What can businesses learn from Hockey?

What can businesses learn from Hockey?

And what can you as a business owner and recruiter learn?

Business CoachThere is an interesting trend in Hockey that may surprise you. 36% of players drafted into the NHL in the past 30 years or so were born in the first quarter of the year. Less that 15% were born in the last quarter. But… and this is a big but, those who were born in the last quarter were far more likely to have a successful career – like having over 400 games played or 200+ points scored. These guys were drafted, on average, 40 spaces behind their first quarter rivals.

OK, that is interesting but why does it happen?

This is called “selection bias” and there are some important lessons to learn here. So let’s have a look at the Smith family.


George Smith, the father, played Hockey for 2 years as a professional in the NHL. Unfortunately, he had his career cut short due to an injury. Mary is now a stay at home mom, but she is no slouch. She was an athlete all her life having made the national Gymnastic team. George and Mary have two children, Joe and Jim. Joe was born on Jan 2 and his brother Jim was born almost a year later on Dec 28. As the family lives in Canada and the father was a professional hockey player, it was only natural that George and Mary signed the boys up for hockey at an early age. And as they were both born in the same calendar year, both boys ended up on the same team. This was great for Mary as she only needed to make one trip to the rink to drop the kids off for practice and games. George and Mary are very proud of their children.

Joe’s experience

Joe was consistently one of the top goal scorers in the league and seemed to be heading for a career as a professional hockey player. He practiced hard, as much was expected of him. He was going to take after his dad and was told not to waste his “natural” talent. In practice, if he was having trouble mastering a certain skill, like doing face-offs, the coach would patiently work with him until he “got” it. If he had questions about how a play was to develop, the coach would answer his questions patiently and in detail. Joe got more ice time than the other players due to his productivity. The crowds cheered when he got the puck as he was an exciting player to watch, even as a youngster.

Jim’s experience

Jim had a bit of a different experience. He admired his older brother but he could just not do the things that Joe did. Joe was much stronger and the coaches seemed to pay a lot of attention to him. Jim worked hard but he just did not have the same natural talent. He was largely ignored by the coaches. It got worse when the boys both turned 12. Joe was placed in an elite division that had a higher level of coaching to train the gifted youngsters. Jim missed playing hockey with his brother at practice. Since the father was such an enthusiast, he would always build an ice rink outside the family home. The mother always said that if you just work hard, you can go anywhere and do anything you want. Jim would practice for hours on the ice. He would line up 20 pucks and shoot at targets on the net. Every summer, the family would spend hours playing road hockey together.

Draft Day

Eventually the boys were old enough to get noticed by scouts from the NHL. Joe was identified as a definite candidate. He was a top goal scorer and well known in hockey circles. Jim was noticed as well; although,  he was noticed because of his brother and father. Draft day comes and Joe is drafted in the first round. Jim is drafted too, but he was almost the last pick. He is drafted to the same team as his older brother as the owners thought this would get the team some good press – and it does.

Playing Professionally

Now as it often happens, elite players in the juniors struggle with the speed and size of the professionals. Joe is having a hard time. He finally gets his first goal after playing half the season.

Jim is used to struggling so he puts his head down and gets to work. He now has very high level of coaching and he really starts to improve. He practices endlessly as he can now have practice ice time any time he wants. He works hard on his shot. His coach works with him and gives him specific exercises to hone his ability. He starts to score goals and in his second year scores 15 goals – one more than his older brother.

Jim stays in the NHL 4 years longer than Joe.


Many articles are written about the brothers and all, like this one, are fictional. But this story actually represent the statistics. This sort of scenario has occurred for the past 30 years in many sports and recently was revealed in a report by:

It is a fact that anyone can be great, provided they have enough of the raw elements to make it, such as intelligence and size. Mike Jordan was unable to play for his high school basketball team as he was not tall enough and was considered to be “too average” to make the team. He did not give up and is known today as one of the greatest players of all time.

Contact business coach Rob Carol for all your business coaching needs. Call 604-942-2866 or visit www.robcarol.com/

Rob Carol

Executive Business Coach, Rob Carol, can help you! As your business coach, he will be working with you in five key areas. The emphasis on each area depends on YOUR needs, the type of business YOU have, and YOUR goals.

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