Finishing with Style

The Stanley Cup Finals are about to start, which means that fourteen teams have been eliminated from the playoff race. That means we've also seen fourteen examples of one of the best traditions in American sports.

The NHL playoffs are tough. Each series is at least four games and as many as seven, which means opponents see each other many times over a span of just a few days. Emotions run high, and things can get pretty personal between players through a series. Not surprising, considering  that a championship is on the line.

But each series ends with a handshake. No matter who won nor whose stadium they're in, every member of each team lines up to shake hands with each opponent. People who just spent the past week or two fighting tooth and nail congratulate one another, and the team that was just eliminated wishes the victors well in their next round. 

Last week the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Winnipeg Jets in the Jets' home stadium. As the Knights were awarded the conference championship trophy, the Winnipeg fans cheered -- first for the Knights, then for the Jets as the players took one last lap for the season.

No one wins every time, and how you behave when you lose is as important as how you behave when you win. Taking second place, fifth place, or tenth place doesn't mean you performed poorly, and it doesn't mean you've failed. Sure, it's disappointing to not win, but showing dignity and class at that moment is a great first step.

Spend some time reviewing; think about what you could learn from the experience, but don't let "not winning" be an excuse to stop playing. Be proud of how you performed, and move on to the next endeavor knowing you earned the respect of other people and yourself.