Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Truth From the Red Line

After over 30 years of playing hockey, the game's truisms are finally taking philosophical root in my mind. "Keep your stick on the ice" is really a missive to stay tuned to the world around you and to remain prepared. "Make yourself available, skate to the openings" may be sound offensive advice but it is truer still in life where the only way to take advantage of opportunities is to be opportunistic (is that Kafka, or Warren Buffet?) Likewise, on defense, look for where no one else is – where coverage is weak, that's where you could get caught. This too could be derived straight from Warren Buffet's motto, "When others are timid, be brave, when others are bold, be cautious." Back on the ice, you'd say, if your teammate has the puck carrier pinned, overload the position, double the puck carrier to force the turn-over. Defense partners should call to each other as to who should cover the shooter or the pass – not too different from the common corporate mantra, "communication is key." "When racing an opponent to the puck, don't be the first one there, rather, be the first to gain position." Again, it reads like a business tip (as in "being first is more important than being good.") "When retrieving the puck, take a shoulder check before you reach it. See where everyone is. Know your options first." That one doesn't even sound like a hockey tip as much as a real estate training guide. "On a break, be decisive, make your deke before you're in the defender's range. If he takes the bait, you're gone before he can make a correction." Be decisive, make your move early, make others over-commit? That could be from Sun Tzu's The Art of War. Of course, my favourite would be, "keep moving your feet" (harder than it sounds) which could be an Oprah slogan for never giving up on your dreams.

Lenny Dykstra, the former Mets and Phillies star who wants to parlay his business acumen into a magazine that advises athletes how to invest – where was Lenny when Mike Tyson needed him?
If you doubt me, read Nails Never Fails, and see how every business situation seems to have a baseball counterpart. Baseball may have catchier expressions such as calling a turning point a "one-and-one count" (which may beat "overloading the zone") but hockey is not without it's Canadian character. Could there be anything more Canadian than, "dump and chase" (sounds like a strategy for shorting a stock) or "working the cycle"? Maybe the Red Wings should give business seminars.

Update November 24, 2010: Lenny "Nails" Dykstra isn't quite the investor he claimed. This from MercuryNews.com, "Dykstra filed for bankruptcy protection in July [2010], saying he owed more than $31 million and had about $50,000 in assets."

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