As the Pittsburgh Penguins navigated their way through the National Hockey League Playoffs, it was not uncommon to see former Steelers Brett Keisel or Heath Miller in the crowd. Also spotted at Consol Energy Center were guys like Vince Williams and Rob Goldon as well Antonio Brown and even Steelers’ Head Coach Mike Tomlin.
Safety Ross Ventrone even created hype videos throughout the postseason, culminating with this gem from his Instagram:
While Tomlin certainly doesn’t need to know how to win a championship, that doesn’t mean he and his players can’t learn something from the Penguins who went on to win their fourth Stanley Cup however.
Those of you who are fans of the Pens don’t need much of a refresher on how the season unfolded but if you don’t know, it wasn’t exactly all “one long magical season.” There were doubts about the Pens. There were huge questions about the team’s chances with a less than 100% Marc-Andre Fleury in goal and even questions about his replacement Matt Murray even in the Finals. There were also the usual doubters of Sidney Crosby and certainly there were those who wondered if Coach Mike Sullivan could actually win a Cup with this team.
Doubts, fears and pessimism are all normal things for any team as a long, grueling season moves on and the Steelers often go through this as well. If Tomlin and company are to glean anything from what their friends on frozen water did then the two things that come to mind are patience and perseverance.
Mike Tomlin uses a lot of cliches when he speaks to the press and I’m quite certain he uses them when addressing his team as well. One item in particular is “not living in our fears.” This is where both patience and perseverance come in.
With Martavis Bryant already gone for the season and Le’Veon Bell still rounding into form from his season-ending injury last year, the team is already dealing with adversity. Football coaches by nature thrive on motivating their teams with this and Tomlin is no different. He can point to the Penguins’ comeback from three to two down against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals as the ultimate example of “adversity.”
By the time players reach the NFL, they have all no doubt faced adversity and a need for patience during their collegiate or high school careers but that doesn’t mean those things still can’t be used as lessons.
As the Steelers head into a season in which much is expected of them, there will be moments that try their resolve. They need look no further then their friends who just had the parade for guidance.