I’ll never forget coming home after work one day early in September three years ago.
It was a long day at school like most early days are in September.
Setting the tone can be very difficult, but it can pay great dividends down the road.
It appeared by the conversation my wife and oldest daughter was having that the tone was being set in kindergarten that day as well.
“What did you learn today at school, Grace?”, my wife asked.
“We learned that what we say and do can empty people’s buckets,” replied my daughter.
At that time I had sixteen plus years in teaching and have never heard that analogy.
“Grace, the way you are treating your sister right now, you are definitely emptying Audrey’s bucket,” my wife said sternly.
“We need to fill people’s buckets Grace,” added my wife.
I’ll never forget that conversation and analogy.
I’ll never forget all the negative and downright hurtful things that were ever said to me in school and in the world of sport.
Sure the as the years go by we learn how to suppress them, but unfortunately they always stay with us longer than needed.
That night I thought about all of my interactions with kids over the years in the classroom, on the ice and behind the bench as a coach.
Did I empty more buckets than I filled?
It’s easy to be negative.
Anyone can take a negative, hateful approach to anything, if you wanted.
Obviously, it’s human nature to dwell on the negative.
It’s what we remember the most.
Sometimes it’s inescapable.
It’s my goal as a teacher to create a safe and comfortable environment for all of my students.
I want my classroom to be sanctuary for openness, kindness, maturity, fairness and mutual respect.
I want my students to know that they can come to me to talk about anything, at anytime.
Hopefully the same can be said about a hockey team, their culture and dressing room.
Why is the hockey world so secretive?
Why is the hockey world so negative?
Why can’t all of the hockey crazed parents, coaches and players just find common ground, one based on acceptance, kindness, maturity, fairness and mutual respect?
I realize hockey is big business and that everyone wants their share of the market, but honestly come on.
The lying, the broken promises, the politics, the infighting, hockey parents, so called experts on the boards and the elitism.
The competitive nature of the game on the ice is one thing, but the competitive nature of our beloved game has a foundation built on negativity.
The hockey world has a history of emptying buckets. Hell, some people just call it the business side.
Some people call it being brutally honest or the harsh reality, while some people just hide behind the business side of the game.
I understand everyone isn’t cut out for the NHL, that’s not what this is about.
This is about the brutal negativity surrounding the game today, it’s downright ruthless.
Some would say the off season training regimes and programs only add to fuel to fire of negativity, with winter teams being chosen based on what summer programs certain players attended, and we wonder why the game is struggling.
We are losing great players, we are losing great coaches, we are losing great officials, but most of all we are losing great people and at the end of the day the game of hockey loses the most.
A fundamental principle that every kid from this generation are learning in kindergarten isn’t being applied in the hockey world or perhaps across the board within any sport for that matter.
I guess it’s easier to empty the bucket, than to fill it up. We need that to change. We need a lot of things to change within our great game.
Perhaps we can start by filling up one bucket at a time, perhaps the hockey world needs a bucket brigade of positivity.