"That was one of his things, winning is a skill, but it's also part of the winning culture. He's done a great job of laying out the groundwork for us to follow," said forward Brad Malone of his Head Coach.
BAKERSFIELD, CA - "Move."
It's a word you often hear at Condors practices. Whether he's standing at centre ice, along the boards or on the bench, it's Head Coach Jay Woodcroft's way of indicating that it's time to push the pace.
That it is time to move forward.
Since Apr 27, 2018, when the Toronto, ON native was named Head Coach of the Condors, he and his players have continued to move in the right direction and adopt a certain mindset that has led to a ground-breaking season in Bakersfield.
"Earlier this season, we went through a couple of small rough patches and we really liked the way we were playing the game," said Woodcroft following Tuesday's practice. "We were just finding a way to not win and that's when we started talking about winning being a skill.
"It's not something that you can script. It's not formulaic. It's a skill to learn how to find those moments in games, those key moments, and making sure that you're doing what you can to put yourself in a position to succeed. That experience of going through those tough stretches allowed us to work through key moments and gave our players the confidence to realize that winning is a skill and that you have to find ways to win. It's a skill that we want to develop in our young players."
With an 'A' on his chest, Brad Malone is tasked to spread and uphold Woodcroft's message in the Condors' locker room. As an integral part of the leadership group in Bakersfield, Malone didn't hesitate to buy into his coach's philosophy early on.
"When Jay came in, he wanted to change the culture a little bit and the mentality of the group as a whole," said Malone. "A lot of great guys have come through here before but he had a plan, an idea of what that was going to be. Since day one, everyone has bought into what he's saying.
"That was one of his things, winning is a skill, but it's also part of the winning culture. He's done a great job of laying out the groundwork for us to follow."
With 68 games during the regular season to strengthen the fundamental mindset of this group, the rookie bench boss is now tasked with "continuing to bring that attitude here in round number two."
"The league has just narrowed from 16 teams in the playoffs down to eight," said Woodcroft. "So it's gotten narrower, more focused and better. Just like when we headed into round number one, we realized that we're going to have to raise our level. We feel that we came through an emotional series, but we've been talking about the playoffs for going on four or five months here and trying to prepare our team for that.
"Part of being in the playoffs is your ability to stay composed and manage your emotion and manage the highs and lows. I thought our team, especially under the leadership of our veterans, did a really good job of staying even-keeled with our mindset. We enjoyed each win for about 15 minutes, then we came back to the next day to get back to work. We've stayed humble. We take our craft seriously and we have a businesslike attitude to make sure that we're prepared for our next game."