NHL players on how to stay positive in your daily life
*This article was published May 2018
NHLPA members Zach Hyman (Toronto Maple Leafs), Erik Gudbranson (Vancouver Canucks) and Zack Smith (Ottawa Senators) share their tips for having a positive outlook in your daily life.
Pro hockey players may experience ups and downs (both on and off the ice) throughout an NHL season. Sometimes, trying to keep it all in perspective — the good and the bad — can be a challenge. For Hyman, Gudbranson and Smith, trying to stay positive and look at the glass half full is important every day.
How do you stay positive in your daily life?
Hyman: “A big thing about staying positive is having self-confidence. The way I think you build that is on past success or embracing things you’re good at. If you play sports, you can be around your friends and feel positive about being part of a team.”
Gudbranson: “I always try to move on to the next day. It’s tough at times, but you realize a new day means things can get better. It’s important to try to put your mind in a positive state and have a positive outlook.”
Smith: “I think hobbies are really helpful. I came across a hobby a few years ago, which was woodworking. If I want to blow off a little steam, I’ll go into the garage and work in the shop and get my mind off whatever is bothering me, whether it’s hockey or an everyday life situation.”
Who do you turn to when you need support?
Hyman: “For me, personally, it’s my family. When you’ve had a bad game, it’s good to have people to lean on, to listen to you and make you realize you aren’t going through anything in life alone.”
Gudbranson: “There are times I’ll be down or upset at something and I’ll reach out to my teammates. I have a great girlfriend, too. She’s a great sounding board for me. All that matters is that it’s good to talk about it.”
Smith: “There’s a stereotype that men are supposed to be the strong, silent types and not talk about our feelings. I turn to my [family] if I ever need to talk. I had a billet when I played junior hockey — she was a social worker — so she’s really helped motivate me and helped me overcome any problems that I’ve had.”
What tips would you give to a young person who’s having a bad day?
Hyman: “I think it’s important to spend time with your family or friends, or maybe doing a hobby to give yourself a little space from a tough day. If you consume yourself with negativity and overthink things, it can make it a lot worse.”
Gudbranson: “It’s good to talk about things and get things off your chest. Just don’t keep it in — make sure you talk about it.”
Smith: “People are realizing that you can talk about things. Whatever issues you are facing (playing hockey, with your job or going to school, for example), I think it’s very important to step back and look at the big picture. If you need to talk to someone, you feel better once you get it out verbally.”
Finding your own ways to stay positive is important for your mental health and well-being. Remember to take time to do things you enjoy and ask for help if you need it. You can always talk to a parent/caregiver, friend or family member for support. Kids Help Phone’s counsellors are available 24/7 at 1-800-668-6868, too.
Kids Help Phone would like to thank Zach Hyman, Erik Gudbranson, Zack Smith, the NHLPA and Chris Lomon for this story!