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How to Win

The Mind of a Champion

“Carelessness does more harm than a want of knowledge.” — Benjamin Franklin

As the Stanley Cup playoffs open, one of my favorite hockey stories comes to mind.

It takes place in the years 1980-83, when the New York Islanders were winning four straight championships.

Mike Bossy was a key player for that dynasty, a highly skilled goal-scorer.

In one game, a scramble around the net took the goalie out of position. Bossy was standing alone in front of the open net, and the puck came to him. What a moment in time! One of the greatest goal-scorers of all time was standing undefended in front of the net, alone with the puck. What do you suppose happened? Bossy put the puck into the net, the Islanders won the game, and eventually took the championship.

After the game, a reporter asked Bossy what he was thinking when he was standing alone in front of the net. Standing nearby, I thought it was a silly question. After all, what could the player possibly be thinking except, “Time to celebrate!”

But Bossy’s reply was thoughtful and just the opposite of what I had been thinking. He said:

“I was thinking that if anything went wrong, it wouldn’t be because I was careless. I just wanted to concentrate on putting the puck into the net.”

What an insight into the mind of a champion and Hall of Famer! He never lost focus, he never allowed himself to get careless.

His quote brings to mind the words of golf legend Bobby Jones, who said, “The mark of a champion is to remain everlastingly on the lookout against the self.”

Bossy watched himself carefully in that situation. No wonder he is in the Hockey Hall of Fame.


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