George Harrison, now known as the quiet Beatle, spoke one of the greatest quotes I’ve ever heard, and one that goes often unrecognized. A man who had every reason to be jilted by the super group that formed around his childhood friends, instead would become a pillar of stability when the ego’s of the one to his left and the one to his right bubbled to a boiling point. I’ve often wondered if the Beatles remained in tact simply because Harrison was there. His presence, his commitment, his unbridled desire to be the best he could be – he was more than just the quiet Beatle, he was a leader.
He said this, at the height of his bands popularity.
I wanted to be successful, no famous.
Believe it or not, there is a difference between those two things, and George knew this.
Success is simply defined as the accomplishment of an aim or a purpose. By stark contrast, fame is about being well known. Breaking those two words down causes you to understand what Harrison was committed to in his professional life. His goal was to be the best guitarist, songwriter, bandmate he could be. His success was measured by how well he accomplished those goals rather than how many records he wrote or how many fans he attained. Along the way, yes, he became famous, but that was secondary to honing his craft according to the parameters he had set forth. Success was the goal.
The Oklahoma City Barons had a singular voice when the season began. Even with the uncertainty of a lockout, Barons players, coaches, and staff members trumpeted loudly the desire to complete some unfinished business. The business they were referring to was a chance at the Calder Cup. The sour taste of just missing out of the Calder Cup Finals in 2012 lingered well through the summer months and into training camp. Despite a lumpy season, they’d make the playoffs, take a run at getting to the Cup Finals, and again fall just short. For some, it’s easy to announce the failure of their goal, and say that with the goal of AHL Finals play being missed that they weren’t successful. I can see that, I really can. However, let’s return to George Harrison.
Harrison wasn’t the greatest songwriter ever, but he wrote beautiful songs. He wasn’t the most naturally gifted guitar player, but he had a unique way with which he traversed the six strings. He didn’t posess the most beautiful voice, but he had a sensitive tone that perfectly complimented his internal battle with God, life, and the world. Despite not being “the best” in every facet of his life, he was the best version of him.
The Oklahoma City Barons circa 2012-2013 didn’t win the Calder Cup, but they had one of the best April/May turnarounds in recent AHL history. They weren’t the most skilled offensively in the postseason, but Arcobello, Rajala, and Hartikainen scored nearly a point a game (or better) through sixteen amazing matches. Todd Nelson isn’t the most crafty of coaches, but he’s always the most prepared. Like the quiet Beatle, the Barons were the best version of themselves, and that equates to success in every language.
“Neal, it’s minor league hockey. Why speak in such epic tones?” you might ask. Good question. Hockey is first and foremost about entertaining people. We sometimes forget that as fans. We get wrapped up in salaries, wins vs losses, suspensions, and chatter that we devalue the reason sports exist in the first place – simply for pleasure. But there’s an undercurrent in sports, especially minor league sports, that is even greater than entertainment. That’s identity. Who you are, what you are, how you are – things that are fully realized by living life.
The Barons exemplify the stingy spirit of the city in which they play. I’ve always found that amusing and entertaining, that there indeed is a hockey culture in this state despite the lack of fans in the seats. Oklahomans have never been famous for much, but they’ve been successful in a lot. One of those successes is tenacity of spirit. The OKC Barons bled this mantra as well in 2013.
Fame, success, and the difference between those two is pretty far. Despite not being famous, they were successful, and in a weird way, that’s more important than winning Calder Cups. Thank you, Barons, for demonstrating success. We applaud you.