Letter to My Younger Self

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Brendan Shanahan, Guest Contributor - The Players' Tribune

Hey Dumb Dumb,

I’m you in 27 years and I’ve been asked to write you a note on the night before we get drafted into the NHL, so I’m going to fire a few tips at you. These tips are a one-time thing, so don’t ask me why—just do them:

Before you step foot into the Draft tomorrow, the Miami Vice look is an ugly fad! Get rid of the cream blazer and green slacks. Buy a plain blue suit with white shirt as soon as you wake up. These photos will follow you for the rest of your life.

Immediately after getting picked—you’re going second, by the way—forget the handshakes and interviews and convince your new team, the Devils, to trade up before Quebec chooses a smallish guy named Joe Sakic. You’ll thank me later.

You will be suspended several times. Don’t say anything too stupid about the poor League Disciplinarian afterwards. You’ll see why one day.

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Your agent is awesome. When he tells you that it’s responsible to invest your signing bonus in a thing called a stock market, he’s correct. But this time, just wait until after Oct. 19, 1987. Timing is everything.

In a few months, on the night before your first game in our hometown, Toronto, don’t meet all your friends at the high school dance. You are a damn professional athlete! Actually, nah, nevermind. That’s awesome, and will provide endless entertainment for your teammates when you’re stupid enough to tell them where you were.

Soon, your teammates will “initiate” you. They will warn you, and when they do, hide all the heat rub in the dressing room. Should you fail to hide it all, do NOT run to the shower. Water makes it hotter.

Only Bill Cosby looks good in loud colorful sweaters. Put it back on the shelf.

Don’t get that haircut you are thinking about. You have Fred Savage hair. Accept it.

Also, you know the cartoon How The Grinch Stole Christmas? Well, you look like a character from Whoville whenever you try to grow a beard. Shave.

The song Hungry Eyes will haunt you. Not saying why. You’ll see.

Call home more often even if it means paying $3 a minute in quarters at a pay phone. This is one of the last times in your life when you won’t be inundated with LOLs, :)s, LMAOs and TTYLs. It’s ok that you have no idea what any of those acronyms mean. When you’re 45, you still won’t understand them all.

Near the end of your career, you will fight a tough guy named Donald Brashear, after he takes some liberties with your captain. You will finish third in the fight, but do it anyway. Many establishments still give you free beer for this.

You will be suspended several times. Don’t say anything too stupid about the poor League Disciplinarian afterwards. You’ll see why one day.

Lastly, I’m not giving you the details on the wins or the losses. Not tipping you off about the heartbreaks or the big victories. Part of the fun is not knowing how the story goes. But, if someone is interested in you in 27 years, that’s a decent sign that there’s a good story here. (Or … things didn’t pan out and you went directly into journalism).

Either way, enjoy it all!

Work hard. Make us proud.

-Older You

Brendan Shanahan is the current President and Alternate Governor of the Toronto Maple Leafs. In over two decades as a player, Shanahan won three Stanley Cups. He is a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. ​This piece is the first in a series of letters The Players’ Tribune will be running that are written from athletes to their younger selves.

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