Respect and responsibility.
Two character traits that are a necessity to be successful in life. Yet, they are two traits often left at home when hockey players, coaches and fans head to the rink.
Former NHL great Bobby Orr is in Winnipeg this weekend to preach that message to budding players in order to change the face of the game in years to come.
"It's about teaching values, teaching the fundamentals of the game," Orr said yesterday morning before taking to the ice with 100 youngsters. "Our message is very simply with our Chevrolet Safe and Fun Program - every kid that wants to play our game should be able to in a safe and fun environment.
"We try to get across to the kids to be respectful at all times, whether it be at home, at the rink, at school ... Hopefully, because they are aged five to eight, they are impressionable and remember what we say."
'CIRCLE OF LIFE'
The program goes way beyond just teaching skills, says Orr, who is now an NHL agent.
"It's kind of like a circle of life," Orr said. "The coach is on the bench. Of course the kids are on the bench, fans in the stands, parents in the stands and officials. That circle has to work together to make sure that minor hockey is approached properly. If one of those links breaks, there is going to be a problem."
It only takes a brief look through any sports sections to see how athletes can be lead down a dark path.
"When these kids start reading papers or watching television, are those the values (they should see)?" Orr questioned after pointing out numerous athletes in hot water such as Tour de France winner Floyd Landis and jailed former NHLer Mike Danton.
While some parents go ballistic to make sure their child has every advantage, Orr has some very simple advice for parents to make sure their child succeeds to their fullest potential.
"If you think your kid is going to be the one, just do everything right," Orr said. "It's not that complicated ... This is a marathon, not a sprint. I was finished playing at 29. Those same things I learned while playing minor hockey about respect, responsibility, being a good teammate in sports, I've applied those to my business ever since I retired 30 years ago.
"Less than 1% of kids playing minor hockey even play a game in the NHL. It's outrageous. So if you have the one that does, it's a big bonus."
Any young player can make it to the NHL, which could explain why some parents choose their action so irresponsibly.
"I think (parents) get caught up in winning," Orr said, "They think there is more at stake in a peewee hockey game. There are cases when they read about these lucrative deals. They think by pushing their son it will get him there. If anything, it will turn him off the game. It's ridiculous what goes on in some places."