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 for this road trip.
Guys, welcome, welcome. You’ll note I’m speaking in hushed tones today and that the coaches have been kept out of our meeting. This is because I want to create the safest, most peaceful, nonjudgmental environment today for you that I can. Please, enjoy the tea I’ve brewed for you all and the digestive cookies. Aren’t they comforting? It’s like tea with Grandma! She was such a sweet lady. Remember how she used to give you as many Dixie Cups as you wanted to eat after dinner, as long as you finished your peas? And her cat that used to play with you for hours, chasing a crumpled up piece of paper attached to a string? Adorable. Why, yes, Evander, that is cinnamon you taste. It’s a personal recipe. There’s plenty of tea, guys, enjoy it while it’s hot. Sorry about the Styrofoam cups, they were all I could find.
So let’s rap. It’s been a strange time, hey? You guys were flying out there for a while. I was so proud of my boys – am. I AM proud. Remember, it is about winning but we can’t know winning without knowing defeat. Not too much defeat, that just makes more defeat and you guys have the hang of defeat so I really want to focus on the winning part of winning now, m’kay? Kay.
We’ve eased in here, gentlemen, so let’s start to bring up the positive energy, yeah? I’m gonna put on a little music. You guys like Jimi? Who doesn’t like Jimi? Let’s get loose and funky up in here, oh yeah. There we go… to Electric Ladyland. Niiiice… So, fellas, big road trip coming up! It’s gonna be a long haul. It’s gonna be difficult both mentally and physically. The weather is going to slap you then seduce you, from the bitter New York cold to the wet heat of Florida. You must travel through these worlds like a fierce pack of predators, your single, collective object never wavering: you must eat. You must kill. You will do this on skates. You will emerge bloody and victorious. But to earn victory in these foreign lands means you must know that victory is assured before you even arrive. Let’s go on the road together, boys, right here and now. Relax, let my voice carry you through this journey. Yes… yes… it is beginning. Can you feel it, my young warriors? Drink up… let the ayahuasca take you where you need to go… I will guide you…. I am the Sorcerer Supreme.
Whoah-oh, Thunder Road, it’s a death trap, a suicide rap! Those poor sonsofbitches don’t want to be there any more than you do. Use their fear against them. Cower, mongoose, cower, for we are cobra and we strike with deadly precision. This Brodeur, he is old and infirm, begging for the cobra strike to lay him into his muddy grave. Honour this. Strike quickly and often. There is one called Elias. He is prideful but his bones are weary. Your powerful jaws can snap his trachea and give him sweet relief. The only one who will not die by your venom is the one called Jagr. He is the mongoose shaman. He is beyond the physical realm. Any damage you may suffer at his hands should be accepted as a gift. Your GM should have brought him to you in the offseason. He knows the winning warrior’s way.
Carry us, magic carpet, carry us on the winds of good fortune into the state of New York. This state is a state of flux. Solid, liquid, gas, solid, liquid, gas. They have no identifiable form. How do you fight an enemy with no body? How do you throttle water as it pours through your hands? You become what they fear most – success. Out on the longest island, The Tavares is mighty. He has trained his motley batch of warriors well enough to defend their women folk but not to conquer their rivals. They only know how to skirmish. Here we must take the form of the lioness. We must be fierce but patient. They will feint and flail and perhaps even cut you deep enough to draw blood but they do not know that the rest of your pack has surrounded them and has them exactly where they want them: tired and overconfident. Then and only then do you pounce…. and feast. It is essential here, no matter how much Ondrej wants to revert to his natural, grazing water buffalo form, that the pack reminds him of his leonine spirit. Roar for me, Ondrej!! That will have to do.
Brave warriors, I should remind you at this juncture that if you have soiled yourself, that it is a perfectly natural reaction to the brew. Embrace it. You are purging fear and Denny’s. Release yourself from this greasy, earthly bondage. We must fly on. Everyone back on the magic carpet! No, no, there’s no actual carpet, just close your eyes and breathe. Breathe… good. In time, with the music. Let your hearts sing like Stratocasters through a Big Muff. It’s a guitar pedal. Devin, stop laughing. We fly, we fly!
Pennsylvania… Allentown, the Big Cheese Steak. These are diggers, moles, meager labourers wearing belts of steel that bind them to the dirt. They would tell you this is their strength but the truth is that the world despises them. We live in the information age and these blind mud-huffers want to dig their tunnels deeper? We live in the cloud! We need nothing of your mines and manufacturing. What can you build us that is of any worth?! A statue of Sylvester Stallone?! Is a fictional character your proudest moment, Philadelphia? Sweep down from the cloud, my proud eagles, yes, you are eagles now, and pierce the hearts of those Bobby Clarke loving rodents! Squeeze the life out of them harder than Scott Hartnell squeezing his shampoo bottle looking for the last drops of Pert because he forgot to put it on his grocery list. He has thirteen bags of beef jerky but no conditioner! He is vulnerable – crush, my soaring symbols of freedom! Devour him and regurgitate him to your young, the Scheifele and the Trouba. May they ingest his essence of determination. Leino? Lame-o. Voracek? Needs some work on his fore-a-check, am I right? Giroux? More like gir… ah, he’s quite good actually.
What’s that sound? The vortex has opened up and pulled you back to New York state! Solid, liquid, gas. Have mercy on the Rangers. They seek and they seek but they never find. The noble Lunquist sees his moment drifting away. The Nash sought refuge from a stifling blue jacket only to bring his misfortunes with him, double-breasted and musty from mothballs. The Rangers, like all soldiers, project strength but do not be fooled. It is only a projection. It is vapour. It is gas. You must be solid. Here you will be the rhino and you will smash. They will want to collect your horn as their hunter’s prize. When they materialize from their indecisiveness and lack of identity to try and grab your horn, you will stomp them. You will feel them turn to pulp beneath your tree trunk feet. You will remind them that their finest warrior was a noble moose who passed from them a decade ago. The Lundquist will bay a mournful howl. It may just be a groin pull.
South now, my snowbirds! Feel the sun on your face. Glory in it. Tampa is a place you might have feared but The Stamkos is out with a broken leg. Seriously, did you catch that? Dude is done-zo. You don’t want to kick a team while they’re down but this opportunity won’t be there next time so kick like you’re Ronaldo on a PED binge. Get in there and grab your 2 points and get on out. No metaphors, here, guys, they’re a mess right now. Get two, get out.
Panthers at the last. Panthers, really? This team of ragtag rejects belongs on the Island of Misfit Toys, not in the NHL! Panther, ha! Never has a more elegant creature’s name been so sullied by backwater underachievers. Here’s what you will do: You will become panthers. You will show them what it means to be a jungle cat. You will toy with them like mice and when you are ready you will decapitate them and leave their scattered carcasses to fester in the fetid swamplands of Miami. When Crockett and Tubbs come to investigate, they’ll wonder why anyone called the vice squad to look into the mysterious deaths of a dozen mice in hockey jerseys. They will rub their stubble and laugh. The mice will evaporate into pastel ether in hopes of one day relocating to Quebec city or Seattle. The children of Miami will tell tall tales of knights errant who pursued a cup named Stanley so that they might drink its magical elixir. They would settle for peach schnapps. It was guzzled once and spat out. And so shall you drink of their blood and with full bellies and fuller hearts you will return home.
When you get back, it will be bitterly cold but you will have 12 points to stoke the fire in your hearth. You will have slithered and clawed and stalked and pounced and flown above your competition. You are beasts, my boys. You are the pure energy of molecular disintegration and reintegration. You are within and without. You are quantum, here and there simultaneously, forcing universes to expand and collapse at your will. You are — sorry, hold on, that’s my phone, I have to take this.
Yeah? Hey, bud, I’m at work, I can’t really talk. Just defrost a pizza. What do you mean Robert won’t eat cheese? Vegan?! Since when? He’s seven! Listen, I’ll be home– Don’t you take that tone with me! I’ll be home when I’m home. I don’t care. Make him some soup or something. No, there’s no soy in the fridge. I gotta… yeah, I gotta go.
Sorry, boys, I’m back! Listen, you all did really well. The ayahuasca is going to wear off in about 3 or 4 days but the revelations you had will last a lifetime. The feeling should come back to your legs in about 15-20 minutes. I kinda have to run, my parking meter is almost up, but you guys have an aces road trip, okay? I mean, look, you’ve already won, yeah? Yeah, you get it. Mental toughness. Go Jet ‘em.