The Process

Edmonton Oilers Florida Panthers
Photo credit:Jim Rassol-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
My one bit of advice for all of you guys out there … if you become a Dad then go all in. 100 pecrcent. Give everything that you have and I can guarantee you that you will never regret it. There is nothing better in the world than being a father and there is absolutely nothing greater than being that person who is always there for your kids. Take them to dance and hockey. Don’t miss a performance or a game. Get up early with them even though you are exhausted. Talk to them. Listen to them. Go all in.
A couple of weeks ago I was in Spain with my son. We wandered. We ate and drank and talked. There is no greater feeling than finding out what your eighteen year old son is made of. I am very proud of him, what he has accomplished and what he has planned.
As we talked, he laid bare his worries and fears and I gave him what guidance I could. Most of what I said … do what you are doing and trust yourself. He is pretty well fully baked now as are his sisters. We put in the work and gave everything that we could to them. There were times when there were bumps but we trusted in what we were doing and the end results, if I do say so myself, are pretty damn good. We questioned ourselves at times, wondered if we could do better (you always can) but mostly we had a plan and we stuck with it, adjusting when we had to, but mostly trusting that what we were doing was right.
The boy is proof of evolution, if I might brag on him for a bit. He is the tallest McLean ever (low bar admittedly). Handsome, strong, brilliant and the absolutely best person. He just finished his first year at Mac for engineering and he absolutely blew the doors off of a very challenging program.
Engineering, especially first year, is built to grind you into powder. A million years ago when I was in school I had friends in engineering and I watched in horror (and amusement to be honest) as they studied their asses off in order to pull of marks in the high sixties. So when the boy texted us after his first midterm and let us know that he had aced it we were very happy and also a bit surprised. He warned us ‘don’t expect this every time’ (although this ended up being the norm after all) and my response was not to worry about the marks but to just worry about putting in the work. A 90 was nice to see but it was the habits and studying that got him that 90 that were most important.
The process. Not the results. But if the process is a good one, then the results will come.
Two years ago I coached the boy in his last year of hockey. Seven years before the team had been formed from scratch and that year they won a total of zero games. They were the worst competitive hockey team in the city of Toronto. The boy joined the following year and they won four games and the year after they won seven. I took over the team at that point and that season we won eleven and then COVID hit.
When we got back on the ice we became a contender for the first time but finished the season empty handed. And then we had our last season. By this time we were a pretty damn good team. And to the amusement of the longest serving players, I always talked about the process. Work hard. Stick together in good times and especially bad. Play your game and force the other team to adjust.
That last season we maybe had two or three games where we were not up to our standards. Otherwise, this group of 17-year-old men and women did exactly what they had to do. And in their last season they won two championships in the six competitions they took part in and they were in the mix for three more. Did we have some luck? Of course. Hockey is very random. When Wayne Gretzky said last Saturday night that it would come down to who wanted it more, who worked the hardest and also got some luck he got it, with all due respect, wrong. Neither the Oilers nor the Panthers are going to get outworked or out willed … both of these teams would die for the Stanley Cup. But luck and talent … that’s the key right there.
My amazing young people might have come out of their last season with zero trophies if they had no luck. If they had amazing luck they might have won five. Two was probably a pretty fair result. But the key was that they played the way that they had to play and so they were in the mix five times out of six and if you are in the mix then you have a shot.
The Oilers are in trouble, but they are in the mix. If I were a betting man I would have probably put money on the Panthers before the first game. After the first period I thought “Oh boy now we are going to see a Florida push.” And yet it did not come. After two periods I thought the same thing and I was wrong again.
Deserve has nothing to do with anything and nobody is going to get a ribbon for losing a game but the Oilers proved for one night at least that they were the better team. That game was an absolutely dominant performance by your Oilers and things certainly looked good for the next two weeks. And then in Game 2 the wheels fell off. What happened? To me it was reminiscent a bit of 2006 again. In Game 1 of that series the Oilers came out and ran the Canes (spits!) out of the rink for nearly two periods and then an hour later they had lost Game 1 and Roli for the series. The next game they got absolutely rolled, probably their worst performance of the playoffs. Sound familiar?
Call it a letdown or whatever you will but on Monday the Oilers looked like a team that had gone to war every second night for six-plus weeks, especially two of the guys who have been doing the heaviest lifting, Bouchard and Leon. Nurse’s absence meant even more minutes for EB and in the third he was gassed and it showed in mistake after mistake. And Draisaitl, undoubtedly playing hurt for a few weeks now, looks like a guy who is exhausted.
Never mind that Evander Kane should likely not be playing at all.
So what’s next? Well … Darnell Nurse had better get well. Sacrifice those chickens if you got ’em. But otherwise the Oilers need to trust in the process and keep doing what they are doing. ‘What!?!?” you say. ‘But they are down 2-0!!!!’
Yep and if they played Game 1 seventy times they come away with two points fifty-five times. Unfortunately, it is not a seventy-game series but only seven but the fact remains. And yes Game 2 was a disaster but here’s the thing … a little puck luck and they pull it off.
Don’t be downhearted! Believe! If the Oilers play the way they are capable of then they WILL be going back to Miami square at two apiece.
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