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‘Croninisms’: Profound quotes from Colorado Eagles head coach Greg Cronin

The Eagles coach has a way with words, and it’s one of the many reasons why he’s earned the respect of his players

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Being the head coach of a sports team — or really, being in a leadership role in any capacity — is made up of equal parts being a teacher and a role model and having an acute ability to speak with conviction. Then, add a dash of philosophical lessons at the end for good measure.

It’s no surprise it’s often the head coach who delivers those life-changing speeches and pre-game pep talks in every sports movie. Think Kurt Russel’s Herb Brooks in “Miracle” or Gene Hackman’s Coach Norman Dale in “Hoosiers” or Al Pacino’s Tony D’Amato of “Any Given Sunday.” Coaches just have a way with words, and Colorado Eagles head coach Greg Cronin is no different.

In speaking with Cronin a number of times throughout the season, I’ve bore witness to a few of his sagacious quotes. I’ve coined these philosophical profundities of his as “Croninisms.” Here are a just few of his best:

On getting better at something:

”If you really really want to be great, then you do the things you don’t do well more than the things you do well…it starts with starving bad habits and filling that space in with good habits. It’s easy to say but harder to do...That transition from starving the bad habits—which is hard by the way—to filling that space with good habits is very hard. It takes intense daily scrutiny. That’s what practice is. You build quality repetitions in place of poor repetitions. I’m passionate about that as a coach.”

On building trust:

“I think any relationship starts with honesty. I think if the person doesn’t construct a relationship based upon honesty and integrity, then it’s just not going to grow...Trust is a big part of a relationship and you have to trust that what I’m telling you is healthy and it’s going to make you grow as a player.”

On mental toughness:

“It’s easy to talk about but it’s a difficult journey to travel on if you are that person. He’s in an environment here where our big thing is about transparency, making people aware of things and then helping them along that journey. This is like tribal existence. We’re trying to promote growth from everybody. And I think the consistency thing for him is all mental and it’s going to be a really rewarding year for him when he figures it out.”

On being honest with yourself:

“This is what I do believe, is people that are mentally tough and that are honest with themselves can handle an honest message and they’ll work at it and they will change quicker than the guy that is selective about when he’s honest with himself.”

On stress:

“Human stress, you know, everybody deals with that...It’s just part of life and it sucks.”

On finding oneself:

“It’s all in his head. You know, he needs to decide who he’s going to be as a hockey player, and who he wants to be as a person, who he wants to be as a teammate, who he wants to be as a human being. Those are the things that he’s got to make a decision.”

On thinking you’re too good for something:

“It’s always interesting, I tell their agents and the coaches of these players that come out of college and even juniors, they think it’s real easy. You know, [they think] the American League isn’t a hard league and then they come in during that time of year (late March), when everyone’s fighting for playoff spots, it’s harder; and then when they’re playing in the playoffs, it’s like ‘holy smokes, this is way harder than I thought.’ Well the best thing that happens is that it kind of humbles those guys. They start to think, ‘wow, I’ve got some work to do.’”

On handling a tough situation:

“You know, you get sent down from the NHL, which is where you all want to be, and you get sent down, it’s a tough move downward. But it’s also logical, and they have to respond to it in a real professional way or they’re not going to go back up — it’s that simple.”

On knowing when to fold ‘em:

“Sometimes he makes plays trying to do too much as opposed to thinking ‘I’ve got a 3, a 4, 7, 9 and a 2, I got to fold my hand.’ Just let it go. That to me is going to be his challenge...They’re trying to make the fanciest play instead of just shooting the puck.”

On getting over yourself:

“If guys come down here (to the AHL) and they have a pity party and they mope, it doesn’t do anybody any good.”

On handling and overcoming frustration:

“He gets frustrated and he wants it so bad, he’s so competitive, sometimes those are roadblocks. I think once he matures mentally, he’s not going to see them as roadblocks, he’s going to see them as opportunities to overcome it.”

I hope you’ve all learned a little something from these quotables. Next time you face any sort of fork in the road in your life, ask yourself: “What would Cronin do?”