How many of you watched Wednesday night's amazing night of baseball? I was more captivated by the incredible story of the Tampa Bay Rays than anything. Before we are done here, I promise that hockey is going to come into play.
The Rays were way behind the big dollar Red Sox on September 1st, with all but zero hope of making a run at this year's baseball play-offs. Heck, most experts had written the Rays off in the spring after the big money teams came in and bought a number of the Rays top players. These guys don't have a chance.
Everybody believed that this season would be a lost cause and on September 1st, they were all almost right. Then it happened. Rays players are saying that they never lost faith, that their hard work and determination would pay off for the team. Payoff it did.
The Rays did everything right in Septemner, all the way up to Wednesday night's game, than everything went wrong, for the first eight innings anyway. Than it happened again, down 7-0 to the first place New York Yankees, the Rays stormed back to stun the Yanks, Boston, and just about all of baseball.
How does this relate to junior hockey? The most incredible part of sports is the ability of pure teams to be able to overcome overwhelming talent. Junior hockey is supposed to be about developing young men into college or professional hockey players. A part of the development is for each player to have the ability to buy into that team effort, to give everything in order to accomplish the goal of the group.
Success is the perfect reward for incredible determination and hard work. We often hear coaches say that their team lost because the other team wanted it more, and that statement is true. Junior coaches like to hang their hat on winning percentages, college placements, and longevity. I want to see the coach that is able to sell the dream, follow through on his promises, get the most from his team, and raise the hardware. This is the guy that is able to provide the motivation, leadership, and is able to install the determination it takes to succeed.
They say that good coaches can coach in any sport. If that is the case, I wonder what kind of coach Joe Maddon would be for a junior hockey team. Anybody that can will a team out of the doghouse like Maddon can, is not going to crumble in the final month of the season, is not going to serve up a dog pile of crappy effort in the play-offs, and is going to go into every game with a chance to win. Somebody give Maddon a whistle.
What do you think?