Question: Along those lines, if someone in your life who was young — whether it’s a son or a nephew or niece or anyone — came to you and said, “I want to be a pro athlete,” what would you tell them?
ROBITAILLE: “Actually, I’ve been asked that a few times. To me, it’s very simple. If you want to be a pro athlete, once you get to a certain level, everybody is great. Once you get to be a pro, it’s not just about being good, it’s about being a good pro athlete. You don’t want to just make it. You want to stay there. What’s the name of the Raiders quarterback, the left-hander from L.A.”
ROBITAILLE: “Yeah, Marinovich. He made it pro, but he never really made it. So you have to ask, `How much are you willing to do in order to make it?’ Then, on top of that, `How much more are you willing to do, than everyone else?’ If you’re willing, every day, to work harder than everyone else and be better, the odds are that you’re going to make it. But that’s got to be within your heart. It can’t be your dad or your coach saying, `You’ve got to work harder’ It’s got to be you. That doesn’t necessarily always just working. How much earlier are you willing to go to bed?
“I remember being 18 years old, and all my buddies were going out in the summer. I was skating every night. I had a girlfriend, but I had to tell her, `I can’t see you,’ because I was willing to do more than all my friends. Some of them were better players than me. So to me, it’s how much more are you willing to do than everyone else? At the same time, it can’t feel like work. It’s not easy, but it’s not work. It’s a passion. Parents ask me sometimes about their kids. You know, `What do you think? Do you think my kid has a chance on the ice?’ And you can clearly tell sometimes, when they’re 12 or 13, that one kid is a lot better. But my first question is, `How hard is it, when it’s a 6 a.m. practice, how hard is it to wake him up?’ (They say,) `Oh, it’s really hard.’ I say, `Well, let him have fun.’ They always look at me weird. It’s because I was up, you know?
“My dad couldn’t wake me up to go to school, but I was up for practice. He would be so mad at me because I was up. (laughs) Because he couldn’t wake me up to go to school, but I was up at 5 for practice, sitting on the bed saying, `Let’s go.’ He would be so mad at me. But it wasn’t work, you know? So that’s the thing. You have to like it that much.”