This season The Jets have hired Sports Psychologist and Life Coach, Dr. Gary Barnard to help focus and motivate the team. We’re fortunate enough to have been granted access to these closed-door meetings. Here is the transcript for Dr. Gary’s session with the team in preparation for their western road trip, beginning in Nashville, Oct. 24.
Hey, guys, good to see you! Grab your pillow, settle in. Great stuff. Look, I know you’re all tired and frustrated from that overtime loss to Washington but there’s a lot of good you can take away from that performance before you head out on this road trip. First of all – you guys played like winners. Most of you. About half of you. But it’s a process, right? Each game we keep adding another piece and then soon we have our perfect sandcastle! Wait, piece… puzzle? We’ve solved the puzzle? Finished the puzzle? Where did sandcastle come from? Not sure. It’s not important. What’s important is that we learn our lessons and build from them, right?
What did we learn? We can score! We’re getting scored on too but we can at least fight fire with fire. What if we used that fire for defense too? Think about shooting the puck right at the player you’re defending against, like he was a goalie – just take a wicked slap shot right at the guy’s face and – sorry, Coach, what? Oh, you’d rather they didn’t… you’d like to see better positional play. Okay, that’s fine. Doesn’t really say “fire” to me but I’m not a hockey coach. I’m not telling you how to do your job. I mean, you’re the guy who basically told the press you don’t have the pieces for success, which though likely true, isn’t exactly motivating, is it? Oh, reverse psychology? Oh, I see, so you’re the psychologist, now? Ha. Coach, can I see you over in the corner for a minute?
(Whispering) You want my job? Do ya? You wanna deal with the constant whining of spoiled millionaires with performance anxiety? It’s like hearing a Greek god complain that his lightning bolts have lost a little sting. Little pissants don’t even know how good they have it! Or how about the constant threat of lawsuits or revoking your license for allegedly reckless practices? Does that sound like a good time to you, Coach? I didn’t think so. So let’s leave the psychobabble to the trained professional, okay?
Okey-doke, fellas, let’s look at the big opportunity you have coming up with this road trip! A successful road trip is all about preparation. You have to be mentally tough because there are no comforts of home for you to fall back on. When I was a kid, my mom used to pack our station wagon so full of food and blankets and games and extra clothes that you’d think we were never coming back. For some reason my dad was never on those trips. He worked long hours. My mom would talk about him non-stop though, swearing, “That no good this-and-that!” while chain-smoking in the car – windows rolled up, mind you! They didn’t know better in those days. My little sister would be curled up in the back seat with her colouring books. She only used the red or the black crayons but she was very creative. Still is. You want a good ice cream cake, you go down to the DQ on Rochdale blvd. in Regina! She can draw anything in icing; it’s incredible.
She once did a Stephen Harper cake for one of his campaign visits. She made him look very handsome, used shaved almonds for his hair, remarkable. Her picture was even in the paper, holding up the cake with the Prime Minister! He let everyone in the restaurant have a piece. Wasn’t that nice of him? She said he was real friendly though, apparently, no one ever paid DQ for the cake or any of the burgers his team ate that day. That’s just politics, I guess.
Where was I? Oh, right, road trip. Where are you guys off to? Nashville, Dallas, Denver, St. Louis… wow, some real America, there, boys! Bring your guns! I’m joking, you should never carry firearms; it only ends up with your son losing the tip of his finger. But, right, road trips, focus, intention, energy. How do you stay focused on the road? You use each other. This where you really test your sense of teammates…manship. Of teaminess. Team… building. You want to build on each other… like a human pyramid! Right? Like back in grade school! Remember human pyramids? They’re super fun. Let’s try one right now – biggest guys line up on the bottom – what? No? No one will get hurt, Coach, don’t be a fussbudget. Okay, fine, no pyramid. We can still imagine it in our minds: a beautiful tower of teammates reaching high up into the sky. You know what’s up there, boys? The Stanley Cup. And you can only get there on one another’s shoulders. So when you’re out there on the road, conjure up that image, all of you stacked up on one another until you reach your pinnacle.
Alright, who snickered?! Who thinks this is funny? You think I’m here for my health? I got arteries so full of cholesterol they may as well be made of bacon. I’m trying to teach you guys something about trust. When you’re out there, in a strange motel playground in Spokane building sandcastles, watching your little sister draw devil horns on every Big Bird in her colouring book while your mom sleeps all day – who’s got your back then? Huh? Who’s looking after your best interests? Just make the damned mental pyramid. Huh. Sandcastles…
Coach, I’ll let you wrap up. I need a cigarette. Have fun in the USA, fellas. Eat some barbeque for me. Put the pillows back in the… yeah, you know the drill. Go Jet ‘em!