October 18, 2012

Shjon Podein

In the excellent Ross Bernstein book Raising Stanley, Shjon Podein shared three life lessons he learned in his successful pursuit of the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.

"You have to be smart enough to know that you're not that smart and surround yourself with great people. I try to surround myself today with great people, who in turn make me better. They are the ones who help me with my charitable foundation and with my business. Without them I would be lost.

"Second, you have to have a passion and a love for what you do.

"Third, you have to be willing to work harder than the next guy in order to accomplish your goals. 

"Those are my big takeaways from winning the Stanley Cup that I have been able to translate into my life after hockey."

Great stuff from Podein. His three life lessons are three of the traits of highly successful people that I truly admire and value, not to mention attempt to incorporate into my own life everyday. 

Hockey fans always had a great respect for Shjon Podein, be it on the ice as a hard working grinder or off the ice as one of hockey's top humanitarians with his tireless work for children's charities. In 2001 he won the King Clancy Award.

On the ice the Minnesota-Duluth grad was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers but best known as a grinding, shut down winger and expert penalty killer with the Philadelphia Flyers and Colorado Avalanche in the 1990s and early 2000s. He also played late in his career with the St. Louis Blues.

There was nothing fancy about his game at all. He was a mucker and grinder. He was not a smooth skater or a great puckhandler. He didn't have great vision or creativity with the puck. Instead he thrived as a labourer, working harder than his opponent and using his size advantage to dig for loose pucks and rebounds. He worked hard to make himself into a reliable defensive forward and penalty killer. He was rewarded with a NHL career that was almost 700 games long, with 100 goals and 206 points accumulated.

“Playing the game and doing your part to help the team be successful is all that matters to me,” said Podein. “Being noticed for your individual play isn’t a top priority.”

While winning the Stanley Cup is every hockey player's dream, you get the feeling winning the Clancy Award for his charitable work is something he is equally proud of.

“It’s kind of ironic in some ways that you are rewarded for doing something you don’t expect recognition for,” he said. “I think any hockey player will tell you the most important thing is feeling fortunate you are in a position to help.”

“I met some children who were suffering from a disease known as ataxia (a loss of the ability to coordinate muscular movement) and it really struck a chord with me. After that day, I knew that I wanted to do something to help.”

Podein tries his best to combine hockey with his work with youth.

“Any time you have the opportunity to combine helping kids and hockey together, it really doesn’t get much better than that."

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