Confidence is a collective agreement

DAVID W. UNKLE -- For SLAM! Sports

, Last Updated: 11:54 AM ET

PHILADELPHIA — In a game of numbers, it’s the 0-13-1 albatross that the Philadelphia Flyers carry around their neck, just 25 games into the 2006-07 season.

The tally represents the Flyers’ record when trailing at the second intermission in games this season, including Wednesday night’s 3-2 loss to the Nashville Predators.

“Earlier in the year, we would’ve been cooked (by the second intermission), because we didn’t have the jam to try and come back and make it a game,” said Knuble after the Flyers wasted a game-tying, third period goal by R.J. Umberger.

Confidence, according to Knuble, plays a part in the team’s woes this season.

“You have believe that you can do the job if you get the chance, that you’re in the right places on the ice to be defensively responsible,” said Knuble.

“You have to (also) believe in your teammates, that they’ll make the right plays and they’ll be in the right spots. Right now, it’s a mentality among the players; it’s one thing to say it, but it’s another to thing to go out there and do it.”

In the New York Times' bestseller, “Confidence: How Winning Streaks & Losing Streaks Begin & End,” Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, states that “self-confidence is not the real secret of leadership — the more essential ingredient is confidence in other people.”

Flyers' head coach John Stevens was quoted after a recent home-loss as saying: “We need more from everybody collectively. There are nights when we have a group of guys going, but even if you have a couple of guys, it’s still not good enough.

“There has to be peer pressure, there has to be ownership for the group, or it’s never going to get better. Even if one guy’s not going, it can cost you the hockey game.”

According to Professor Kanter, “leaders must cut off the bad behaviors, and not permit complaining, whining, or blaming somebody else.

“It takes strong leadership to bring people out of a losing streak. Without that, the bad behaviors make the (losing) streak worse.”

While it appears Kanter is advocating for a cheerleader in the Flyers’ dressing room, nothing could be further from the truth.

“That’s why pep talks aren't effective unless they are based on real evidence,” writes Kanter. “While we all like to hear positive words, a pep talk without evidence is empty, and people see right through it.”

Kanter also dispels the belief that it’s the captain’s responsibility or the head coach's to right the ship.

“Winning streaks are associated with not just one, but many leaders — a nested series of leaders, like the Russian dolls in which each doll opens to reveal another identical, but smaller doll inside.”

One of those leaders is Simon Gagne, who recently acknowledged that, "everybody has a role here, and we all know it. When we do it, we’re a good team, and when we don’t do it, we’re a bad team.

“You go out (on the ice) and you’re scared to make mistakes, but it's part of the game. You have to battle through it and find a way to win some hockey games. You’re a hockey player and that’s your job…you need to find it."

Knuble added: "Eventually all the threats and the (player and management) changes are made…there are no more fingers to point. It’s the players on the ice that need to find a way to achieve.”

The Flyers have five days off following games against the New York Islanders on Thursday, and the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 2.

That’s plenty of time for Stevens to catch up on his reading.

David Unkle can be reached at: topcatsports@canoemail.com


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