business news in context, analysis with attitude

by Michael Sansolo

There’s no simple way to measure the importance of team players who find a way to make things work, even when everything around them is falling apart. But it’s a skill that should never go overlooked, underappreciated or unrewarded.

For that reason every team leader might want to spend a few moments with their charges this week talking about a stunning moment that happened in the final game of this year’s National Hockey League Championships or just examining this photo.

But first, some context:  On Sunday night the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup hockey championship by dethroning the two-time defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning. However with less than two minutes remaining in the game things might have turned out very differently thanks to a fluke play.

Down just a goal at that point, Tampa was desperately pressuring for a tie when Colorado player Gabriel Landeskog stopped a shot with his skate, a fairly usual occurrence in hockey. What happened next was unusual.

The shot actually knocked his left blade clean off his skate. You don’t have to know much about hockey or skating to know that a person simply cannot skate on just one blade and Landeskog was left down on the ice while his teammates scrambled to control the play.

At that moment, with the entire game hanging in the balance, Colorado could obviously not afford to play with a disabled skater. So Landeskog’s teammate, Nathan McKinnon, grabbed him by the jersey and dragged him toward the bench so that the hobbled player could crawl off the ice, which he did. A substitute replaced him and Colorado hung on for the win.

And right there, McKinnon provided an incredible example of teamwork and seeing a bigger picture. It’s highly unlikely that any hockey team has a drill for what to do when a teammate loses a skate blade. And McKinnon had to know that while he was helping his disabled teammate he was, in essence, taking both himself and Landeskog out of the play.

But he also understood that doing nothing would potentially be a bigger disaster, leaving his team with a useless player at a critical time. And that’s the lesson all staffers need to understand. There is tremendous benefit in being aware of the situation around you and knowing when and where to step up and help someone else. It might be a time when the front end lines are too long or when shelf stocking is becoming a nightmare.

Or it could be when a simple piece of equipment malfunctions or thanks to staffing shortages (a common occurrence these days) help is needed somewhere else. 

It’s about knowing the situation, seeing the bigger picture and understanding that there is good reason to rise above a single job to do something essential.  Such moments should be recognized and applauded. Perhaps we could start the McKinnon award for recognition of those times. That could be better than a Stanley Cup.

Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at

His book, “THE BIG PICTURE:  Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available here.

And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon here.