There are no Xs and Os in Lorne Korol’s playbook, but it could be just as important to Winnipeg Jets players as the one in Claude Noel’s pocket.
As the team chaplain, he’s responsible for providing "spiritual mentorship" to the players throughout the season.
He was no doubt called into action from afar on Thursday after defenceman Zach Redmond had his femoral artery and vein on his right leg sliced open by a teammate’s skate during a drill. As he was rushed to the hospital for what would be three hours of surgery, some of the players prayed for him. Later that day, they were able to hold it together long enough for a 4-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Korol holds a chapel once every homestand for a small group of Christian players – usually between four and six – but he is happy to provide his services to whoever seeks his help on a variety of off-ice issues.
Korol was offered the job by Jets co-owner Mark Chipman back in the Manitoba Moose days. The two got to know each other through their daughters, who play sports together. Korol is also the team chaplain for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and the Winnipeg Goldeyes.
He doesn’t buy it when high-profile athletes, such as Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker, Ray Lewis, talks of God being on his team’s side. It’s not that God isn’t a Jets fans, he’s a fan of all teams, he said.
"We pray for the spirit of competition," he said.
If anybody thinks Christian hockey players are soft, they've got another thing coming, Korol said. He pointed to Calgary Flames captain, Jarome Iginla, and former Winnipeg Jet, Laurie Boschman, as two examples of players of faith who would be just as happy to run over you as go around you.
"Former Bombers coach Dave Ritchie used to tell me that he thought Christian players were even tougher than non-Christiams because when they were backed into a corner, they weren't alone," he said.
Korol pointed to another football example, former Bomber linebacker Barrin Simpson, a vicious tackler who said he loved everybody away from the stadium.
"But he said, 'there ain't no love on the field,'" Korol said.