Former Montreal Canadiens’ goalie Jocelyn Thibault, now General Manager of Hockey Quebec, decided to take a very unique approach by contacting the young players registered in the organisation he manages regarding the recent events. Thibault chose to address the players directly, by writing a letter to them instead of the parents, of course knowing that parents will read it.
Nonetheless, the message was incredible and very well put across by Thibault, who happens to know a thing or two about playing hockey. The original of this letter is in French and can be found on Hockey Quebec’s website. I felt that it was important for everyone to see it, so I have taken the liberty of translating it for you.
Letter to you, young hockey player,
To be honest, I’m not sure where to start. I never thought COVID-19 would take away your sport again. It really does something to me and I wanted to share it with you. You couldn’t wait to play hockey again this year. Being part of a gang, practicing, playing games again, participating in tournaments, having fun.
I know your parents were excited too. They were looking forward to it because when you have kids playing hockey, you spend a lot of time with other parents and befriended them. You make a new circle of friends and have a good time together. Often travel budgets are spent in away tournaments (!), But that’s fine with them because they know you are “having fun” and are doing it for you. They were especially looking forward to this season because they know how happy playing your favourite sport makes you.
It’s been almost two years that your life hasn’t been “normal” for someone your age and that worries them. They know you can’t wait to go to your practice or your game. They understand what it means to you to put on your gear and wear your team’s jersey. Tournaments were coming, after the holidays, and you were dreaming about it, after almost two years that you haven’t done so.
I will not attempt trying to explain all the current issues of the pandemic. What I do know is that you need to take another break from your team for a while. I know it saddens you and probably angers you. Just as much as me, I swear to you. I know you were careful since the start of the season to respect the sanitary rules, so you wouldn’t have to stop playing again. This is the last thing you wanted. You feel like you’ve done your part, but it hasn’t worked. You know what; it’s okay to be disappointed and angry. You have the right. Your resilience from the start is incredible. I am convinced that your parents are really proud of you. They say that hockey players are good team players and you have proven it so far. One thing I learned from hockey: You only control what you can control. Maybe you’ve heard that before, maybe not? Still, you’re learning it the hard way now.
But you know what? Do not let go. Do not lose hope. We are going to cross our fingers very hard so that you can find your team as quickly as possible. I know this is what you want. In any case, I wish you so. I wish it for us! In hockey, you learn a lot that you apply throughout your life. We learn to work in a team, to set goals, to surpass ourselves and to live with failures and disappointments. You can tell me that you have experienced more disappointments for some time; I agree. But now is not the time to let go. We’re coming to the end of the game and we’re going to come out on top, I’m sure.
Until then, have as much fun as you can. Play outside, practice your shots, practice your moves. Watch over your teammates. Be a leader. Be a hockey player.
I wish you a happy new year 2022, you fully deserve it.
See you soon, I’m sure,
Hockey player, dad and general manager of Hockey Quebec