What Motivates NHL Players?

What Keeps NHL Players In Compete Mode?

Twitter often sparks some interesting conversations and debates and this week was no different.

Local NHL.com scribe Patrick Williams floated out the following  tweet.  

Patrick Tweeted: 

It is an interesting question.  The Winnipeg Jets have been in the playoff race right until the last week of the season in their first two years in Winnipeg.  The way the Western Conference standings are looking it’s possible teams hovering around the .500 mark could be out of  it by Christmas.  This would definitely be new territory for Coach Noel and his players.  

I saw this Tweet and responded with:


 The obvious responses to Patricks tweet would probably be something like this ….

1.) “these players are professionals and they should show up every night no matter what”

2.) “they are playing for their jobs next year”

3.) “yada-yada”

I would like to think that there is always something to play for because most hockey players are just too competitive to pack it in.

AND if a team identifies a player packing it in the solution is obvious to me !!!  BACK UP THE TRUCK AND LOAD ‘EM UP and get ’em out of town.  I do not believe, nor do I want to believe, there would ever be one Winnipeg Jets player that would fit in that category.

When I look at the NHL standings I see three levels or tiers that would keep players motivated. 


Tier 1

Obviously, there are the top eight teams that are in a playoff position.  In the top eight, you will usually have approximately four or five teams solidly in the playoff hunt and then the other three or four “bubble teams” flip-flopping in and out with the second tier teams.

Tier 2

Then there is the next tier that are within a reasonable striking distance, lets say six to eight points out of eighth place.  

Tier 3

The last tier are the teams that are more than ten points out of the playoff race BUT maybe six to eight points out of the second tier.

All NHL players, especially the leaders on a hockey team, get to this level because they are uber competitive by nature.  They always think they have a chance until the Fat Lady sings and/or they are mathematically eliminated from contention.  That is just how elite athletes are wired.

At time of this article, the Winnipeg Jets are in the second tier along with Colorado, Phoenix, Dallas and Nashville.

That leaves Calgary and Edmonton in the third tier.  They will try to get themselves in second tier position by battling to reach the .500 mark as an attainable goal.  These are the little tricks and motivations that coaches and teams will challenge each other with to keep focused.  I really think that there is always some type of a “team goal” to play for.

I’m going to cling to the belief that the Winnipeg Jets players have enough pride in their Jersey, their teammates, the City of Winnipeg, their fans, their Coach and GM and their owners to play until the final buzzer no matter where they are in the standings.   


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