. Until then, he’s just another guy who won some of the great trophies in the game, without winning perhaps the most important one of them all…The Golden Boot.
An old-school St. Anne’s hockey jacket crest from mid 70’s Peterborough Church League. The club inexplicably changed their colours to Hab’s colours sometime many years later, the brain fart of someone with a lack of imagination and disregard for tradition in my opinion. Nothing against the Habs but this purple and gold look was pretty cool.
What a wonderful year that year of Pee-Wee was. Coaches Ed and Brian made coming to the rink tons of fun. Don’t remember a ton about that year but do remember we were pretty strong all season and the finals were against Northminister, a neighbourhood rival that we took down two straight in a best of three. Hmmmm….or was that minor bantam? Gad, the years do get blurry as one gets older.