by Angus MacCaull

I had a chance to talk briefly to some really successful NHL players at the 2nd Annual Charity Hockey Classic in Liverpool this week. As I made my way around the table getting autographs and shaking hands during the meet and greet before the game, I asked each player if they could tell me just one word that comes to mind when I say “training”. I elaborated a little and said, “You know what keeps you going when you’re not feeling motivated?”

A couple of the players signed my program but avoided any further interaction, which is fair enough. Their lives and schedules are hectic and they’ve had to do a lot of full on press junkets over the years. But Gary Leeman opened up honestly and refreshingly with a few words, as did Mike Krushelnyski. Ray Bourque was a consummate pro who took the question in and wrote down a solid answer in his own hand beside his signature. Dennis Maruk did too. Bob Sweeney also responded right on point. And Al Iafrate was particularly friendly and explored the topic with me a little bit. Here’s what they had to say about what keeps them moving through the tough spots in life:

  • Gary Leeman – “It comes down to hard work.”
  • Mike Krushelnyski – “Try to be Number 1”
  • Ray Bourque – “To be the best”
  • Dennis Maruk – “Dedication and commitment”
  • Bob Sweeney – “Passion”
  • Al Iafrate – “Emotion and confidence give you a lot of energy. In anything, if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you probably won’t succeed.”
NHL player Al Iafrate playing hockey with very young hockey player
Iafrate good-heartedly giving a young player a quick lesson on the ice.