If I've learned anything over the last five years it has been to move forward one day at a time while making the most of every single day. It's been just over four years since the doctors said the cancer was gone, that the high intensity immunotherapy treatment had done it's job. There's nothing like staring down the realities of life's expectations and possibilities knowing that any day could be the last.
Junior hockey prospects and players have a tendency to always be looking ahead, and that's not a bad thing. They should also appreciate, and make the most of, every day of their career. A lot of players get distracted from their primary goal of development, that's to be expected with young men in this age group, but they should also remember to absorb and enjoy the process.
Nobody is invincible. We all know the temptation to try and play through injuries. Pain is the body's way of telling us to stop. I know guys want to play, but mortgaging the future to play at less than 100% is simply foolish. There is not a single game at the junior level that is worth that risk.
I can't stand the concept of the healthy scratch. Forget that. Healthy scratches are not happy hockey players. If it happens every fourth game or so because of numbers, I get that. If it happens to the same player two and three games in a row, it's time to request a trade to a team that needs the help. Hey coach, it's simple, play me or trade me. Prospects are better off playing at a lower level than sitting out 50%+ of the games at a higher level.
Above all, the life of a junior hockey player should be filled with positives. Keep negativity to a minimal and try to make the most of the experience.
I may be just some old dude still living the dream of hockey, but I make it a priority to make the most of every day. You should too.
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