The Road to the 2014 All-Ontario Provincial Championships = Heightened on-ice communication, stemming from “initiative,” resulting in greater leadership, combined with a never-ending commitment towards always improving!
The door to the dressing room opened. Suddenly, a great voice boomed-“Smells like Champions in here!” “I’m very impressed! You won a City Championship last night, and here you are practicing the very next morning. It just goes to prove that a Champions work is never done!” Legendary Hockey Hall of Fame Defenseman; 4 time Stanley Cup winner, Paul Coffey, commenting on the work ethic of the 2001 Toronto Marlboros, who were about to take the ice for a practice, at 8:00 am, the day after winning the GTHL “AAA” City Championship.
As the great motivational author, Napoleon Hill said, on page 316 of his newly revised book, “Law of Success” the 21st Century Edition: The reason why initiative and leadership are associated terms, is that leadership is essential for the attainment of success, and initiative is the very foundation upon which the necessary quality of leadership is built. Initiative is as essential to success as a hub is to a wheel!”
Further, Hill wrote: “The world bestows its big prizes, both in money and honors, for one thing, and that is initiative. Initiative is that exceedingly rare quality which impels a person to do what needs to be done, without being told to do it! As Elbert Hubbard said: “Initiative is doing the right thing, without being told.”
Throughout the month of December, while the team practiced, one theme became dominant for the 2001 Toronto Marlboro team:
“NO TALKIE, NO HOCKEY!”
“NO TALKIE, NO HOCKEY!”
“NO TALKIE, NO HOCKEY!"
The “tipping point” came sometime in the heat of January’s hottest games, where the Marlboro players took the concept of “NO TALKIE, NO HOCKEY,” to an entirely new level, showing tremendous leadership, stemming from outstanding player-initiative!
“NO TALKIE NO HOCKEY,” was fundamentally a metaphor designed to help players to speak to each other constantly, while on the ice. The level of on-ice communication was good, however, the Coaching Staff noticed that the more the players talked to each other while on the ice, the greater the results, amounting to significantly higher goal totals at each victorious game.
This observation, like the concept of the “100th Monkey,” quickly caught on amongst the players. Soon, communications multiplied, talking amplified, scores rose, and more “2 point games” were amassed!
Then something miraculous happened, that was born of the initiative within the team, occurring on an entirely synchronicitous basis, amongst the whole team - automatically!
“NO TALKIE, NO HOCKEY” was a humorous reminder for players to “pass the puck.”
Suddenly, a very serious and measurable shift took place. In addition to the players calling out to each other, asking for passes; they suddenly became quite vocal, in a completely different regard. Players suddenly began to yell to each other to “TAKE THE SHOT!”
“TAKE THE SHOT!” “TAKE THE SHOT!” “TAKE THE SHOT!”
Suddenly, there were several on-ice “coaches,” advising teammates to shoot the puck, instead of passing the puck, whenever the opportunity presented. From this initiative, several new leadership skills became obvious and these leadership skills washed over the team like a miracle-ray of sunshine streaming through a clean window of opportunity!
“NO TALKIE, NO HOCKEY, BECAME, TAKE THE SHOT! TAKE THE SHOT!
“Initiative is doing the right thing, without being told.”
These observations were only noticed by the Coaching staff. They were not taught to the players. The outstanding leadership skills that have exponentially grown through this player-led initiative, gave rise to a much-improved 2001Toronto Marlboro “January” team, over the December team and although the team lost it’s first game of 2014, the Toronto Marlboros never lost a regular season game, leading right up to their end of season division championship and the highly coveted GTHL City Championship!
Same players. Same team. New player-led initiative. = Greater on-ice leadership!
The Next Chapter/Final Chapter of the 2013-2014 Season: The “All-Ontario’s!”
April 6 – 11, 2014, Ottawa Ontario.
This was a week that will live on in the hearts and minds of everyone - for an eternity! There were so many highlights, life defining moments, extra-curricular activities, and surprises! Those surprises included: a trip to the House of Commons; a very special banquet that was hosted by the Marlboros Senior Executive; the presentation of the very rare “7 Year Pin;” a birthday party; a Toronto Maple Leafs Practice; an Ottawa Senators Practice; a private audience with Jason Spezza; and one very special guest: Mathieu Marcil!
Coach Louie Gialedakis has a saying that every team member well knows: “Give a puck-get a puck.” “Give love-get love!” When it comes to “giving love,” the behind the scenes kindness of Coach Gialedakis is actually a very poorly guarded secret. His heart knows no bounds… especially when it comes to the deep bonds of friendship he long ago formed with the very gifted hockey mind of a young man that suffers with profound Cerebral Palsy, Mathieu Marcil.
Having met many years ago, Mathieu is actually one of Coach Gialedakis’ closest hockey confidants and is so knowledgeable, when Mathieu attends at a Toronto Marlboros game, he is invited into the dressing room, before and after the game, to address the players and Coaches. He is THAT important to Coach Gialedakis and the team. As a matter of fact Louie Gialedakis has oft been heard to ruminate: “If I am ever blessed with the opportunity to Coach in the NHL, I will have a special spot on our home team bench, just the right size, to accommodate Mathieu and his wheelchair. He is that important!”
Mathieu and his father had plans to only attend at two games. After the two games, his father made alternate work arrangements so that they could both spend the week with the team and attend at every game! This was more important to the team than anyone could have foreseen. At the end of the tournament, the player that was named as “best player on the ice,” for the final game, #89, Daniel D’Amico, presented his award, on behalf of all of his teammates, to Mathieu, and thanked him for all of his wonderful support. This presentation was made in the dressing room, in front of the team, the coaching staff, and all of the parents. There was not a dry eye in the room! Right there, everyone knew what initiative and leadership meant, because there could not have been a more shining example.
Speaking of “Leadership!”
Another highlight of a week, that to point, had seen the Marlboros win each of their 5 Provincial Championship games by a significant margin of victory, while taking time off from their busy schedule to visit the House of Commons (HOC). At the HOC, the team was greeted by one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s newest Senate Appointee’s, Senator Victor Oh, and Mississauga Member of Parliament, Brad Butt.
Both gentlemen were extremely kind and generous with their time, posing for all the photos that anyone wished to take, and then they both entertained a very detailed and informative question and answer session from the team, parents, and Coaches. In all, these two very busy Politicians invested over an hour of their time with the team, arranged for a photo session in the beautiful Capital Rotunda, where the team actually witnessed the formal procession of the Ambassador to Peru, being paraded through the HOC, and then they bid the team, adieu.
Just then, as Senator Oh walked into the Senate Chambers… walking out of the Senate Chambers was none other than legendary Montreal Canadians, Stanley Cup Winning Coach - Jacques Demers! We all thought Coach Louie had died and gone to Heaven! All the sudden, as if he were a little kid, calling out to one of his all-time most-favorite super-heroes, we heard Coach Gialedakis calling out to him! “Coach, Coach, Coach, please come over to say hello to our team!” Without missing a beat, the great Coach immediately and very warmly, came over, greeted the team, posed for photos and then took the time to answer all the questions that were asked of him! This was such an unexpected treat! Hockey Royalty… One of Coach Gialedakis' mainstay coaching inspiration, was standing with the 2001 Toronto Marlboros, as if this were a scheduled meeting! Everyone enjoyed the entire HOC experience! Special thanks to Senator Victor Oh, Mississauga MP, Brad Butt, and Senator/Coach Jacques Demer! Three great leaders… no waiting!
The same day they visited the HOC, in the morning, the Marlboros were back on the ice, were previously they beat all teams they faced, including the Markham Waxers and especially, the London Knights, who they “felled” 6-1, in a very one-sided victory. The opponent was a very ‘primed’ North Bay Trappers. The Marlboros ran into a very hot goalie and although they peppered the net with a very significant number of shots on goal, they only managed to lead the game by a score of 1-0, until the last two minutes. During the last two minutes, the Marlboros found themselves penalized, and it was during that time that the Trappers tied the score. The game ended in a 1-1 tie, with the Marlboros taking first place in the overall tournament preliminary standings.
Friday morning saw the Marlboros facing the Markham Waxers, a team that they handily beat, during the tournament preliminary qualifying round. This time, the result would not go the way the Marlboros had planned. As a result the Marlboros ended up playing in the Bronze medal round. Coach Gialedakis' instructions were the same as they had been for the entire last half of the regular season: “let’s go out there and play our game. Have fun and let’s show them what we can do.” The result: The Toronto Marlboros won, 11-3!
In the dressing room after the game, everyone involved with the team came together, to help Coach Louie celebrate his birthday! He was once again, turning “plenty-nine!” LOL! The Coach was in a tough spot. He received a wonderful birthday cake, a fantastic poster of the entire team, in the House of Commons, and after all of the love and affection of great birthday wishes finished, he had to summarize the year, share his thoughts on the game that the team had just played, and he also shared his very optimistic perspective on the new hockey season that would begin soon enough!
Coach Gialedakis thanked everyone involved with the team, for their incredible support, and everyone thanked him for a year that was well-played by everyone involved.