As the puck drops on the 2019-2020 NHL Season, A Lamp unto My Cleats will focus on Hockey for the next few months. We will kick off the season by featuring some exclusive content from Tage Thompson, Blake Lizotte, and Josiah Slavin!
As the calendar flipped from 2017 to 2018, Josiah Slavin only seemed to have one thing going for him; his name. His older brother, Jaccob Slavin, was in the midst of his third impressive season with the Carolina Hurricanes. His sister, Jordan, was also known in the hockey world, having played college hockey for the University of North Dakota. As for Josiah? He wasn’t considered to have as bright of a future. In 2018, Chicago Steel General Manager, Ryan Hardy, told Ryan Napientek of The Rink; “Christmas time last year, [Slavin] was really on nobody’s draft radar.”
It’s hard to figure out why. At 6’2” he has good size and a big frame. He touts a strong and accurate wrist shot, great hands, a tireless motor, impressive intelligence, and a fervent dedication to improve. His skating skills are not ranked as being high-end, but are considered strong enough to work at the pro level. Outside of his skating, the highest criticisms you will find are statements like “he is not an elite talent” (Eric Andrews of the Rink) and “he’s not flashy” (Mike Haviland – head coach at Colorado College).
In spite of his skill set and resume, Slavin was not selected in the 2017 draft – his first year of eligibility. He was nearly passed over in 2018 as well. It wasn’t until the final round of the draft – at pick #193 – that Slavin finally heard his name called by the Chicago Blackhawks. While it was considered a solid pick, the selection didn’t make the headlines. Eric Andrews summarized the pick as follows; “It is hard to go wrong with taking a player in the last round with some skill, good work ethic and leadership abilities. If Slavin follows in his brother’s footsteps of making it to the NHL, it would likely not be anything more than a fourth line role. But, with the good head on his shoulders and work ethic, he could become a reliable depth player coaches love.”
What’s unique about Slavin, however, is that nearly every general manager, coach, teammate, and hockey pundit who writes about him all agree on one thing. They all agree on the greatest attribute that Josaih brings to the team; his character.
Eric Andrews writes; “unquestionably, though, is Slavin’s best trait: his character. He is very much a team-first player. Slavin has a very good attitude and works as hard as anybody. This selflessness and work ethic make Slavin a natural leader.” John Hull, GM of Lincoln says; “Josaih has made a lasting impact in Lincoln, well beyond the scoresheet. His character and work ethic have been our foundation since his arrival here.” Ryan Hardy, GM of the Chicago Steel says; “Josiah Slavin is a smart, hard-working, veteran player with exceptional character who has been rapidly developing over the last 18 months.” Cody Chubb, Coach of the Lincoln Stars adds; “Josiah is an impressive young man with all of the necessary qualities to be a great leader.” No matter who speaks about him, they all praise his character and his work ethic.
There’s a good reason for this. Slavin doesn’t think of his place on a hockey team as being a position of honor and glory. He thinks of it as an opportunity to serve the people around him. He told the Fellowship of Christian Athletes; “Serving is part of my everyday life, whether it is serving God, my teammates or my coaches. The biggest priority in my life is serving God but as I am serving God, I’m serving others around me as well. It doesn’t have to be something big. It can be something as easy as holding a door or cleaning up after someone and in that I am serving God and others. Jesus is a very good example of someone who serves God through his people. In Mark 10:45 the Bible says “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Part of the reason that Slavin feels so comfortable focusing on serving others is because he believes that his own future is secure. His favorite Bible Verse is Proverbs 3:4-5; Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path.” He explained to A Lamp unto My Cleats; “This is my favorite verse because, in the hockey world, there are a lot of unknown with trades and being sent down, which are very common in hockey. So this verse just gives me a lot of peace, knowing that God has a plan for my life and He’s going to lead me and put me in all the positions that He wants me in.”
While Slavin has been focused on serving others, his game has improved and his stock as an NHL prospect has been continually rising. At the conclusion of the Chicago Blackhawks’ annual Prospect Camp, coach, Joel Quenneville said; “The kid that might have impressed me the most was the Slavin kid (Josiah Slavin), his brother plays for Carolina. He looks like he could be a player too.”
This season, Slavin will continue to serve God while playing college hockey at Colorado College, trusting in God to direct his path.