The news couldn’t have come at a worse time for Martin St. Louis.
With his New York Rangers facing a 3-1 series hole against the star-studded Pittsburgh Penguins, the realizations went from bad to worse as St. Louis received the tragic news of his mother’s death on May 8, just three days before Mother’s Day and one day before a win-or-go-home match in hostile territory.
Despite the news, St. Louis did the unthinkable and joined his team for game five. Subsequently, the New York Rangers did what all great teams have the tendency to do: rally around and embrace adversity. As fate would have it, the Rangers emerged victorious in the game and in the series, winning three straight to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Winning in any professional sport is a difficult task, and only one team in every league gets the desired end result each year. As much as the pundits and critics don’t want you to believe, sometimes it’s the intangibles that make the biggest difference.
After falling short in the AFC championship game and barely missing the Super Bowl in 2004, former Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis was ready to call it quits after over a decade searching for the one thing that every NFL player longs for: a Super Bowl ring. At the start of the NFL season in the 2005, Bettis told his teammates and coaches that after the season, he would be hanging up the cleats for good regardless of how things played out.
The Steelers managed to barely sneak into the playoffs that year as the sixth seed, won three games on the road and ended up hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in Bettis’ hometown of Detroit. A story that not even Hollywood could have written better, it just seemed like pure fate.
Sometimes a bit of adversity is all it takes to spark something great.
The beauty in the sports world lies not only in the teams we root for or the players we’ve grown to love, but the inspiration we draw from them and the ability for the unthinkable to happen, as if by fate.
In game one of the Eastern Conference Finals, the New York Rangers continued their hot streak, defeating the Montreal Canadiens 7-2, led by Martin St. Louis’ two points (one goal, one assist) that earned him the honor of first star. Since St. Louis received the tragic news, his team has failed to lose a single game.
Is there something special in the making this year with Martin St. Louis and the New York Rangers?
Let’s leave that up to fate.