We are only human.
I have to remind myself that sometimes. Especially when things happen that are out of my control, I desperately wish I could make an impact. I do question just how human John Tavares is when he scores two hat tricks in a given week. Though, I then remember that his talents are off the charts and even Superman has weaknesses from time to time.
The Islanders can’t win a game with one player. They won some big games in October and lost some tough ones but, they stuck together. There were big wins against the Rangers and Predators, as well as lopsided losses in Columbus and Minnesota. Those games are the humbling reminders that when things go wrong on the ice for a team, they can really go wrong.
Throughout the last month, I was reminded that players and coaches are human too, and I wanted to share some of my behind the scenes takeaways from these personal interactions.
After the game against the Wild on Oct. 26, I had a knot in my stomach. I wasn’t sure how Doug Weight would respond in his postgame comments about the team’s loss. When he stepped in to answer my questions, I knew it would be an emotional interview. He was really mad and disappointed in how his team played. But I was relieved to hear his answers.
It was refreshing for a coach to be emotional on camera. The fans at home were disappointed and felt connected to what Weight was saying. It made him human and his answers came across as genuine.
I’ve learned that he is pretty candid about the Isles. When they play well, he will praise them. When they make mistakes, he’s not going to cover it up. I respect that and feel like it makes him relatable and likable to the fans, media and players alike.
Fast forward to Nashville two nights later, the Isles had one of their most complete games of the season. They beat the defending Western Conference champions. It was a fun game to watch and to cover. The mood on the bus and plane heading back to New York was light. Though it wasn’t the Tavares hat trick or the six goals the team scored that I found most memorable that night, it was an interaction in the stands after the game.
I heard a few of the players’ parents were in town and I wanted to say a quick hello before heading to the airport. I was thrilled to see Anders Lee’s Mom and Dad, as well as Mr. and Mrs. Boychuk. John and Audrey travel throughout the season to a few road games and usually bring some friends and extended family along the way. They walked proudly through Honky Tonk Row sporting their signed Johnny Boychuk jerseys. They will talk to anyone who says hello and they still look as proud of Johnny as the day he made his NHL debut.
As everyone started to say their goodbyes, I caught a moment between Johnny and his Mom. She was hugging him so close and whispering in his ear. She didn’t let go for what felt like a long time. My gut instinct was to take a picture and send it out on Twitter or Instagram, but I stopped myself. This was a special moment. A touching interaction between mother and son. It felt intrusive to photograph but important to share. The players are not that different than we are. They have families and friends. They have good days at work and bad ones, too. They too are human.
I think as fans and even as people, it’s important to remember that there is a human aspect to everything. We can’t tackle life alone. The Isles had their best start to the season winning seven games in October, which happened for the first time since the 2001 season (when they won nine). They accomplished this by working together, trusting each other, and coming together as a team.