Jam and gelly

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 3:05 PM ET


 Only a handful of Calgary Flames can flash proof of knowing just how hard it is to win a Stanley Cup ring.

 Martin Gelinas, Stephane Yelle, Chris Simon, Steve Reinprecht and Roman Turek are the only active Flames who own the cherished jewelry that symbolizes hitting the tape in one of sport's most grueling marathons.

 Each won a Cup before arriving in Calgary with Gelinas earning his only ring in 1990 with the Edmonton Oilers, despite toiling

 14 NHL seasons with five clubs.

 He argues it's the mental approach that separates champions from also-rans when the arduous regular-season schedule turns into best-of-seven fights for your life in the playoffs, with the payoff not arriving until June.

 "There are some games where you feel tired but you've got to block that out because this is where the mental preparation comes in," offers the 33-year-old Gelinas, who also made it to Cup finals with Vancouver and Carolina.

 "You have to block that out and go out there and play like you feel awesome.

 "Everybody's fit in the playoffs, you know the other team's system and everybody knows what you have to do to win but it comes down to who is going to be the strongest, who's going to be the best prepared player. That's going to make the difference."

 In Game 4 of the Hurricanes' second-round series against Montreal in 2002, Gelinas and Co. were 20 minutes away from going down three games to one but came back to win in overtime.

 The 'Canes then marched to a pair of easy wins over the Habs before rolling right on through to the Stanley Cup final.

 "I learned that things change rapidly, that you can be down three games and come back and win a series. You can never give up," Gelinas explains.

 "I learned that you have to be consistent in your approach to the game, make sure that as individuals you're fully prepared and you want to go out there and be the difference every shift.

 "You have to approach it that way. Every shift is different, every shift can turn a game around.

 "One good shift can change the momentum in a game and those are the kinds of things that can inspire a teammate to do something great, so you want to make sure you're fully prepared every shift. This is what playoff hockey is all about. One shift could make it happen or it could cost you, so this is where the mental aspect comes into play."

 Gelinas suggests championship teams are never comprised of just a group of talented players performing individually.

 He says successful playoff teams work together, allowing them to defeat even more skilled squads.

 "You need the goaltending and a scoring touch but ultimately you have to be successful as a team working hard and, when we do that, we put the odds in our favour to win," Gelinas says.

 "Before every playoff game, you don't know what the outcome is going to be. They're preparing themselves well too, but if you prepare well as a team, you give yourself the best chance to be successful.

 "Mental preparation is one thing but you have to make the sacrifices on the ice. You have to be ready to block a shot take a huge hit to get the puck out, this is what you have to do. Put everything on the line."


Videos

Photos