The Humboldt Broncos were back on the ice this week for the first time since the tragic bus accident last April claimed 16 lives including Head Coach Darcy Haugan. Only two players from the crash returned to the ice for the season-opening game.

The NHL developed a “Community Hero Award” named after Willie O’Ree this year. Coach Haugan won the inaugural award. The award recognizes an individual who has demonstrated an impressive record of leadership, collaboration or behavior that has transcended the sport, improving lives and helping others reach their potential.

Coach Haugan Developed a Core Covenant for his team:

Humboldt Broncos Core Covenant

FAMILY first.
Be THANKFUL for the opportunity to wear the Bronco jersey.
PLAY each game and practice with PASSION and
Conduct ourselves with HONESTY and INTEGRITY.
Treat all volunteers, billets, sponsors and fans with RESPECT
Understand that we are building FOUNDATIONS for future
generations with our WORDS and ACTIONS.
Always have HOPE and BELIEVE that everything is possible.
Always GIVE more than you take.
STRIVE for GREATNESS in all areas of life.

Willie O’Ree, for whom the award is named after, was the first black player in the NHL. When asked about the award and what it takes to achieve it, O’Ree was quoted as follows:

“I believe we are three individuals within ourselves. We’re a person who we think we are, we’re a person who other people think we are and we’re a person who we really are. And to find that real person within yourself and staying focused on what you want to do, that’s a big factor.”

If you examine the Hockey Principles developed by the NHL and partner hockey associations from around the world you will find that the words closely align with the Broncos Core Covenant. But aligning your core covenant with stated hockey principles is only one half the equation “Words”. In order to lay the foundation for future generations the other half of the equation kicks in “Action”.

I believe that for actions to be transformative they must come from that place within ourselves that Willie O’Ree describes as “who we really are”. Words are important but inadequate.

It isn’t just Darcys “words” the Core Covenant that made him so transformative but the “actions” that flowed from a place within a coach who knew who he really was.

Find that person within yourself and stay focused.