Ron Francis: Hurricanes' Quest for the Cup

Ron Francis, whose jersey was retired by the Hurricanes earlier this year after a 23-year hockey career, will blog exclusively for WRAL.com about the 'Canes bid for the Stanley Cup.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

The Chase Begins

Well, here we are. It finally starts today. The Hurricanes chase of the Stanley Cup once again begins today after 4 long years. I'm sure everyone is both excited and nervous as to what lays ahead. As nervous and excited as you are, imagine the players. After a long summer of conditioning, training camp, exibiton games, and then 82 regular season games, finally they get the opportunity to compete for the cup. The ultimate dream for every hockey player that ever laced up a pair of skates.
As exciting as this time of year is for the players it is also the most demanding. Physically and mentally the chase for the cup is the most emotional roller coaster ride out there in pro sports. You understand that if you lose, it's over. All the hard work, all the success you enjoyed during the regular season means nothing, all you have is bitter disapointment and another 10 months of hard work ahead of you to hopefully get a chance to compete for the cup again next year. So as a result, you know that you have to give everything you have every night, leave it all out there on the ice. That's the easy part. The hard part is that you have to find a way to elevate your game to the highest level possible not for one game, not for a week or so, but instead you will have to find a way to raise your game to it's highest level, potentially, every second day, for hopefully 2 months. You will have to play with injuries, and with pain, and that's the easy part. Mentally you have to prepare for just about everything possible. Making sure you are getting the proper nutrition, hydrating your body with the right fluids to help replace those 4-10 lbs. of mostly water weight you will lose every game are an absolute must. Preparing yourself for your opposition is aslo very important. What are their strenghts/weaknesses, do any of them have certain tendencies that they will consistently use, which guys are shooters/passers, is there a certain way the centermen take draws, special teams, the goalies strenghts/weaknesses, the list goes on. There is also a different kind of pressure that comes with playoff hockey. You expect more from yourself, you expect more from your teammates, so do the fans, so do the media, and all these things factor in on your ability to succeed. If things are going well, there is nothing better, if things aren't it seems like the world in on your shoulders. If things are going well, when the game ends, you get a bite to eat, replace your fuids, and climb into bed to get some rest. You might replay some of the game in your head before peacefully falling off to sleep. If things are not going well, you still eat and get your fluids, but when you climb into bed, you replay the whole game in your head, and revisit all those things I mentioned earlier about preparing for the oppenent to try and see where you might change things to help your team find success, and before you know it your still awake at 3-4-5 in the morning. Think about it, you have to elevate your game both physically and emotionally to the highest level possible to play the game, then immediately after it's over you have to replace fluids, eat, and try and bring yourself down from that emotional high of the game and get as much rest as you can because in less than 48 hours you are going to have to do it all over again, and this hopefully is something you get to do for 2 whole months. And that doesn't even factor in the possibility that you are doing this with at least some amount of physical pain.
For the first time since I retired, I wouldn't mind being out on the ice tonight when the chase begins. Put your seatbelts on, it is one hec of a ride!

9 Comments:

  • At 4/22/2006 12:55 PM, Blogger djhockeynut said…

    What can I say? We all love Ronnie and wish he was going to be out there leading the Canes too! It is at least a comfort to know that the Great Ron Francis will be watching intently and silently cheering on his friends and team mates. We all miss you Ronnie!

    DJ the hockey nut

     
  • At 4/22/2006 1:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks Ron. for insight into the mind & body of the pro athlete. I think all non athletes know that it takes dedication of time, diet, and mental direction that most of us are not willing or able to invest. We look forward to your thoughts, and wish for our sake you were still out there.

     
  • At 4/22/2006 1:36 PM, Anonymous Kim said…

    Mr. Francis, who or what has impressed you the most about this season's Canes? And who on either team do you think has the potential to break out as a game-changer, other than maybe the usual suspects?

    By the way, I will greatly miss watching you out there on the ice tonight, too! Thanks for doing the blog!

     
  • At 4/22/2006 2:32 PM, Blogger Ron Francis said…

    Hey all, thanks for the comments and to answer your question Kim, on the Canes justin Williams has looked all year like he is ready to get to the next level and for the Habs, if Richard Zednik puts it all together--watch out.

     
  • At 4/22/2006 9:39 PM, Blogger Brian said…

    Hey Ronnie,

    First of all, let me say that I miss seeing you out there on the ice - you're the reason I became a hockey fan to begin with.

    I just finished listening to Chuck call the disappointing loss in game one on the radio. What adjustments do you think the Canes need to make to better handle the Canadiens for the balance of the series?

     
  • At 4/23/2006 12:40 AM, Blogger Ron Francis said…

    Well, that was unexpected. Before I get into my observations, let me start by answering the question I think is on most of your minds. Yes, I start Martin Gerber in game 2 Monday. Though he will receive a lot of the blame, I dont't feel he deserves all of it. There were a lot of mistakes in front of him. I think he would be the first guy to tell you he needs to play better and he can, but tonight was one of those days at the office when nothing went right. Guys falling down at the wrong time, turnovers in the defensive zone,bad special teams, goals going in off the post, they were all part of tonight's end result. Some nights things are bad and tonight was definitely one of those nights. Let's hope we got them all out tonight. Give the Canadiens credit also, they played a solid, simple, but effective game. They were a little rattled with the early goal against them but settled down to play a great game. The playoffs are hard enough without helping to beat yourself, and in this game the Canes help do just that. A crucial turning point was in the 2nd period when the Canes had a great chance to get back into the game with a 5 on 3. Not only did they not score, but right after the power play expired, the Canadiens went down on a breakaway and scored. Game over. This was only one game of potentially seven and there is a lot of hockey left to be played, but you don't want to head back to Montreal down 2-0.

     
  • At 4/23/2006 1:32 AM, Blogger Stormbringer said…

    Ever since I started being obsessed with hockey, I have always had an admiration for those who play it because I figured how much it wore on the body AND mind. And even though I do not always agree with ESPN (quite a bit, as one can see in my blog), a year or two ago, they did a fantastic article on the sports that are the most strenuous physically. And skating in at #2 was hockey, right behind boxing…no real shock there IMHO.

    Anyway, what you said makes me have greater respect for the players of hockey. I know you have truly been there and done that with having to play hurt, in addition to everything else. I remember reading somewhere about how you had to wear a flak suit during the 1986 Stanley Cup Playoffs because of broken ribs. And I simply cannot imagine how that experience must have been…incredible stuff.

    That is the sort of stuff that makes hockey a sport unlike any other, IMO. You do not hear as much, if at all about players playing hurt in football and basketball. Not to mention how hockey is one of the finest displays of teamwork of all sports, right down to the goal celebrations. And that leads me to a question: How do you feel about the possibility of shootouts in future Stanley Cup Playoffs?

     
  • At 4/24/2006 8:58 AM, Anonymous janet from cb said…

    Hopefully the home ice jinx we saw last night (4 out of 4 losing )doesn't hold true tonight! It's already looking interesting!Good luck tonight ,Canes!And having you,Ron, do this Blog is almost as good as having you back on the ice!(Nah,I take that back !)Greetings from Cape Breton !!

     
  • At 4/24/2006 9:00 AM, Anonymous janet from cb said…

    Hopefully the home ice jinx we saw last night (4 out of 4 losing )doesn't hold true tonight! It's already looking interesting!Good luck tonight ,Canes!And having you,Ron, do this Blog is almost as good as having you back on the ice!(Nah,I take that back !)Greetings from Cape Breton !!

     

Post a Comment

<< Home