From the Stands
By Paul Osborne
“The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work. Work is the key to success, and hard work can help you accomplish anything” – Vince Lombardi
Guelph vice-president and general manager Mike Kelly always talks about changing the culture within the Storm organization. He refers to work ethic, the desire to compete on every shift and the pride a player should take in the uniform he wears.
When that finally happens a certain swagger, an expectation to win every night, will emerge. Winning organizations realize that winning is never easy. Those teams striving to get there get tricked into thinking that once you have tasted a little success, more will surely follow. But it never does unless you are willing to pay the price.
Sunday afternoon we saw one franchise that has truly achieved success, while another that still has a long road to travel before they can say they have arrived.
That became painfully obvious when the Guelph Storm split their opening weekend coming from behind to beat Saginaw 4-3 in overtime Friday before getting humbled 8-2 by London on Sunday.
Out of the six plus periods they played, they only put forth the necessary effort in two of them. The veterans on the team have slipped into that dangerous zone of feeling entitled, like they are satisfied with what they have accomplished as individuals.
“Too many of our veteran players are just happy they got drafted (into the NHL),” said disgusted Storm coach Scott Walker after Sunday’s loss. “I found that our drafted players were pretty much non-existent in the first game and not even close (Sunday).”
Matt Finn struggled mightily, Scott Kosmachuk has been invisible since day one of training camp, Tanner Richard is far too casual in his play and Zack Mitchell, who appeared at camp ready to compete for every puck, has suddenly fallen back to the pack. Garret Sparks has also been a disappointment to start the season.
London, also a young team, is light years ahead of the Storm when it comes to understanding how to win. They don’t walk into an opposing rink, they enter with a swagger that is infuriating to other teams and their fans. But the Knights get it. They realize that talent will only take you so far – it is up to the group to go out and seize the day, to earn the prize they seek.
There is an old Chinese proverb that says “Man stand for long time with mouth open before roast duck flies in.” Too many Storm players are standing with their mouths open waiting for the points and wins to fly in. It doesn’t work that way, which is something that Kelly and Walker will have to keep pounding into their heads.
“We win as a team and we lose as a team,” said captain Matt Finn after he was a minus-4 on Sunday (granted he plays more minutes than anyone else on the team).
What every member of that Storm needs to understand is that great teams make success look easy, because they work harder than everyone else. It is that ability to urge each other to greater heights and to expect nothing but 100 per cent from each individual that separates organizations like the Knights and Storm.
The good news is that Guelph can get there, but this weekend illustrated that they have a long way to go.
From the Land of Oz . . . One of the most pleasant surprises of opening weekend was the play of sophomore forward Justin Auger. He scored the game tying goal late in the third period against Saginaw and used his size to his advantage on most shifts . . . 17-year-old Jason Dickinson has three goals in his first two games . . . 16-year-old rookie Robby Fabbri and Kyle Locke also picked up their first OHL points with an assist each . . . Guelph hosts Owen Sound on Sept. 28 at 7:30 p.m.