I have learned never to tell a hockey player that it's just a game they play. This is telling him or her that there is something more out there besides the game, and it's not a game, it's a lifestyle. Him or her may understand what you are trying to tell them, trying to make them understand, but it's quite impossible for them to accept it, for them to embrace it, and to live as if hockey's only a game. They have given everything to behold the perfectness of the just-zambonied ice, the feel of victory and triumph after a goal, sniping it in past a goalie. It hurts them so much for their talent and skill not being able to meet expectations and goals, because they're out there everyday, trying to improve and perfect skills that may not be able to be improved. They bleed for each other, they show this strange bond of closeness like that of brothers, one we can't really understand. To tell them that this is all unimportant compared to the other things of the world is like trying to get an atheist to believe, it truly takes a miracle. People with extreme passion don't even compare to the vigilance and determination of a hockey, and not for the game they play, but rather for the lifestyle. The reward for the passion they have is unexplainable. So, it may be a game for us, but remember, we are just watching. It's who they are, without it, they'd be empty.