NHL players’ top tips for following your passion

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NHLPA members Darnell Nurse (Edmonton Oilers) and Paul Byron (Montreal Canadiens) talk about the importance of finding and following your passion.

As hockey players competing on the game’s biggest stage, Nurse and Byron are grateful to be living their childhood dreams. These NHLPA members also realize just how rewarding it is to find something you love by embracing it and putting your time, heart and energy into it.

“First and foremost, it has to be something that excites you each and every day,” said Nurse, who comes from an athletic family that has excelled in a variety of different sports. For example, his uncle, Donovan McNabb, was a star quarterback in the NFL, his father, Richard, played in the CFL and his sister, Kia, is a prominent Canadian basketball player for the New York Liberty.

“For me, hockey is something that brings a smile to my face every day I wake up. It’s something I’ve been passionate about since I was a young kid. But no matter what you want to chase as a goal — it doesn’t have to be a sport — when you have that passion, you can make that dream come true.”

It’s a powerful message both players want to convey to others.

“Life hasn’t really changed for me since I realized my dream of playing in the NHL,” said Byron. “I always focus on one day at a time. I just keep everything very simple and it’s always worked for me. The big key is to always stick with your passion, in good times and bad.”

For Nurse and Byron, discovering their passion and following it has been a life-changing experience. Here is what the players have to say about following your passion:

  •  Embrace it

“Whatever your passion is, you keep it with you always,” said Nurse. “Although not every day will be the greatest and there will be times when things are tough, as long as you have something you enjoy doing, it’s a very powerful thing.”

“Always enjoy putting in the time and effort in order to better yourself,” offered Byron, who has recorded consecutive 20-goal seasons. “Your passion shouldn’t be a job.”

  •  Dream big

“When you find something you are passionate about, believe in yourself and know that it can take you to great places,” said Nurse. “When you have a strong connection to something, it can change your life in so many ways.”

“For as long as I can remember, hockey is all I’ve ever wanted to do,” said Byron. “I always dreamt of being a hockey player. I never knew if I would play in the NHL, but my goal was always to use my ability and talents to go to university on a scholarship.”

  •  Enjoy yourself

“Try everything!” advised Nurse. “That’s a very important thing. In this day and age, you can get locked into a feeling of, ‘You have to do this or you have to do that.’ It’s not bad to go out and try out different things, to find something you really enjoy. If sports isn’t your thing, you can go into the arts, or maybe you’re good with numbers, or you enjoy books — there are so many different avenues you can take.”

“Make sure you enjoy doing whatever it is you are passionate about and it will go a long way into making those countless hours of practice feel like nothing,” noted Byron.

Exploring your skills and interests can help you finding something you love to do (e.g. a hobby, sport or other activity). Finding and following your passion is important for self-care, self-acceptance and self-esteem. Remember to embrace your talents, dream big and have fun while doing it!

Kids Help Phone would like to thank Darnell Nurse, Paul Byron, the NHLPA and writer Chris Lomon for sharing this story!

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