Ten lessons from Super Bowl LI…
-- A team with skill and experience is never out of it, especially when falling behind early. That team does its things its way, and fidelity to and faith in that approach yields dividends.
-- On the other hand, if you get out to a lead, pay attention to how you got there. Was it the product of your philosophy, or was it mere circumstance, like a turnover or a fluke? A shot from the perimeter that bounces off two bodies and a post for a goal is not evidence of playing the right way. Don't mistake circumstance for getting results from your devotion to philosophy.
-- It’s a team sport; that’s how you advance through a single-elimination tournament or a best-of-seven series, but stars have to step up in big moments.
-- In football, that means the quarterback…you don’t see lead running backs or tight ends playing that role. In baseball, it is usually your ace pitcher. In hockey, that generally means player of a unique position -- a center (Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews) or a goaltender (Patrick Roy, Bernie Parent, Ken Dryden). There is only so much a winger – even a really good goal-scoring winger – can do (ten wingers have won a Conn Smythe in 51 tries, none more than once). It is important Alex Ovechkin raise his game in the spring, perhaps more so that Nicklas Backstrom does so, or Braden Holtby.
-- The sports gods really don’t care what you think is fair or who you think should win. Really…outside of New England, who roots for Tom Brady? There are no sympathetic characters or villains in how the sports gods deal with wins and losses.
-- The road to victory is neither straight nor smooth.
-- Panic and urgency are not the same thing. Behave like you’re playing as if you were ahead, even if you are playing from behind.
-- Someone a casual fan has never heard of is going to make a difference…but you can bet that guy is known, and respected, in the locker room.
-- Teams take their cues from their coaches. You don’t find many teams – and fewer successful ones – where the personality of the players as a group is at odds with the personality of their coaches.
-- Remember what Eliot Ness said…
…here endeth the lesson.