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Because It's the Cup

Because It’s the Cup

When individuals and teams have great regular seasons and play-offs begin, there is always the comment: “The season starts now". There is truth to the statement: "Because it's the Cup, everyone’s season starts over and the word now is very important." The words: “What’s important now” become even more important. Teams go through the regular season and a value is placed on how teams or individuals finish their season; winning, losing, scoring, defensively, offensively, hard to play against, easy to play against, etc, etc. 

The Goalie factor is huge because they are capable of stealing or losing games and series on their own. Their goal is to make all the regular saves and enough spectaculars. While nice to have a good regular season, play-offs is a new season.

There are basically four seasons in hockey: Training mode in the summer that gives you a psychological advantage over your opponent because you did more, exhibition season in the fall for game conditioning, timing and winning jobs; regular season and Stanley Cup Play-offs. 

Make the play-offs and the player's and team's mind-set takes over. The culture of each organization plays a role. Nothing else matters. The first words that enter the mind are charisma, compete, composure, courage, creativity, converting in critical moments. With effort and skill threshold a given, the mind plays the biggest role when you are required to execute in a critical moment or get in to someone's head.

The difference is inches, attention to detail is paramount; boldness, courage, determination and try are ingredients. Initiate versus retaliate is the rule of thumb. Enforcers literally have no role because each person will have their courage and fortitude levels challenged and they better have an answer.

Because it’s the Cup, the game is different. Pests take their pest level to another level, more players add the word pest to their arsenal and that bothers some on the opposing team. One way to beat a pest is to think like a pest. They do not go away on their own so ignoring them is not the answer to the situation.

Players and teams are defined by how they execute in a critical moment. Smart coaches get more players involved in the rush because coverage is so great. Team offense and team defense are more predictable than star power and there is no room on any team for players who squeeze the stick in critical moments or fail to bring it every night. Pack mentality comes to the forefront. You can visibly see teams with a pack mentality; everyone is all in. Happiness for the success of teammates is magnified.

Offensive players become more detailed away fm the puck and defensive players do what they do and try to chip in. Level of caring and try is exposed every shift. The Cup is the time for pecking orders to get altered in each game and series. Cups have been won many times by players choosing to alter the pecking order and be the one. The rule book becomes a guideline; making each situation more difficult. The Cup is more like an organized playground setting. Emotions run high and need to be controlled. Purging both negatives and positives is a skill and mind-set that must be acquired.

Offensive teams become more detailed defensively; defensive teams struggle coming fm behind because it takes talent and creativity to generate offense. Generating offense is a unique individual and team skill that can be taught.

Hockey is three games in one. Teams need a game without the puck, game with the puck and they need to be hard to play against both offensively and defensively. Teams need all three or they don’t go very far in their “Quest for the Cup”. Every shift has potential to be a story while every period and game is a story in itself. The stories are not limited to the stars.


  • Copyright by Chuck Grillo, Minnesota Hockey Camps, 24621 So Clark Lake, Rd P.O. Box 90, Nisswa, MN 56468-0090 Phone 218.963.2444 Fax 218.963.2325


Tribute to Con Murphy

Tribute to Con Murphy

Con Murphy

The hockey world has lost another quality person. Conrad R Murphy passed on March 29, 2017. For those who did not know him up close and personal, you missed out on someone special.. Death has a way of bringing back memories that we will revisit many times over as we think of Con. There are all kinds of ways to define greatness but count us in as one who believes greatness stands alone and you do not have to reach the highest pinnacle to be great. Con was a professional mentor who achieved greatness and was an even better person.

 One word comes to mind when we think of you, Con. The word is "love". The word is etched in stone because you have always been honest, loyal, respectful and trustworthy in our partnership. I say Partnership because this is what we were. Every bit of what we have together has been earned and proven to each other. Never once did I see us as head coach and assistant coach. We were partners who were different in many ways but focused on what was right for our players for all the right reasons. The players came first and our families understood that. The beauty of it all is our work included bus drivers, banana band, cheerleaders, staff and student body who became extended family and had each other’s backs. 

We were able to show them that success and winning is the byproduct of honesty, loyalty, respect and trust fueled by a love and passion for the game, life and all we did.

 We were two people working together for a common cause with one pulse and we encouraged those in our care to study great people if they wanted to be a success story in life. Hope and belief were fueled by hard and smart work with a serious dose of commitment and determination. We were spontaneous in our decisions because no situation with students is a scheduled event. Our primary goal was all of us creating a better version of ourselves and we accomplished this.

 To say I've been blessed as a coach and educator in Bemidji is an understatement. I had three unbelievable partners in you (Hockey), Desi Sagedahl (Baseball) and Ralph Vonasek (Industrial Education) and there were more. What a great school with a great staff and a community who cared; all of this fueled by people like Con Murphy. Our wives and kids were all part of the package; even our parents took part. Our relationship has stood the test of time even though our lives have gone in different directions since our Bemidji days. Every partnership has two winners or no winners. Ours is win - win and we won in a lot of ways; most importantly our players becoming productive citizens who can pass an authenticity test in real life and care.

 Your son, Brian, came to us during the summer months and is still ranked as an employee that will never be beat in any way. He can only be matched; an extension of his upbringing. He set the standard for Pro Shop employees and remains friends with our kids as we write.

 Your wife, Geri, said it best: “We grew up together as professionals. Our kids grew up together and are still in touch. We went through a lot of highs and lows together; most of it highs.”

 We instilled belief, boldness, caring, charisma, confidence, compassion, compete, courage, determination, respect for what each teammate brought to the mix, lots of try and a will to win. Everything we did was driven by intangibles. Together we created an attitude, brand and culture that set the standard for expectations out of those we mentored.

  This is the way life is supposed to work; a life with purpose, reason and substance but always remaining ordinary and fun. We encouraged creativity in critical moments and the finished products were people who were unafraid to express themselves when it counted most.

 They had the skill to fit in, the skill to express their skills and the skills to figure things out in a split second when they couldn’t rely on a parent or coach’s manual. They did everything hard and smart; they were intense but energy efficient. You were the catalyst for making this happen. The coolest thing is much of what we did together became part of the foundation for our futures; something I’ve been able to build on in our Template for Success program @ MHC. All of what we did is still useful at our summer camp and we certainly use it when mentoring campers and staff. You and Ralph were there with Herb Brooks the first night we opened and I will always respect the Bemidji Fish Fry Crew for showing and performing; knowing you guys pushed for it.

 Partnerships like ours stay with us forever and for that I am eternally grateful. We are in a position to take the partnership with us when the Lord decides to call us home.

 God bless you and your family and know how grateful we were to see you, Geri and Brian at Claire's funeral on March 4, 2017.

 Love you, my friend and partner, and love your family. Rest in peace knowing you are as good a detail person, one who cared about others before any personal gains, as any we’ve met at any time in our lives.

 Chuck “Gringo” Grillo

Honored to Partner with Con Murphy

Clairene Grillo's passing; thank you for heartwarming response

Clairene Grillo's passing; thank you for heartwarming response

Every Moment is a Teaching Moment

Social media is a wonderful way to communicate and spread news. We had a very heartwarming response fm so many people when Clairene Grillo passed on that we decided to write one response to all and use it as a teaching moment for those who attend, have attended and will attend Minnesota Hockey Camps. First and foremost, we read every one of your comments and we realize there are more coming.. You, taking time to comment, show that you have the greatest intangible one can acquire. You sincerely care. In many cases, you were simply reciprocating for enjoying your experiences with Claire, some with us as a team, and Minnesota Hockey Camps. In all cases, this was deeply appreciated because this is her moment. Keep in mind, we know there are others who sincerely care and have their way of closure without saying or writing a word and we respect that.

Our daughter, Tracy, and I were talking about the word “care” yesterday simply because it comes to the forefront during moments like this. We felt it should be family taught @ a young age and it should be reinforced in the school system and co-curricular activities. Intangibles, to me, are like an elective in school. You have the Basic English, Math and Science, but none of this works for our children unless they acquire all of the intangibles required to succeed in life. Intangibles give our children a way to express their knowledge and skill set. They drive your mindset, which drives your skill-set. One cannot perform/work to the maximum without the other. They maximize each other. Take some time to teach them, “How life really works”.

Unconditional care for others is easy to teach, especially if there are so many examples in the family. Teachers creating an awareness of the importance of caring are doing their students a huge favor. When athletes give back they will raise their game. Feeling good about yourself pumps your heart. When your heart is pumped you will see positive results. There is no better feeling than you feeling good about you. There is no better feeling than creating a better version of you. Life and performance will be greatly enhanced.

Do yourself a huge favor and write down all of the intangibles required for success; then rate yourself on each. Be sure to put the finishing touches on all of them with the following:

Skill to fit in.

Skill to express your skill.

Skill to figure it out when it’s not in your parents or coach’s manuals.

Rate your purpose, reason and substance levels while being ordinary and fun.

What is your intensity level and are you energy efficient?

Do you do everything hard and smart?

Do you get up each morning with the intention of doing something out of the ordinary; recognizing that it’s human nature to get up and be who we are? What is your authenticity level?

What is your humor level; especially in adverse situations?

Are you interested in creating a better version of you?

How long does it take you to care? Is it unconditional or forced?

I was given a small box of three (3) chocolates the other night by a young squirt hockey player at a small gathering. The power of this gesture will do more for this young man than he can imagine. The joy in my eyes while receiving showed him there is an importance to giving. I will guarantee you he will play better the next time he goes on the ice; especially if he is aware of how this works and affects the human mind. He will also do better in school. Thanks, Gage.

I decided to leave the gathering @ my first opportunity and write this; thinking of all the people who took time to care; whether bringing something, writing something, calling, texting, praying or doing something in their own way. They will all do better @ what they do because of it and they certainly will see a better version of their self.

Simply put; this is how life works! Caring, giving and sharing have the power to change your life in a positive way. When you embolden those in your care, this is the highest level of caring and doesn’t cost you a cent. Clairene Grillo was an expert quietly doing this when in her presence. I, and thousands of others, are the beneficiaries.

By the way, the chocolates didn’t last very long in the heart shaped Valentine Day box.