Two more interesting distinctions in learning, come to mind every day, every year and every practice in the American Hockey League. When we are good at something and we like to do it, we become better at it. Makes sense right? You’ve likely learned a whole lot of things in your life this way from eating to text messaging to your job. In hockey, the majority of players who have come this far have done so because they like the game, they are good at it and they have developed that talent through interest.
Stefan Legein spent the formative years of his career doing just that. When I watched him in junior, as I called games in Brampton, it was clear the game came to him the way he wanted and he just excelled on the ice. Sure there was effort but none that was even close to what he would eventually need or be required of him.
Steve Spott, the Marlies Head Coach and former OHL coach with the Kitchener Rangers spent more than few nights shaking his head at what the kid from Oakville could do with the puck.
“He has been creative and inventive on offense. There were nights he did some real damage to defenses in the OHL. It could be nice to be on this side of that this year.”
But, Legein stepped away from the game after turning pro, then bounced about in the AHL from Syracuse to Adirondack to Manchester
“Anytime I go into a place it’s hard for people to look past all the rumours. At one time I was a high end prospect and now I’m just playing to prove to myself that I am the player I was and help my team win whatever way I can. Since taking that time off I’m in a better frame of mind about the game.”
Sport is about the now. Yesterday is history, last week is ancient and anything beyond that isn’t worth really anything on the balance sheet unless it continues to count as a liability. That isn’t something Marlie fans have seen from Legein in the games he has played. He simply provides very limited liability to his team and the game.
That is something the one time. quickest skates in junior hockey, credits to hard work, which brings us to the second way we often learn; through opposition. It isn’t until the AHL, for a good number of players, that they finally face a level where talent alone doesn’t carry the day. Suddenly it takes more than simply getting to the rink before or after school. That can be lost on some fans of professional hockey and often times stops newly professional players in their tracks.
“Today we had a tough skate, pucks flinging around, guys trying to hit you, we got up early, we worked out after, we watched video. Its fun, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t extremely hard work.” These are Legein’s words, words that tell a greater story of how there is more than one way to learn and one way to become an asset to your team.