If you’re cut or don’t make a team, you have two choices. You can quit or you can keep going. Notice that complaining about politics or throwing a fit wasn’t one of them. Chances are pretty good if you keep playing hockey, you’ll be cut again at some point so you’ll want to learn to handle it with class. The hockey world is small, and burning bridges is almost never a good idea.
You might think that coach in Texas doesn’t know that coach in upstate New York, but I can assure you that if they don’t, they know someone who does know him. They may have played youth hockey with them at some point or junior hockey, maybe they went to prep school together, they may have coached together at some point, or they met at some scouting event. You also can’t assume anything based on names because family members don’t always share the same last name. My son doesn’t have the same last name as me. There is no one else in my family with my last name or with my son’s, and we aren’t the only families in the world like this. We know a couple hockey families like this. People move, people change jobs, people travel and network with each other. In fact, that’s one of the things we like about hockey. Just about anywhere we go, we run into someone we met at a camp or who is a former teammate.
The second reason is that just because the coach is saying no right now doesn’t mean he’s saying no forever. It doesn’t even mean you are a bad hockey player. You just might not be what he needs at that moment in time. If he needs forwards, but you play defense, he may have to pass this time. Remember that hockey is a small world, so if you handle the cut well, that coach might know of another coach who needs a defenseman, and he might pass your name along. He might be coaching a different team next year and remember you if that new team needs defensemen. He might know a buddy is going to be coaching a new team that hasn’t been announced yet. Coaches pass names around all the time. They’ve all got lists of prospects and players they know. You want to stay on those lists.
It might mean no forever if you throw a fit like a petulant child or blast the team on social media citing politics or saying it’s all rigged. Word gets around if you don’t handle the cut with class, and bad mouthing the process makes you seem entitled. Gets you crossed off the prospect list really fast because who wants to work with a know-it-all brat who pitches a fit when they don’t get their way? Coaches don’t want to pass your name along in that situation because it makes them look bad. They don’t want to be known as the guy that tries to pass his problems onto other people.
Moving on means no excuses. Assess where you need to improve, and do that. Did you give it your all every shift? Did you get enough sleep? Did you eat right? Did you prepare enough? Were your expectations of making this team realistic? If a coach gives you feedback, take it. If not, reflect on what is in your control because you aren’t likely to change that coach’s mind, and there are other tryouts and other teams. Chances are there is a team out there who not only wants you but would be thrilled to have you. Put your efforts there and try again next time.
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