For so many this past weekend, the dream of donning an NHL jersey or standing behind the bench as an NHL head coach came to fruition -- a moment of shared reflection and reverie for family and friends and participants alike.
Yes, the possibilities on Opening Night are exhilarating. But now the business of readiness rolls on. The regular season is a daily, weekly, month-by-month endurance test -- an amalgam of practice, games and travel that taxes an individual's resolve and a team's resiliency. The ebb and flow is a physical strain and a mental drain -- the ultimate team-sport challenge simultaneously embraced and endured.
Guiding the process for the first time at the NHL level are
Wilson had the thrill of seeing his Toronto Maple Leafs play a strong game in winning at Detroit, prevailing 3-2 on a night when they watched the Stanley Cup champs raise their banner. Wilson had his team watch the ceremony and personally connected with the event as his uncle,
In a 48-hour span, Wilson's weekend became a microcosm of the NHL experience -- ups and downs with another game looming. As Wilson put it to local reporters after the rout by Montreal, "We have more teaching points to work with after a game like this. We'll move on; get ready for the next game."
It is a constant exercise in address mistakes and reinforce the correct way of doing things, then clear minds and restore confidence, or some facsimile thereof.
It was a genuine, spontaneous reaction signifying satisfaction on so many levels. But, as Anderson stated afterwards, "It is only one game. Sure I'm happy for a lot of reasons. But we cannot be satisfied. We have to change the culture here. Mediocrity is the enemy of success."
Playing back-to-back games with travel to Florida in between doesn't give a guy much time to enjoy the moment. Indeed, the thrill was short-lived as Thrashers fell to the Panthers 3-2 in overtime on Saturday night.
That same fleeting buzz holds true for 18-year olds like Toronto's
While McLellan's Sharks at 3-0 entered the first full week without yet feeling the sting of defeat, Melrose, Granato and Murray are still awaiting the feeling of fleeting euphoria that the first win produces. But win or lose, there is always another task at hand -- a practice to run or attend, a video session to oversee or view, a plane to catch, a game to manage.
That's the process that commenced over the weekend. The idea -- the challenge, really -- is to enjoy the long journey to spring and, hopefully, the playoffs. There is nothing like it.