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Daily Dish: Respect Your Elders - Junior Hockey News

Published: Monday, 8 Feb 2021  
By: Stephen Heisler,

“What do you know, you are over 50”, a young man once told me after a frank conversation regarding his lack of commitment. “Son, it’s not what you think you can do, it’s about what work you are willing to do to get the job done.”

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Quarterback Tom Brady has always put in the work, in the film room, weight room, on the field, and even at the dinner table.  Ten Super Bowls (including seven wins and five MVP awards) in a twenty-year career with really no end in sight. Can the kid from California keep going until he is 50?

Brady is never going to be out worked. When he does decide to turn in his helmet and cleats for a clipboard and whistle, I’m confident he will be able to lead from the sideline with the same high degree of success. 

Brady’s work ethic also transitioned into his personal life. What sixth-round draft choice really gets a shot at supermodels anyway?  Let me be clear, I’m all-in for South American models and figured if Tom could get one, why shouldn’t I try? 

I’m pretty sure it did not take Tom a month to get a kiss from his supermodel. That is exactly how long it took Deysi to finally kiss me. That happened in the middle of the afternoon just after we finished making lunch. Something was said and I just went for it. There is only one way to stay out of the friends’ zone. 

It took work before the kiss, before the civil wedding, and for the last five years. There is nothing about success that comes without a degree of hard work. Let us say that again in a different way. If Deysi (or Tom’s Gisele) made it too easy, would she have been appreciated so much?

Success is that much sweeter when it has been earned.

There is a ton of former players that were unwilling to put in the work it takes to even get to the junior level of ice hockey. They were good enough, and for the next 40 years they will tell us all that. It was not always a lack of ability, or even a lack of money, that ended the dream.  More often than not, it was simply a lack of sacrifice and heart. Most players that do rise to the junior levels were able to see beyond the lights of high school stardom with hopes of achieving much more. It takes courage to go from king of the school to third line grinder on a junior team.

Like any junior hockey career, one can only hope to be rewarded for a job well done. Those rewards are not easy to come by and that is what makes them so special. Inspiration for that achievement must come from within.  

Don’t get caught up in the tender and draft process. All that does is deliver a false sense of accomplishment and limits opportunities.

Brady was a sixth-round (pick 199) draft pick. He used that perceived slight as motivation to achieve more and more.  Six quarterbacks were picked ahead of Tom Brady… six. Brady knows all their names and details about each of their career. The most important number in Tom’s head is those 198 players were picked before him. That number helps fuel his drive to work harder, regardless of the successes. 

Brady never quits, not the day after that draft twenty-one years ago or on Sunday. Most of the football experts were predicting last night’s Super Bowl would be the coronation for Kansas City Chiefs gunslinger Patrick Mahomes. Not so fast young man, old Tom still has a firm grasp on the torch and is in no hurry to pass it to anyone. 

Right now there are a lot of college hockey players nervous about losing their stall to one of the top 100 incoming freshmen this fall. Maybe instead of getting nervous, those players should be getting busy. There are also many players in this season’s pay-to-play leagues that are concerned about opportunities for next year. Now is not the time to be concerned, now is the time to get busy.

One of our young men was finding himself out of favor with his NA3HL coach over the last few weeks. “He’s playing around with the puck too much after I’ve told him I want the dang thing moved up the ice quickly,” the coach complained. This is the same conversation we had a month ago, so our discussion came with a higher level of frankness. “Is he the coach?”  The player responded yes. “Then it’s time to realize that he controls the ice time so maybe it is a good idea to do exactly what he wants you to do,” I told him. It’s amazing, the young man listened to the old guy and got a ton of minutes as a result.

Boys, never be too good, too smart, or too arrogant to listen to those that came before you. Get a good grasp of the game’s history before attempting to re-write it. And above all, stay humble and kind, because in the end, that is all that is really going to matter any.

There’s an old saying about the inability to teach an old dog new tricks. Maybe that is true. But so is this. Us old dogs can teach the young ones all kinds of tricks. Just ask the Kansas City Chiefs.

Author: Stephen Heisler from
Stephen Heisler has spent a lifetime in the game of hockey. Stephen is also working with individual teams, coaches, and players as a director with Victorious Hockey Company. Stephen, his wife Deysi, and four children reside in Orlando, Florida.

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