Getting your team inspired is arguably the most important part of being a captain and a manager.
Yes, you have to ensure your team can handle the competition, but if they don’t have any morale then their skill cannot be put to use.
To help you fire up their drive to win, use these quotes below.
Wayne Gretzky - New York Rangers - Canadian Professional Center Position
“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”
It was actually Wayne’s father Walter who came up with this quote.
But Wayne made it popular after leading the US hockey team to victory in the 1980s Olympics.
“The day I stop giving is the day I stop receiving. The day I stop learning is the day I stop growing.”
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
These two quotes are actually part of the same speech.
Gretzky’s outlook on life is often repeated in-office meetings, by life coaches, and in self-help books - and why wouldn’t they.
Gretzky explained that his coach was frustrated by his failure to shoot as a child athlete, and that's what cemented this idea in his mind.
Never taking the shot is as good as missing, so you might as well try.
“I wasn't naturally gifted in terms of size and speed; everything I did in hockey I worked for, and that's the way I'll be as a coach.”
Gretzky became a coach in 2000 after retiring from his player status, and in that time he wanted to remind everyone that opportunity and training are what made this Hall of Fame star great - not natural prowess.
If your players have passion and drive, then show them Gretzky and remind them that even he was considered average once.
Brian Burke - Pittsburgh Penguins - American-Canadian Manager
“Sometimes you do the hard work and set the table, and somebody else eats the meal.”
Burke was the manager for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2008 until 2011 and during that time the Maple Leafs were not doing well.
Toronto failed to qualify for the playoffs every year while Burke was the manager.
When Burke finally left, the Maple Leafs were able to make it to the playoffs, which is when the old manager said his iconic quote.
If you have a player that helped create an epic win, but didn’t get the recognition or wasn’t able to play due to an injury, this quote can help you explain that the win is still theirs, even if they weren’t directly involved.
Joseph Jean Arthur Béliveau - Montreal Canadiens - Canadian Professional Center Position
“Talent is a gift, but you can only succeed with hard work.”
If you have a player that solely relies on their raw talent, and doesn’t put in the hard work to improve, then use this quote by Hall of Fame player Jean Béliveau.
Raw talent can only get you so far, effort is the key to success.
Eric Lindros - Dallas Stars - Canadian Professional Center Position
“It’s not necessarily the amount of time you spend at practice that counts; it’s what you put into the practice.”
Sometimes you will have players that constantly get injured, other times you will have players with strong real-life commitment, like taking care of their ill family members.
When these players have to slow down their practice days, they can feel dejected, thinking they aren’t putting in enough effort.
But as Lindros says, it's the heart and dedication that goes into practice that makes you learn and grow. Remind these players that they are still part of the team.
Hank Aaron - Baseball Player For Milwaukee Brewers
“Failure is a part of success. There is no such thing as a bed of roses all your life. But failure will never stand in the way of success if you learn from it.”
Although Aaron wasn’t a hockey player, his statement still stands strong in the hockey community.
There will be times when your team fails, and naturally, that failure will turn into upset.
It’s in this dejected moment that we pull out Hank Aaron’s wise words and remember that failure is just a learning experience.
When you’re next at practice, aim the lessons around the issues that caused the team to fail, and help them get stronger in this area.
Once they see themselves improving, their attitude will change.
Phil Esposito - New York Rangers - Canadian Professional Center Position
“Play with passion and heart. If you don’t carry passion into sport – or into any job for that matter – you won’t succeed.”
Passion is the heart of hockey and the Hall of Fame player Phil Esposito knew that.
You cannot play a good game without having a love for the sport. Some players get too much inside their heads.
They start to double guess their moves, get too involved with their teammates' choices, and become flustered at the slightest confusion.
When players like this start to falter, you need to remind them that passion, and not back seat strategy, will help them win.
Paul Coffey - Boston Bruin - Canadian Professional Defense Position
“Nobody's a natural. You work hard to get good and then work to get better. It's hard to stay on top.”
There will always be a player that simply says “I wasn’t born with that kind of talent”.
But when they start doubting their abilities that's when you pull out the Paul Coffey quote.
Of course, there will be people who pick up on things quicker than others, but to actually be good, that person has to try hard.
No one is born knowing how to draw just like nobody's born knowing how to play hockey.
Hard work is what keeps you on top.
Gordie Howe - Detroit Vipers - Canadian Professional Right-Wing Position
“You find that you have peace of mind and can enjoy yourself, get more sleep, and rest when you know that it was a one hundred percent effort that you gave – win or lose.”
When you need that extra something to push your players into giving everything they’ve got, quote Gordie Howe.
The legend hit the nail on the head when he said that putting 100% into the game will make you rest easily.
You cannot get upset with your efforts when you know you did all you could. And if you won but didn’t put in 100%, you wouldn’t feel like the game was worth it.
Herb Brooks - Pittsburgh Penguins - American Coach
“This is your moment. You’re meant to be here.”
This quote by Olympic coach Herb Brooks is one you should always have in your back pocket.
When you see a player start to doubt themselves, when the nerves kick in and they can’t seem to get out of their head, you get them to sit down and simply say “This is your moment.
You’re meant to be here.”
Say it quietly but with purpose. They will remember that moment, as it powers them into the game. This is their moment.
Joe Sakic - Colorado Avalanche - Canadian Professional Center Position
“You need a lot of leaders, but a hockey team needs a voice, not only in the community but more importantly between the coaching staff and the players.
There are always ups and downs in a season; the captain is the guy players look to in those situations.”
When you give a new team captain their role, you should inspire them with this quote. Joe Sakic got it right.
Not only does the captain need to guide their team, but they also need to be the voice of the team.
They are on the ice with the other players and so can see what a coach and what the manager cannot.
A good captain can balance the communication between all parties, allowing the group to work as one.
Steve Yzerman - Detroit Red Wings - Canadian Professional Center Position
“Whether somebody is really competent – whether he has a good hockey mind, whether he’s a good person to lead a hockey club – is something determined over a long period of time, not one tournament.”
If one of your players, or even your whole team, has a terrible year then it’s time to think back to Steve Yzerman's wise words.
Everyone has their rough spots, but one bad game or one bad season doesn’t determine if you are a bad player or not.
It’s your overall style from start to finish that shows how good you are.
No one looks at a player’s final years in professional hockey before deciding if they were any good.
Most Hall of Famers had their best accomplishments in the middle of their career, and yet we still consider them to be outstanding players even though they couldn’t possibly reach that level now.
That's because the overall gameplay is what we are looking at. And that's what your players should remember.
Bobby Orr - Chicago Black Hawks - Canadian Professional Defensive Position
“There are no environments where you’re only going to win because life just isn’t like that.”
This quote might sound morbid, but it is a reality check. If you have players that keep picking at the thing they did wrong, talk to them about Bobby Orr.
In this quote alone he explained that nothing will be perfect. Perfection isn’t possible.
Even in your successes, there will be a glimpse of failure somewhere. That failure should be your next learning point and not a moment of shame.
Each of these quotes can help you inspire and encourage your players depending on what's affecting their morale.