Preface to The Other Side
I take a lot of pride in showcasing hockey players journey’s in the game.
Actually I’ve been made fun of or criticized quite a bit for using the term “journey” in my writing and broadcast career so far.
What the hell am I supposed to call it?
I had a journey in the game, I certainly didn’t have a career or play junior hockey.
Sure I played highly competitive provincial hockey, so I get the grind.
I was never a highly touted prospect, I had to work my ass off for everything, so when I use the term journey I understand what that means and the sacrifice it takes to play the game at a high level.
To be brutally honest I cringe at people that yell, scream or quietly criticize players at the junior level.
It f&$king annoys the hell out of me.
You see there’s always the other side.
Maybe I don’t write about it all the time, but you can bet your ass I know about it and feel the players and their families pain when things don’t go as planned.
A colleague of mine at school, gave me a book in mid June.
We talk hockey a lot, him and I don’t always see eye to eye on the game and that’s perfectly fine, I respect him a lot.
The book he gave me was “Selling the Dream” by Ken Campbell.
I haven’t cracked it yet.
To be honest, I’m scared to.
I love to showcase players, their families and all the sacrifices it has taken them to get them to this point of their career, but am I selling the dream?
Am I too positive?
Am I too positive in my projections in the game?
Am I painting an unrealistic picture?
I’ve written a lot of feel good stories over the years and I’ve written some dark pieces about the game, but am I still selling an unattainable dream?
I’ve always been a very reflective person.
I don’t take things for granted or take things lightly.
A matter of fact one of mine nicknames in high school was “Old Man Eagles” because I didn’t drink or party, I didn’t take any risks.
I guess I was too mature back then, or the odd one out. I guess doing stupid shit didn’t appeal to me.
I’ve learned a lot about myself and others through my path in the game and the roles that I have within it.
It’s an honour to write, broadcast and scout.
I absolutely love it, it’s a dream come true, but I’ve taken an optimistic approach to every aspect of the game that I’m involved with. If that makes me a salesman, so be it.
You see my longtime friend and colleague wanted me to see the other side and that’s perfectly fine.
In my opinion there’s a big difference between salesman, honest scout, analyst and writer.
Perhaps I do need to write more articles about the other side of the game, or the players that don’t have the success or underachieve?
Maybe I should kick a player and his/her family when their down?
That’s the type of negativity that sells right, tons of pageviews, retweets and controversy.
That’s what everyone wants nowadays right?
Well, f$&k that.
I’ll never go down that route as a writer, broadcaster or scout.
I feel compelled to tell the stories from the other side of the game the right way, not with a negative slant.
I’m not selling the dream, I’m telling a story and every player and their families have one.
Sure is my stuff positive, of course it is.
I realize it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
I’m not blowing smoke up people’s arses, I’m telling stories, stories that might never be told.
Perception is one aspect of all of this that I can’t control, no writer, analyst or journalist can.
There’s one story that I haven’t shared from this past season, one that I couldn’t bring myself to write, until now.
The Other Side
I was talking to a player agent just down from the visitors dressing room and started to walk pass the visitors bus when I heard someone say hello.
“Hey Craig, how are you.”
I didn’t even recognize the player at first to be honest I had totally forgot that he didn’t suit up that game.
“Hey man, it’s great to see you, everything ok, you banged up or something,?” I asked.
I’ll never forget the look that came over the young players face.
“I’ve got a lot of work to do on my game Craig,” they said.
In that moment I was devastated for that player.
I know how hard he worked.
I know how confident he was coming out of Midget hockey.
I scouted him, I know what type of player he can be.
For the next couple of minutes, I tried to cheer the kid up, but what can you tell a player that was that low, that dejected.
As I walked away my heart sank for that young player.
He didn’t shit on the organization or the coaching staff, he was honest with me and honest with himself.
I will never forget that four or five minute conversation.
That’s the other side of the game.
The other side that no one ever sees.
The other side of the journey that people don’t appreciate.
They see the player’s number on the line up sheet or hear the announcement over the PA that they are scratched, but they don’t know why.
They don’t understand the grind. They don’t understand the “journey”.
For them it’s all about the numbers, projections and high expectations.
They don’t understand the pressure and stress.
They will never know the other side of the game.
Sure I may showcase the game and players on a positive side, but I certainly don’t kick them when they are down.
Adversity builds character, if you knew anything about their “journey’s” you would appreciate and accept that.
I’m not selling anything, I’m trying to be positive.
Realistic, honest and positive about players stories.
The other side of the game sometimes needs to be told, but in the right way.
As for the book my colleague gave me, I’ll start it very soon.