By: Topher Scott
Last week, the St. Louis Blues won their first Stanley Cup in team history. It was a throwback playoff run that I’m sure Don Cherry was proud of. It was an old school, backyard-street-hockey type win….A battle of attrition with each team that stood in their path.
But in this post, I want to talk about two things that played a huge part in their ultimate victory:
2. Laila Anderson
Let’s start with BELIEF.
In January, the Blues were the last place team in the league. If you paid even a smidge of attention to this playoffs, you heard it a hundred times. As much as it became a repetitive story, it’s still amazing.
And in watching the interviews with players since they hoisted the cup, the word most used when they spoke of their coach, Craig Berube, was belief. He got the team to believe in themselves again…no small feat when you are in last place in the entire NHL.
Belief is a funny thing…and something that is so important for an individual AND a team.
As a player, think about a time in your career when you had a coach believe in you versus a time when you had a coach that didn’t. What a world of difference it makes.
The thing that we have to remember as coaches is that our belief in a player can make all the difference in their hockey playing ability…and their mental health and well-being. That’s why I believe so whole-heartedly in playing your entire bench as a coach at the youth levels. With a little bit of belief you can change a kid’s passion for the game. And when that passion increases, their belief in themselves will soar…and they will become better players as a by-product.
For a team perspective…when you have a coach that can get you to believe in the mission and believe in each other…that’s an incredible recipe for success. Berube got the guys to believe in the mission. He got them to buy in to a style of play suited for their roster that kind of went against the grain of where hockey is going in terms of playing with speed and skill.
He got them to believe that they were an old-school group that can wear you down before they knock you out…the type of player Berube was when he played. And it was incredible to see. Especially with how resilient they were the entire playoffs. They learned the hard lessons of belief in the regular season…and it suited them well during their run. I don’t think what they did will be replicated any time soon.
Now speaking of RESILIENCE. How about Laila Anderson? Without her inspiration, the Blues don’t win the cup.
She really showed the Blues what it means to be PERSEVERE…and what it means to believe. She also showed the Blues how important perspective can be. They were fighting for their playoff lives. She is fighting for her life.
She showed them that losing a hockey game is nothing compared to the fight she faced. And with that, I believe that the Blues went out and played like they had nothing to lose. If they lost, it wasn’t the end of their world. They play a game they love. It would hurt sure, but not nearly as much as losing someone like Laila.
Watching the players swoon over her after they won was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. They love her. And I mean that sincerely. They love her, and I’m sure there’s a part of every single one of them that are happier for her than they are for themselves. To see a little warrior like that, so passionate about her team be able to hoist the cup with the men she adores…and the men who adore her…it was amazing.
There was great strategy. There was great talent.
Those are of the utmost importance if you want to win a championship. The Blues had both.
But they also had Belief and Laila Anderson. And those two put them over the top.