Lane Lambert’s professional career, like all of ours, is about challenges. Challenges he’s faced and challenges he’s laid in front of his team.
He also challenged me to straighten up.
A few years ago, I really let myself go. Now, I wasn’t the epitome of health to begin with, but I was going through some issues. My wife had recently passed and I was eating my emotions. I went into Lane’s office to chat with the coach. He asked how I was doing and I said that I needed to focus on getting healthier. He asked me to close the door and then asked me, “What the hell are you doing?” He then gave me the pep talk to end all pep talks. I was in tears. He told me personal stories about people he knew in his life and urged me to get my act together. While I have a long way to go, I have lost about 60 pounds since that encounter. That meeting moved our relationship beyond reporter/coach and I’ll be forever grateful that he cared enough to be so direct with me.
In my experience with Lane, he has had the skill and the guts to be blunt with people around him. Nobody I have met has cared more about “the team” than Lane. That carries over to individual players. Lane has learned in his relatively short time in Milwaukee how to poke, prod and caress unique egos. A coach wants athletes to get better. To make that player understand, the coach has to be blunt. Lane challenged his players to be better. The number of players that have told me that Lane is the best coach they ever played for is staggering.
Consider the number of players in Nashville that spent time with Milwaukee under the tutelage of Lane and Ian Herbers and/or Brad Lauer. Consider the number of players from this seasons Admirals roster that improved greatly as the season wore on: Gabriel Bourque, Ryan Thang, Chris Mueller, Blake Geoffrion, Matt Halischuk et al.
I’m really going to miss the times when a five minute visit for the pregame interview turns into a 90 minute session of jokes and stories. I’m going to miss how chatting about how awesome the last Cheap Trick show was.
The Admirals loss is clearly Nashville’s gain. I will be eternally grateful that Lane Lambert is my friend.
Congratulations and best of luck to new NHL Winnipeg GM Kevin Cheveldayoff. The former Chicago Wolves GM and Blackhawks assistant GM is universally respected and liked. Last year, he let me hold his Stanley Cup ring when we saw one another at Allstate Arena. That was pretty cool.
It was pretty awesome to see former Admirals star Rich Peverley score a pair of goals to help Boston even the Stanley Cup series with the Canucks at two games each.
Since game five of the Stanley Cup Finals in back in Vancouver, I leave you with a song from Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers, featuring Tommy Chong on guitar. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PiFYMcG2hss&feature=related)