Chicago, IL — In Asian cultures dragons are mystical creatures that symbolize powers over waters like rainfalls, flood etcetera. They are a symbol of power, strength and good fortune. It is not uncommon to hear “may your child become a dragon.” meaning may they become exceptional.
It is that time of year that the Chicago Blackhawks need to turn into dragons, the time they have been waiting for, the second season, the run to the most storied trophy in all of sports The Stanley Cup.
The Hawks have been been here before, but this year has been a different year. The defending champs are out and Canada’s teams are the darlings whether it is in the east or the west. So there have been some unusual occurrences in the regular season to say the least.
This second season is completely different than the grinding regular season in that you only have 28 chances at most so there is no time for delay or room for error. There are four separate and different opponents that a team will face and defeat if they are to hoist the Cup. Each will present their own obstacles and challenges.
In facing an opponent and learning how to gain the upper hand in a fight, I could not think of anyone better to take advise from than the late Martial Arts Master Bruce Lee.
I remembered one of his quotes “ Empty your mind. You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or creep or drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.” 1
I know as westerners this all sounds so, well Zen, but Bruce Lee studied philosophies and believed in not having a style but being open and using and learning all styles and incorporating them into your own when he founded his own type of Martial Art Jeet Kune Do. You have to know when to act and when not to, when to expand and contract or when to flow or crash.
What does this have to do with the Hawks? In other words, the Hawks need to be flexible and take what the opponent gives them. If the situation calls for the puck to be carried in do so, if it can be passed in do so and if you have to dump and chase do so. Be flexible and adjust on the fly.
The Hawks have experience, they know what needs to be done on the ice, now is the time to just let the instincts that you have prepared for all your lives take over and trust those instincts. It is time for muscle memory and remain calm no matter what is going on around you or out of your control.
In looking back over the past two play off runs the Hawks have had there is also sometimes things that are out of your control, like officiating. Stay calm! We all remember what happened in the Red Wings series game 7 almost cost the Hawks a Cup but because the Hawks remained calm and did not get flustered they overcame.
Last year in the series against the Kings the same thing happened, there were two calls in game 7 that resulted in two goals by the Kings that should not have been allowed. One of the goals was an obvious off sides and the other was a goal that was high sticked in. The Hawks were almost but not quit able to over come two officiating fiascoes.
My point is officials are human with human error, you must stay strong mentally and persevere through. Be ready for these mishaps by the officials because they often happen. If you are ready they will be less likely to effect your on ice performances.
Also there will be injuries it is unavoidable. The good thing for the Hawks is they are well aware of this since the Patrick Kane injury. If there are injuries be prepared and the coaches have done this already in shuffling the lines so players can play with different line mates, positions or partners.
Also get those black aces whoever they may be ready as well. If the Blackhawks have to go through the Predators, Blues, Jets or Ducks you know injuries will occur so get the back-ups ready now.
Have respect for your opponent don’t take them lightly and know they have studied you. Especially the Hawks, other than the Kings I can not think of another teams that others have watched, patterned and targeted.
Even Ken Hitchcock admitted in one of the Blues/Hawks games on a power play goal that when they had studied the Hawks tendencies that play was not in their films anywhere.
Don’t make the mistake the LA Kings did in the regular season. They looked at their schedule and misjudged their opponents that they had at the end of the season as being weaker. There is no weak opponent do they have weaknesses yes, but so do you.
In closing I will leave with another quote by perhaps the greatest and oldest on war tactics, theoretician Sun Tzu –
“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected .” 2
So here is to the Hawks knowing when to flow and when to crash and to becoming dragons that are comfortable in all waters, but can also breath fire when need be.
1. Bruce Lee – Bruce Lee: Artist of Life book Tuttle publishing 4/1/2001
2. Sun Tzu from the book The Art of War