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A challenge to all Philadelphia athletes and sports fans to support ALS research

Bernie Parent
Read the original article on Philly.com.


I went to Hahnemann University Hospital five months ago to meet with Dr. Terry Heiman-Patterson and visit some patients that had been diagnosed with ALS. It was heartbreaking. How can you go from being a completely healthy, functioning individual and progress to a state of total incapacitation in a matter of months? You literally lose everything.


The only time we really heard of ALS awareness prior to the Ice Bucket Challenge in our community was the Phillies Phestival, held annually to raise money specifically to “strike out ALS.” This year’s event was held in May, and in the months following (like so many years before), ALS would fall to the wayside. People would go about their lives, forgetting all about it until the next Phillies Phestival would be scheduled.


But, oh, how the universe works in mysterious ways. Along come a couple of individuals that dedicate themselves to raising awareness for this debilitating disease by dumping a bucket of ice water over their heads and challenging their family members and friends to do the same.


A ripple effect is born. Then the videos go viral, and not only do those people’s friends and family start dumping buckets of ice water on their heads, but athletes and celebrities take on the cause. And in the meantime, in the background of all of this chaos and the social media frenzy, the donations come pouring in; more than the ALS Foundation has ever seen before.


If you didn’t know about ALS before, it would be impossible not to know now. You can’t go five minutes a day without hearing about it! This campaign has emerged and branched out in massive, national proportions, and will probably be marked as one of the most successful awareness and fundraising events for a disease or cause in history.


And as a follow up to my last article about being grateful for what we have, I can’t stress enough how lucky we are to be healthy, to be able to walk, talk, eat, laugh, and enjoy ourselves. Right now, I have the ability to describe to you my feelings and emotions, because in the blink of an eye, all of that can be taken away.


I wasn’t aware that only 30,000 people in the country are currently diagnosed with this disease. I wasn’t aware that the disease could take your life anywhere within 6 months to 5 years. It’s an aggressive, nasty disease that completely robs you of quality of life. But now, we know.


Appreciate all you have, because the awareness that the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has brought to the forefront of our minds on a national level cannot be ignored.


In time, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge will fade away, but as a community, we have a responsibility to keep this cause in the forefront of our minds, and not let it fade into the background to become just another “internet sensation.”


I, Bernie Parent, challenge YOU to join me in keeping ALS awareness alive on a community level. Let’s bring support to OUR homefront and help the ALS Hope Foundation, located right here in Philadelphia, PA, reach their goals for those suffering with ALS in our very own backyard.


I’m calling out ALL Philadelphia athletes (present and alumni), sports fans and corporations alike to walk with me at the 7th Annual Hope Walks for ALS at 12 p.m. on Sunday, October 19th, 2014 at Valley Forge Military Academy, 1001 Eagles Road, Wayne, PA 19087.


Our goal is to raise $100,000, but personally, I think we can exceed that. The first 500 individuals at the registration table that day will receive a free hard cover copy of my book, Journey Through Risk and Fear.


Whether you’d like to walk with me for a small donation of $25, or donate on a corporate level with sponsorships, visit www.alshopefoundation.org TODAY!


Let’s see how many saves we can make as a community in the City of Brotherly Love!


Click here to register for the event.

The Importance of Being Grateful

Bernie Parent
See the original article on Philly.com.


There are so many things to be grateful for. I am not alone when I say I have the ability to focus on what I don’t have. It’s tough being in a situation that you’re always wanting what you don’t have as opposed to being grateful for what you do have.


There is power in being thankful. It is the power of attraction. If I’m grateful for all of the things around me, I will attract more of those good things. If I’m negative all the time, you better believe I will attract more negativity.


Every morning when I get up, I have a little routine. I say out loud the things that I’m grateful for. If you’re not careful, you’ll forget to be grateful for waking up in the morning in good health, for being able to see, talk, hear and so on.


I’ll give you an example…


My boat hasn’t run in two years, and people in the marina always come up to me and say, “Your boat still isn’t running after all of that work you put into fixing it. Aren’t you angry?” And my answer is always the same: “Look at the bright side…I’m grateful I have a boat. I’m grateful that I can watch a beautiful sunset while I sit on the back of it with some friends smoking a cigar.” Instead of being upset that the boat isn’t working, I change it into something positive.


I’m not perfect. I’m human. If I’m not careful, I might let the fact that I put a lot of time and effort into fixing my boat with no outcome get to me; but I make a point to stay away from that. And I didn’t always think this way. The older I get, the wiser I get. I read a lot of philosophy books, which has helped me to accept life’s terms and make better decisions for myself.


If things aren’t going right socially, financially, etc., the question I would ask myself is, “Who am I hanging around with?” You have to classify what it is you’re looking to make better: your social life, your love life, your spirituality, your economic status. If I want to be at a certain level, but the people around me just have a bad attitude about life in general, I won’t be able to get where I need to go in order to achieve my goal. I have to surround myself with good, like-minded individuals that feel the way that I want to feel. If I’m sick and tired week after week, month after month, year after year, what has to change? I have to change. No one else is responsible for my happiness.


The last couple of weeks, I haven’t had much fun because I took on a responsibility that I had absolutely no control over. A couple of my friends are sick and in bad shape physically and I allowed myself to bring those negative feelings onto myself. I almost put myself in a depressed state. I was over-thinking about the negative things that may happen and I let my guard down. But I have a quote that I read to myself when I start to let negative energy get to me, and it goes like this:


“Over-thinking is the art of creating problems that weren’t even there to begin with.” – Unknown


I was over-thinking some of my friends’ physical problems and projecting those feelings back onto myself in a negative way. I anticipated the worst and I took myself down with it. This morning, I woke up and realized what I was doing wrong. I changed my perception, which won’t necessarily make my friends better, but my attitude toward the situation will hopefully lift their spirits. And that is all that I can hope for.


For every situation you will encounter in your lifetime, there is going to be a positive and negative side. You have to make the choice. You have to choose the path that you will take.


There will be people who read this article and say, “I have nothing to be grateful for. My life sucks.” I’ll tell you all the same thing…You have the ability to read this article. You have at least one of the senses that God gave you to receive this message. And I hope you use it.


Today, I’m grateful that I recognize who I am, and I’m grateful to march on with what I believe in with my vision.

Bernie Parent’s Scouting Report on new Flyers General Manager, Ron Hextall

Bernie Parent

Read the original article on Philly.com.

Ultimately, we now have two great hockey minds in positions of power. And I coached new Flyers general manager Ron Hextall, so I would like to share my insight. He was unique as a player, with a crazy passion for the game of hockey.

 

I went to Winnipeg, Canada to scout him as a junior and I had heard before making the trip that he was aggressive, he read plays well, he had a good vision and anticipated where the puck was going; he could even shoot the puck well. The first time I saw him play, I think he had eight or nine goals scored against him in that game, but I still liked the way he played. Everyone has bad nights, but he still challenged the shooters, looked for the shot from the blue line, and positioned himself accordingly. He was an intelligent goaltender.

 

Even with those nine goals scored against him, I saw something special. His energy created a leader in him. And you need a leader at goal, a leader on defense, and a leader on offense. Hextall was that leader. You could hear him talking to his defensemen and offering them insight and guidance. He carried all of this with him all throughout his career.

 

I brought all of the information back to Keith Allen from Winnipeg, Canada and told him he’d be a great fit for the orange and black. We drafted him 119th overall in the 1982 NHL draft.

 

At this time, I was the goalie coach for the Flyers working with Pelle Lindbergh. Hextall came up to play with the Flyers in the 1984 season, played a couple years in the farm system, and after Pelle passed in 1985, Hextall had one of the best seasons I’ve ever seen as a rookie during the 1986-1987 season, which won him the Vezina trophy. Ultimately, the Flyers lost the seventh game of the Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers, but Hextall was still awarded the Conn Smythe trophy. I knew he had it as a junior, but the progression he made was amazing.

 

Being a professional goalie and Hall of Famer, critiquing his play as he made it into the NHL was truly fascinating. Everything he exuded as a junior intensified in the NHL. Every skill and attribute that he had was perfected: his leadership, vision, enthusiasm, etc.

 

Hextall was the first goaltender to score a goal in the opposing net. He really changed the game. How incredible is that? Not to mention, he took the Flyers to the Stanley Cup Finals…twice.

 

Everyone knew what Hextall did on the ice, how loud and aggressive he was. But in the locker room, he was a typical goalie: quiet. If he had a bad game, he rarely expressed himself. But do you want to know what really showed everyone the type of player Hextall was? When he left the net to go after Chris Chelios after Chelios knocked out Brian Propp with a cheap shot. Hextall was the ultimate warrior, possessed a rare intensity and stuck up for his team members. That was a defining moment in his career.

 

We have Paul Holmgren as team president, who started out as a hockey player, made his way up to a scout, and then a general manager. And along comes Ron Hextall, who was one of the greatest goalies the Philadelphia Flyers organization has ever seen, who moved on to be a scout, then a successful assistant general manager with the Los Angeles Kings, and back to his home sweet home of Philadelphia as our new general manager. We now have two hockey-oriented minds making the decisions.

 

The best part of all of this is that these qualities stick with you, and I see all of these qualities and values expressed in Hextall’s position as general manager.

 

The heads of the Flyers organization have played so many roles on their way up the ladder and are experienced in all areas of the game of hockey. I think all of this passion, dedication, and team identity that radiates from Hextall will reflect into his managing.

 

Hextall took “don’t mess with my teammate” to the next level. Whatever it was you thought you were going to get away with, Hextall ripped that right out from under you. Not only will this resonate with the current Flyers roster physically, but having that sort of mental attitude on top of all the preparations will take this team far.

 

In this position of power, you are more likely to pursue athletes that play the way you played. And I can’t wait to see it come to fruition.

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Kings

Bernie ParentRead the original article on Philly.com.

The Los Angeles Kings have won their second Stanley Cup in three years. That’s a hell of an achievement.

Each of the Kings’ playoff series were a huge success. Even the first series, when they were down 3-0 and came back with four consecutive wins. They fell behind a couple times after and still made it back to the top, including three overtime wins.

There’s a great message here to apply to life. How many times would people quit when they get behind and hit a low? If you don’t quit and carry on with persistence, you will persevere. And from a guy who has been in their position, I recognize that it takes a team to win: the players, coaching staff, management, the crowd, etc.

Every individual did their part, but they won as a team. If everyone executes their role with passion, everything else will fall together.

During the Kings’ first playoff series, there was a renewal of passion and faith after losing three straight games to winning the series with four consecutive wins. That’s when the magic happens. They were unstoppable. There’s no hesitation. They kept moving forward.

Every player steps on that ice, in this case, every Ranger and every King, feeling that they would win. No one steps on the ice with doubt. And both teams played well. But I saw something unique in the Kings.

Sure, the Kings’ passion was palpable, but the better team won. They have better players with highly developed skills. When you go into overtime, even double overtime, and when you visualize your win, you attract what you’re thinking.

These teams have the best two goalies in the league, and it showed. Henrik Lundqvist faced 48 shots in the last game of the Stanley Cups Final. He made some very unbelievable saves. And honestly, I thought Lundqvist should have won the MVP of the playoffs.

Both of these goalies, Lundqvist and Jonathan Quick, played amazing this season and deserve to compete at this level. I haven’t seen this kind of matchup between goaltenders in a very long time. At this level of play, with the Stanley Cup on the line, you have to make sure that you are just one goal better than your opposing team, because anything can happen to change that lead. Just one missed save can cost you the game, and Quick ended up just one goal better.

Going back out onto the ice for overtime as a goaltender is tense. You make one mistake and it’s over. It elevates your performance. And that goes for every position on a team. That’s the beauty of the playoffs. As soon as your team crosses the blue line, there’s a chance you can win the game. A minor bounce of the puck or a deflection could win that game for you. You feed off the fans and you perform.

There’s been a big influx of comments about the three ex-Flyers – Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Justin Williams – all leaving Philadelphia to go on and win the Stanley Cup elsewhere. First, there are a lot of factors that have to be taken into consideration when assessing a player’s ability to fit within a system. It’s not just the physical attributes and skill set of that player that has to work with the team, it’s the personality, the chemistry in the locker room, where they are in the development of their play, etc.

Most importantly, a team is a puzzle. You could have three great pieces in the wrong puzzle, and no matter how you try to twist and turn them, those pieces won’t fit. But when those pieces move on to the puzzle they belong to, they fit beautifully. Just because they were good somewhere else, doesn’t mean they would have won a Stanley Cup here.

If the piece doesn’t fit, you have to move on. If you have three circles but you need three squares, you’re wasting your time.

Ask Bernie: Philadelphia Takes Cares of its Own

Bernie ParentRead the original post on Philly.com.

Why do so many Philadelphia athletes decide to stay around the city or within the organization after retirement?

- Lou S
Washington Township, NJ

The media loves to downplay and criticize Philadelphia (snowballs and Santa Claus … enough said). But I don’t think the media ever focuses on how receptive the people of this area are, were and continue to be. The national media shuns us, gives us the black eye, and always focuses on the negative, in all sports. I’m not sure if the media just doesn’t care, or refuses to acknowledge the beauty of the people living in this area. You know what? Maybe the Broad Street Bullies brought this on themselves. Phil Esposito said it well, “Yea, we’re tough. But to win a championship, you have to have talent, too.”

And this applies to all of our Philadelphia teams.

But most importantly, the people of the Philadelphia region become your family. And truthfully, that’s why a lot of players stay here. I can walk the streets of Philadelphia and feel a part of this family. No matter what they say about Philadelphia and its residents, the city as a whole embraces you with open arms. And Philadelphia takes care of its own.

Hi Bernie. I’m writing in for some advice. I was married for 20 years but recently divorced. It’s been a very long time since I’ve had a taste of the dating game, and I wanted to know how I can muster up the confidence to get out there and try again? Times have certainly changed, and I want to stay true to myself and my beliefs. Any advice for a man that’s looking for some companionship without a clue where to start?

- Joe C
Philadelphia, PA

I applaud you for staying true to yourself and not staying a slave to your situation. So many people are afraid, rightfully so, to hurt others (especially if children are involved), so they just go through the motions and never allow themselves to live the life they were meant to live. If you’ve exhausted all options in your relationship and the next logical step is to go your separate ways, it will be a difficult decision, but make it for your happiness and the happiness of your loved ones.

I’ve been divorced for 20 years, but I made a promise to myself and my family, that we will ALWAYS remain family. But I wouldn’t let myself continue to live in that environment. At the same time, it was my responsibility to make sure my family is taken care of.

If you’ve fallen in love and gotten married at a young age, after a while, you may realize that you no longer have the same vision as your partner. And that’s ok.

Where to start? Start with never forgetting where you came from. Study your past situation and where you were. The confidence will come with simply putting yourself out there. Allow yourself to meet people; different people. Put yourself in situations to find like-minded people that you’re compatible with and enjoy their company. Find things you like to do together. Figure out what you have in common to build a good foundation. Find the qualities you like in a person and run with it. You may be surprised in the qualities you like in other people today, as opposed to 25 years ago. But if you find yourself wasting time with someone that doesn’t have the same vision and interests in life as you, move on.

At any point in your career or life, have you ever been faced with a situation where you’ve been forced to make a tough decision that was life altering? If so, what was that predicament? The reason I ask is I’ve been a life long Philly sports fan with a very close family. I’ve recently moved to Boston for my career, and really enjoy the city (but not the sports teams). I’d like to hear how you’ve handled adversity when you were questioning a decision you’ve made, or a predicament you were in to possibly give me some direction.

- Dan R

First, I want you to find your purpose. If the tough decision that you are about to make will help you get closer to your purpose, go for it. Only you can make the right decision for yourself and your goals. You have to shut down the opinions of others without hurting anyone. Your main focus should be serving your purpose. People you don’t even know will come into your life and help you move forward. I’ve had to make countless life-altering decisions, and I did it my way. I think Frank Sinatra and I would have been great friends.

Frank Sinatra “My Way”

“And now, the end is near;
And so I face the final curtain.
My friend, I’ll say it clear,
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain.

I’ve lived a life that’s full.
I’ve traveled each and ev’ry highway;
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Regrets, I’ve had a few;
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course;
Each careful step along the byway,
But more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew.
But through it all, when there was doubt,
I ate it up and spit it out.
I faced it all and I stood tall;
And did it my way.

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried.
I’ve had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing.

To think I did all that;
And may I say – not in a shy way,
“No, oh no not me,
I did it my way”.

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows -
And did it my way!”

Switching from feature articles to an interactive, “Ask Bernie” platform has given me more opportunities to connect and communicate with my fans! We had so many great questions submitted within the last couple of weeks, and I hope you enjoy the topics I’ve picked. Would you like to participate? I welcome any questions pertaining to sports/life/current events/relationships/etc. to questions@bernieparent.net. I’ll randomly choose two or three questions to feature in my bi-weekly articles on Philly.com. Hope to hear from you soon!