3 Reasons Why Hockey Is About More Than Just Making It to the NHL

Ben LevesqueStories12 Comments

3 Reasons Why Hockey is About More Than Just Making it To the NHL

Making it to the NHL is every young boy’s dream.

It was mine, too.

Growing up, I gave the game everything I had—literally.

Thousands of hours on the ice.

Thousands more in the gym.

Early mornings, late nights, long bus rides across the country, countless injuries and a ton of blood, sweat—even tears.

Heck, I still have trouble lifting my arms over my head because my shoulders are shot.

Still, I didn’t make it.

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What a complete waste of energy that was.

Or was it?

If you judge based on outcome, sure—you can call my hockey career a failure. I never played a minute in the NHL.

In fact, I didn’t even come close.

But if you judge based on life experience, well then I’m a decorated champion.

That—to me—is worth more than anything in the world.

You see, there’s so much more to hockey than making it to the show. Sure, it’s the ultimate goal and I believe it should remain your ultimate goal as a hockey player.

There’s nothing I would have liked more than to make it and play alongside my childhood heroes…

But throughout my hockey career, I learned life skills that will take me further than the NHL ever could.

And that’s because hockey gave me the tools needed to succeed as an individual—not just as a hockey player.

Hockey helped build my character

Most importantly, hockey helped build my character.

It taught me the true definition of work-ethic.

There are no days off once you get to the competitive level. Every player in the league is trying to beat you. Trying to be better than you. Trying to take your spot.

Even your teammates.

Work ethic is the only way you get by, and I had to rely on it so much over my career that it’s now engraved in my character.

This work ethic shines through in all that I do now in my everyday life—all thanks to my hockey career.

Then there’s perseverance.

All the ups and downs I’ve experienced throughout my career have taught me the true definiton of perseverance.

From being a healthy scratch for a half-season to becoming an instrumental part of my team and later going on to win two championships, I’ve had to battle through a ton of adversity along the way.

I now know what it means to persevere beyond adversity.

This new sense of perseverance shines through in all that I do—all thanks to my hockey career.

Then there’s leadership.

Over the years and through the different challenges I’ve had the opportunity to face, I learned to rise up and lead.

I learned how to inspire others, making myself and everyone around me better.

This new acquired skill of inspiring others and helping them become better versions of themselves shines through in all that I do—all thanks to my hockey career.

But that’s not all hockey outside of the NHL did for me…

Hockey introduced me to life-changing people

Hockey put me in front of people that had the power to change my life.

Teammates. Coaches. Mentors. Fans. You name it.

So many people made a positive impact on my life which molded me into the person I am today.

Guy Boucher, one of my greatest mentors, taught me that there’s no point in ‘just good enough’—that I should strive for greatness.

I now strive for greatness every day.

The teammates I met along the way are some of the greatest individuals I’ve ever met.

I went to war with them. I shared laughs & tears with them, and even shed blood for them, because I knew they would do the same for me when the time came.

They were with me during the losses and upsets, and also during the highs when we held trophies above our heads together.

They helped me forge memories I will never forget, and each and every teammate I’ve met along the way has made an impact on my life in some way or another.

Some went on to play in the NHL—others became coaches, doctors, lawyers, accountants, business owners, and more.

Thanks to my hockey career, I have an amazing network of people I call my close friends, and I know they’re there to help me if I need something—they too, know that I am there for them when they need me.

With such a great support system, I cannot fail—and I have my hockey career to thank for that.

But that’s not all hockey outside of the NHL did for me…

Hockey gave me the opportunity to to do great things

Hockey gave me the opportunity to do things that some people only dream of.

Hockey allowed me to travel the world and see new places—i got to visit cities I never would have seen.

Hockey allowed me to write my name down in history—I engraved my name on two championship trophies, one being McGill’s first and only National Championship in over 130 years.

Hockey allowed me to earn a world-class education at the University of McGill—on a full scholarship.

And most importantly, hockey made me embrace competition. While I no longer compete in hockey, I treat every day like it’s game day—a chance to win and better myself as an individual.

This competitive mindset gave me the desire to go against the grain and start my own company fresh out of school.

Now I get to compete every day and help grow my business alongside my partners—my new teammates.


So no, I didn’t make it to the NHL.

But it all worked out in the end.

The point I’m trying to make here is this…

As a young player, you should definitely strive for the NHL. Who am I to tell you otherwise.

It was my dream too…

But just know that the game of Hockey will bring so much more to your life—regardless of whether or not you reach the NHL.

If you don’t make it, don’t feel defeated. The greatest game on earth has likely given you many tools & gifts you can use to make all aspects of your life exceptional.

What you’ll learn throughout your hockey career will give you such an edge over others in your every day life.

At job interviews…

In the office…

Facing tough challenges…

You name it.

Don’t be disappointed if you don’t make it.

Instead, just enjoy the ride.

Embrace what you learn along the way and run with it.

Who knows where it will take you.

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About the author

Ben Levesque

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Ben has been playing hockey for 20+ years and has learned a ton from playing with the world's best coaches & players. Among his accomplishments are a National Championship, a President's Cup, a Semi-Final finish at the Memorial Cup, several Queen's Cups and a helmet in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

12 Comments on “3 Reasons Why Hockey Is About More Than Just Making It to the NHL”

  1. Annabelle

    Wow great article.

    See I’m a female hockey player. I never played high level because my family didn’t have the money to put me into hockey when I was young. But I was still playing and skating around when I got the chance.

    Now I can play and I want to play at the highest level in my league. I’m working a lot on my skills, I’m training hard and everything. Still people thinks that I’m crazy and that it’s a waste of time.

    I’m 29. I’ll never play for team Canada or at an elite level but If I can manage to make it to the open division in my league (most competitive one) for me it will be mission accomplished.

    I have an anxiety disorder and hockey is the thing that kept me going forward during the last 6 years! Hockey helped me at beign proud of myself, knowing the importance to work hard and at believing in myself.

    For me hockey is way more than just a sport that you play once per week. It’s a passion.

    Oh btw even if I’m a Gatineau Olympics fan 🙂 I still remember you when you played major junior 🙂

    1. Ben Levesque

      Hey Annabelle! Thanks for the awesome comment! It sounds like Hockey is an escape for you. It’s the same for me 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the article, and super cool that you remember me from junior! Best of luck this season and get better every day!

  2. Eric picker

    Truer words can not be spoken.. brought me to tears.. especially just losing my beast friend who was big part of my hockey family… family that is what is all about.. and no family bigger than the hockey one

  3. Jim Jacobs

    Amen! Been saying this for years- once you know someone has played competitive hockey they are in “the club”….some parents just cannot see the forest through the trees here…

  4. Patricia

    Dear Ben;
    This article has brought me to TEARS!!
    I am a single parent who has a son who has loved and played the sport of hockey since the age of five. I TRULY agree with you when you state that playing this sport is far more than making it to the NHL. My son has traveled far beyond anything I could have afforded. And he has made host of friends or as he states family members around the world. Hockey has influenced his life on AND off the ice. Who would have thought that stopping a puck could mold and shape young man’s life? I sure didn’t.

    1. Ben Levesque

      Patricia, thank you so much for your kind words! I’m glad you enjoyed it—minus the tears, sorry about that :). Hockey really is a life changer. I’m sure what he’s experienced and learned along the way will turn him into a fine young man one day.

  5. Scott

    I like that you point out that one of the benefits of playing hockey is that it teaches you a good work-ethic. I can see why having to train and go to practice would help you learn to work hard. Looking back, I realize now that playing any kind of competitive sport has helped me learn and grow in different ways. I’ll definitely remember this as my children get older and want to get involved with sports.

  6. Cary

    Thank you for this article. My youngest son plays elite level hockey and is ten years old. My twelve year old son plays c level town hockey and plays for fun. I’m gonna use your article as a reference in court. My ex wife is trying to hold back my boys from playing because it interrupts her life and she can’t or won’t see the benefits to the greatest game on earth for them. My boys LOVE playing and as long as they continue to do well in school there is no reason they can’t continue to play. Again great article

    1. Ben Levesque

      Hey Cary…I have to say that’s a first! I really hope it helps you out 🙂 Thanks for your comment and best of luck! Hockey definitely is the greatest game on earth.

  7. Graham

    Hi Ben,

    Great article!!! I’m new to hockey as an adult and loving it, but played golf as a kid and have a similar sounding story. Thousands and thousands of hours and no PGA Tour to show for it. But…….just like you, a treasure trove of life lessons, a college scholarship and a perseverance and dedication that suits me very well in my day job.

    Keep up the great work and the points will come 🙂 I got my first point EVER last game. Pretty sure it was a blocked shot that went to my center who fed a winger for a breakaway goal. Kinda like an 80’s Oilers PP goal that went in off the screener’s butt. But, just like golf, they only ask how many and you don’t have to draw a picture…..

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