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The Triple Gold Club

April 25, 2016

I heard the phrase “The TriplJonathan Toews Stanley Cupe Gold Club” for the first time recently while watching the NHL playoffs. The International Ice Hockey Federation currently identifies 26 players and one coach who have won an Olympic gold medal, a World Hockey Championship gold, and a Stanley Cup championship as members. Obviously you are a winner if you are in this club – no one “lucked” into this group. Along with incredible hockey skill and talent, I think winning each of these three elite championships takes a slightly different set of leadership skills.

Stanley Cup – Perseverance & Discipline

A member of a Stanley Cup winning team will demonstrate qualities of perseverance and discipline. They endured a long season and then through two months (four rounds) of playoff series with the same 25-30 men and came out victorious. They worked day-to-day, drill-after-drill, and at times likely just gritted their teeth and fought through exhaustion, pain, and stressful situations. Their perseverance and discipline as individuals and as a team, both on and off the ice, was rewarded with the ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup.

Olympic Gold Medal – Focus & Flexibility

In contrast to the NHL season which is 82 games plus playoffs, the Olympic hockey tournament is two weeks long. While the players invited have elite level skill, they must be able to focus in a unique way on the ice, undistracted from anything. Some teams have gone so far as to not permit their players to see other parts of the Olympic competitions (eg. figure skating, skiing, etc). Others have simply insisted that when you are on the ice, whether for a practice or game, you are fully present. With only two weeks for a team to come together and a number of elite players, individuals who are normally top scorers on their team must be willing to play a secondary, even contrary role on this “all-star” team. The flexibility of individuals to play on a line with someone who is usually an opponent and to fulfill a different role is essential for a team to win Olympic gold.

World Hockey Championships – Resiliance

The World Hockey Championship take place each May, usually in Europe. NHL players selected by their country are those who are not in the NHL playoffs (or there team was eliminated in the first round). In other words, their season has come to a disappointing end. Yet the successful world hockey championship teams are those where players show a similar measure of flexibility, and focus (this tournament usually happens in about 3 weeks), and yet add to that resiliance. They must have the social/emotional intelligence to put the frustration of their NHL season behind them and enter the WHC with enthusiasm. They must come with an attitude that says, “Our team didn’t accomplish what we hoped to in the NHL, but now I have a great chance to play with a new group of guys and enjoy success in a total different atmosphere.” Interestingly, many players who may or may not have ever won a Stanley Cup or Olympic gold medal and yet took this attitude, look back on a WHC as a memory-making experience. The camraderie that develops and the success that binds you together is a career highlight in a different way than the other two victories.

Jonathan Toews is one member of the club and he describes each of these experiences as “different and special…” ultimately because you are a winner. If the organization you lead is going to success you tool will need to display all of these qualities at different times in your leadership.

For the full list of members, click here.

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