“Hockey…Without The Silver Lining”


As you read the rest of this book, you will be reminded about the “silver lining” often. The following little story will give you an idea of the significance of the title. Once you have finished reading the story, the message will become clearer during the rest of this chapter.

Once upon a time there was a very rich man who couldn’t understand why he was unhappy. He had wealth beyond imagination, but he was always in a miserable mood and lived in a huge mansion by himself. Once day he visited a wise old man and confided in him about his dilemma.

The wise old man took him to a window. “Look out there,” he said.

The rich man looked out into the street.

“What do you see?” the wise old man asked.

“I see men and women and little children,” answered the rich man.

Then the wise old man took the rich man to a mirror.

“What do you see now?” he asked.

“I see myself,” the rich man answered.

Then the wise old man explained, “Behold, the window is made of glass and the mirror is glass also. But the glass of the mirror is covered with a silver lining on one side. No sooner is silver added than you cease to see others and see only yourself.”

The rich man left the wise old man and drove to his sister’s house for his annual Christmas Eve visit to deliver some very expensive gifts that he had purchased for her family. When he arrived at the door his sister, her husband, and their five-year-old daughter warmly greeted him. His sister and her husband were of modest means, living in a small apartment, yet they were always happy. The rich man was still confused from the advice given by the wise old man.

It was just then that the little girl gave the rich man one of the most touching moments of his life. The beautiful child held out a small pie plate on which was pasted a tiny angel. It didn’t matter that the angel looked like a clown, nor that it was pasted on crooked. What mattered is that the little girl had touched the heart of the old man and opened up a whole new world to him as if it was a book that he’d never been able to read before.

For the first time that he could remember, there were tears in his eyes as the little girl gave him a big hug and asked him to stay for a while to play with her. When he left several hours later, he realized that she had given him one of life’s finest gifts. When she kissed him good-bye and told him that this was the best Christmas she ever had, he suddenly understood what the wise old man was trying to tell him earlier in the day.

As he drove home that evening the stars in the sky seemed to be shining a little bit brighter. From that day onward, the rich man stopped spending time looking in mirrors, and instead, looked through every window he could find. He discovered that real joy comes not from ease or riches, but from doing something worthwhile for others. The rich man never again felt unhappy!

It is our hope that HOCKEY “Without The Silver Lining”, will become your window. After you finish reading this book you should have a better appreciation for the game and how it is played. You should also have a better understanding of how others view the game and why they act as they sometimes do.


I have prepared a “Minor Hockey Enhancement Workshop” for parents, coaches and players. Soon it will be available on video and will be a useful tool for minor hockey administrators who wish to provide perspective for their members. Each session begins with the following demonstration.

We ask for eight volunteers to come forward from the audience. Each one is given a different hat with one of the following names engraved on the front. HOME COACH; VISITING COACH; HOME PARENT; VISITING PARENT; HOME PLAYER; VISITING PLAYER; REFEREE; FAN. 

The volunteers are then asked to sit beside each other on one side of a long table, with their backs to the audience.

A large mirror is then placed on the table, with the back of the mirror facing the volunteers.  Along the top of the mirror is the word, HOCKEY.

One at a time, the volunteers are asked to step around to the front of the mirror and sit on a chair, out of sight of the audience and the other volunteers. Once facing the mirror, the volunteer is asked to describe what he/she sees. 

The answer is obvious. The person indicates that he/she sees the word HOCKEY and sees himself, identified by the role indicated on the particular hat he is wearing. Further questioning reveals that he is aware that there are other people behind the mirror, but at the time, he only sees himself.

After each of the volunteers have had an opportunity to go through this process, we take a couple of minutes to explain that one of the main problems with hockey today, is not really a problem at all. It is merely a fact of life. Once we accept the fact that each and every one of us is the most important person in our life, it becomes clear. When we look at hockey, what we see clearly is our self. We have needs and concerns and those stand out over all of the others. We know there are other people involved in the game, but we see our self first and foremost. This is not a bad thing. It is reality. Once this is pointed out, we continue with the demonstration.

This time, the mirror is removed and replaced with a similar sized sheet of clear glass. Along the top of the glass will be the words, HOCKEY…WITHOUT THE SILVER LINING. We then explain to the audience and to the volunteers that only thing that is different from the first demonstration is that we have removed the silver backing from the mirror.

One at a time, the volunteers are asked to step around to the other side of the glass. Once facing the glass, the volunteer is again asked to identify what he sees.

This time, the person states that he sees all of the other volunteers with their identities indicated on their hats. He also states that he sees a lot of unidentified people in the background because he is facing the audience. 

The person is asked if he sees himself. The answer is no. The person is then asked if he is aware that he is there even though he cannot see himself. The answer is yes. He is then asked to describe what the people whom he sees through the glass are doing. The answer is that they are all looking at him.

We then go through this process until all of the volunteers who went to the mirror in the first instance have had a chance to see the difference without the silver lining.


The demonstration clearly shows that until you remove the silver lining from the mirror, you see only yourself. You know that there are many others in the background, behind the mirror, but you can’t, or don’t want to see them. You are the only one who matters and that is why you are the only one you see in the mirror. This is often referred to as "willful blindness".

Now this is where it gets interesting. There are many people who swear that they are in hockey for the good of the kids and to give something back to the community. They are volunteering their time and sacrificing their own personal life to benefit others. This is all very noble, and volunteers are all doing wonderful things for the sport, but no matter how good one’s intentions may be, when you look at hockey through your own eyes, if you are like the vast majority of people, you still see the game largely from your own point of view. If you are a parent of the home team, you see everything from the point of view of a parent from the home team. The effect of the decisions and actions of the home coach, the visiting coach, the opposing parents, the referee, etc. all impact you from your point of view as a parent of the home team.  If you are a coach of the home team, you see the game from a point of view that is completely different from the point of view of one of the parents of your team.

It is important for you to understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It is normal for you to feel this way. What is equally important, however, and central to the purpose of this book, is that you are aware of this fact and admit that you view hockey from your particular point of view and that this point of view may be preventing you from seeing the game through the eyes of all other participants.


Once you remove the silver lining from the back of the mirror, you no longer see yourself, but now you can see all of the other people involved in the game. If you are a parent, you see the parents of the opposing team; you see your coach and the other coach; you see the parents of the children on your team; you see the players on your team and on the opposing team; you see the referee; and you see that there are many other unidentified people in the background. Furthermore, all of the other people are looking directly at you, watching your every move. You don’t know what they are thinking. You don’t know how your actions are affecting them, but you know they are watching.

 With or without the “silver lining”, you are the same person. You haven’t changed. When you looked into the mirror a few moments before, you were the same person as you are now. But when you looked into the mirror, the only person you saw was yourself. Everyone else was still in the room, looking at the back of the mirror. They knew you were there, but they couldn’t tell what you were doing or what you were thinking because there was a silver lining in the way. They have not changed either. They are in the same place as before and are the same people as before.

Without the silver lining, everything is different. Not only are you aware of all of the other people in the game, but you are aware that they are all watching you. There were there all the time, but you just couldn’t see them. You still don’t know exactly what they are feeling or thinking, but at least you can see them. Interestingly enough, when you remove the silver lining from the back of the mirror, it allows you to see everyone else, but you don’t notice yourself. Your feelings and concerns are still there as before, but you are not focused on yourself, you are focused on all of the others around you.


The goal of this book and our web site After The Whistle  is to remove the silver lining and help you see hockey from the points of view of all others in the game.  As a parent, if you are aware of the feelings and concerns of the coaches, the players, the officials and opposing coaches, players and parents, your attitude towards everything about the game may change. Also, by understanding the rules of the game, and how they are administered, you will become more knowledgeable and react to game situations in a more positive manner.

When you have finished reading this book you will look at hockey without the silver lining. You will be more aware of what is truly important to you as an individual and in your own particular role, be that a parent, a coach, a referee or a fan. This entire book is all about perspective. It is our opinion if people are given a better appreciation of how others view the game of hockey, it will result in a much-improved attitude and alleviate many of the problems which plaque the sport today.

To emphasize the main philosophy of this book, I want to share another story with you that I came across years ago. I am not sure who wrote the story, but I am sure he was a hockey fan.

Cindy glanced nervously at the clock on the kitchen wall. Five minutes before midnight. Her parents were expected to arrive home any minute. It was her parent’s anniversary and she wanted to do something special for them.

 She carefully put the finishing touches on the chocolate cake she was frosting. It was the first time in her 12 years that she had tried to make a cake from scratch, and to be honest; it wasn’t exactly a culinary triumph. The cake was lumpy and because she had run out of sugar, the frosting was bitter.

And then there was the way the kitchen looked. Imagine a huge blender filled with all of the fixings for chocolate cake - including the requisite bowls, pans and utensils. Now imagine that the blender is turned on - high speed - with the lid off. Do you get the idea?

But Cindy wasn’t thinking about the mess. She had created something that was special to her - a masterpiece of flour and sugar rising out of the kitchen clutter. She was anxious for her parents to return home from their date so she could present her anniversary gift to them. She turned off the kitchen lights and waited excitedly in the darkness for them to arrive. When at last she saw the flash of the car headlights, she positioned herself in the kitchen doorway. By the time she heard the key sliding into the front door, she was on the verge of exploding and couldn’t wait to share her excitement.

Her parents tried to slip in quietly, but Cindy would have none of that. She flipped on the lights dramatically and trumpeted: “Ta-daaaaa!” She gestured grandly toward the kitchen table, where a slightly off-balance, two-layer chocolate cake awaited their inspection.

But her mother’s eyes never made it all the way to the table.

“Just look at this mess!” she moaned. “How many times have I talked to you about cleaning up after yourself?”

“But Mom, I was only...”

“I should make you clean this up right now, but I’m too tired to stay up with you to make sure you get it done right,” her mother said angrily. “So you’ll get up early and do it first thing in the morning.”

“Honey,” Cindy’s father interjected gently, “take a look at the table.”

“I know! It’s a mess!” his wife said coldly. “The whole kitchen is a disaster. I can’t stand to look at it.” She stormed up the stairs and into her room, slamming the door shut behind her.

For a few moments, Cindy and her father stood silently, neither one knowing what to say. At last she looked up at him, her eyes moist and red. “She never saw the cake,” she said.

“Hockey – Without The Silver Lining” is all about seeing “the cake”. Far too many people in hockey have spent their time and energies identifying the “mess”, focusing on the “problems” of hockey today. We can all see the concerns about parent pressure and violence in the stands; coaches who are in it for the wrong reasons; poor refereeing and referee development; incompetent administration; the expense of hockey; violent players; etc. However, if we concentrate too heavily on all of the negative issues and concerns of the day, we run the risk of being unable to see the “cake” – the good thing that came out of the mess, and the thing that was the ultimate goal in the first place.

In this book you will see that the “cake” is the  “game of hockey itself”. You see the game and appreciate hockey in a way you may never have experienced. When you truly see and appreciate the game for what it is, you will discover solutions to the problems. You will see that the mess can be cleaned up. All messes can be cleaned up.

Once the mess is cleaned up, not only will still have “the cake”, but you will enjoy the cake like never before.