Who’d have thought that Boston Bruins centre David Krejci was a student of Hillel?
Or that the ancient Jewish sage knew how to tape up a stick, or shepherd’s staff, or whatever they called it back in the days when King Herod was commissioner of the league?
Late in the first period of game six of the Stanley Cup final, Hockey Night in Canada commentator Glen Healey made reference to Krejci’s game philosophy. The Bruins were leading 1-0 at the time and trying to even the series.
As the camera focused on Krejci’s stick, Healey recited the aphorism Krejci had written on it.
There in black marker on white tape were two lines adapted from Hillel: “If not you, then who?” And, “If not now, then when?”
Pretty clever, but Hillel had him beat by 2,000 years, give or take a decade.
Back in ancient times, even before the Original Six, Hillel came up with something similar in a best of 613 mitzvot series against Team Shammai.
In the words of the late great sage, who we’re told could dangle with the best of them: “If I am not for myself, who will be? And when I am for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?”
Team Shammai had no answer and Hillel was credited with the sweep.
In 2013, Krejci’s Bruins fell to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games.
With his season over, perhaps Krejci now has the time to study a little more so he can build on what he knows.
Maybe next year, he’ll get Tuukka Rask to adorn his stick with more wise words from Hillel, like, “If you make one key save in a deciding game of the Cup final, it’s as if you saved the world.”
Or at least extend it to Game 7.