(Above Photo Credit: Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
By: Karen Still Follow Me at @bluinsfan2017
They say that experience is the best teacher–that has always seemed to be one of those timeless truths that can apply to any facet of life. And the same is true for hockey, as it has its history, values and traditions that have been passed down ever since its inception.
Despite the fact that the game itself as we know it is changing, the speed and skill preference over physical and that anyone over 30 is looked at with a hesitant and uncertain side-eye, the fact will always remain that you need a healthy balanced mix of both veterans and youth as they can all learn from one another. Nowadays it seems as a player is over 30, then they’re ‘old and slow’ and with it, their overall value. I understand that while what is taking precedence as far as what are considered assets in today’s NHL, those are physical. Developing and maintaining a mental balance, as well as maturity is also part and parcel of an NHL player, and that is something that can be taught by others, as well as by simply living.
Since there are quite a few stats-fans about, I’ll slide some their way to begin: The three of these gentlemen have combined for totals of 4,601 games played, 1,355 goals, 2,135 assists, 3,490 points, 4,289 PIMs (that’s 71.5 hours contemplating bad on-ice life choices in the sin bin). Their individual careers total an impressive 68 years (years!), as well as 29 total years serving as their respective teams’ Captains.
And I haven’t gotten to their cumulative Awards yet:
3 Stanley Cups, 2 Mark Messier, 1 Hart, 1 Bill Masterson, 3 Ted Lindsay, 5 Art Ross, 1 King Clancy, and 1 Norris.
Those numbers speak for themselves, as do the awards: these men put themselves on the line night in and night out, devoting themselves to their teams and the organizations as a whole. They have put their teammates first at the expense of themselves, which is what I’d think any Captains and Alternates worth their salt would do. The roads alone that these men traveled in the course of their careers that resulted in the achievement of those milestones is a veritable treasure trove of experiences that is irreplaceable, wealth that can be handed down by example in one way or another.
Sometimes the littlest things can have the most meaning and the most profound impact on others. Their age might work against them but to whom does that not apply? We’re all humans — we’re all going to get ‘old and slow’.
That’s why veterans are far more valuable than their skates, sticks, and stats. They are the keepers of the long-standing, timeless traditions of the league, gradually turning those torches over to the generation after them as we speak as was done with them. Tradition in hockey, as in life, survives because of those who’ve come before, doing all they can to pass them on to those just coming into the League eager to earn their spurs, and that should never be taken for granted. (Not only that but who wouldn’t want to have as much hair at 45 as Jagr does?)