Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2 – David Backes (St. Louis) and Jim Nill (Dallas)

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Second Round Series between the Dallas Stars and the St. Louis Blues

The second round of the NHL playoffs are well underway and since my beloved Bruins find themselves again on the outside looking in, it is time to fine reasons to cheer on some of the other teams that are still in it. I hope to share several posts like this in the coming weeks as we come closer to seeing a new NHL champ crowned.

Last night, the Stars won in overtime to even their series with the Blues at 2 wins a piece. Living Up to My Name would like to share a couple of stories with you about why we would be OK with either team winning this series. It comes down to these 2 great stories.

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Jim Nill the player, 13 seasons, 5 teams, 500+ NHL games played. Gotta love the “V is for Vancouver” jerseys they wore

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Jim Nill, NHL executive – 4 time champion and now leading the Dallas Stars

First to the Dallas Stars.

Jim Nill was drafted by the St. Louis Blues, so he has a history with both teams in this series. He is currently the General Manager of the Dallas Stars, responsible for assembling the players on the team and negotiating their contracts. He has served as the GM for the past 3 seasons, and has helped the Dallas Stars become a top contender in the league. During his playing days, he appeared in 61 games with the blues and over 500 NHL games in all in with 5 different teams. After playing, he moved in to scouting with the Ottawa Senators and then the Detroit Red Wings where he was part 4 Stanley Cup Championship teams (1997, 1998, 2002, 2008), earning promotion to the position of Assistant General Manager.  As you can read in this article from Hockey Ministries International, during his time playing with the Winnipeg Jets, Nill became friends with Laurie Boschman and Doug Smail, two Christians on the team.  That friendship led Nill to participate in the HMI hockey camps and their influence, along with his wife Bekki who had been praying for him for 20 years, Nill became a Christian. He says “knowing Christ has completely changed my life and brought a feeling of peace to not only me but my family“. And as I have shared many times on these pages, a faith in God does not remove the challenges or hardships that life brings. Instead, he just shows up to walk through them with us.  In 1999, Bekki Nill was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. She went through treatment and was Cancer free for years. But in May, 2011 the cancer returned. She was given 2 months to live. Check out her story in this video from the Dallas Stars.

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Jim and Bekki Nill drop ceremonial first puck and discuss the battle she has been fighting with cancer.

Nill took the job in Dallas with his wife’s encouragement, but God is definitely the priority in how he is living his life and doing his job. Check out this article from the Boston Globe, where we learn that Nill “begins the year with a meeting in which he brings in the chaplains and introduces them. He explains his faith.”  He adds “I’ve been exposed to it (chapel services) now and have a strong faith, so it’s easy for me to say, ‘Why not have it?

My main takeaway from Nill’s story is this:

Live out your Purpose –  Jim Nill talks about how cancer has affected his family’s life. He says “Even as she (my wife) goes through this illness, she knows it’s not about her, that it is God’s will and His journey. If the journey is made for her to touch another person’s heart, she is willing and able to do that.”  God rarely takes all the obstacles out of our path. Instead, he makes his presence evident in the midst of the struggles so that we realize that only through Him does our life have purpose. His purpose is for us to know Him and tell others about Him. Our story is His story lived out for others to see. How can He use your story to draw others closer to Him?

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St. Louis Blues captain David Backes

And now to the St. Louis Blues.

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Backes is currently 2nd on the team in goals and 3rd in scoring in the playoffs.

Team Captain David Backes has had a solid career so far. Backes played high school hockey at Spring Lake Park High School, which is about 4 miles away from my house, where I am writing this article. He was a second round draft pick by the blues in 2003 draft. He played college hockey in Mankato and made his NHL debut in 2006. He was named captain of the Blues prior to the start of the 2011-12 season. He has played in over 700 NHL games, all with the blues and has represented the USA internationally at 2 olympics and 3 world championship tournaments.  All that he has experienced in hockey go far beyond what Backes ever imagined. As you can read in this article from Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Backes didn’t imagine himself as a pro hockey player, and now looks for opportunities to share God’s love with those in the game and around the world. Check out this video of Backes and his wife bringing the gift of hearing to children in Kenya. The article says that the trip “brought Mark 7:37 to life right before them: “They were extremely astonished and said, ‘He has done everything well! He even makes deaf people hear, and people unable to speak, talk!’”

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David and Kelly Backes taking hearing aids to kids in Africa

As you can read in this article from FCA Magazine, Backes grew up attending church but when he went away to college, his parents began to grow in their faith. This triggered a similar growth in Backes’ faith. He now regularly attends chapel services with the Blues, as well as a multi-sport bible study in St. Louis, lead by former NFLer Grant Williams.

Backes says “In my faith walk, I’ve needed to surrender and recognize He has a bigger plan for me. This is not my own will, and I am right where He wants me to be.”  Where Backes finds himself right now is the Captain of a Stanley Cup contender battling against the Dallas Stars presently for a chance to move a step closer to the Stanley Cup – far beyond his wildest dreams.

My takeaway from Backes’ story is:

God’s plan is Always bigger –  I touched on this earlier when I talked about Jim Nill and how God can use our story to tell others about Him. But to be honest, when we stop and take stock of the adventure this life has lead us on, it is hard to believe how God has worked all the details out for us. He accomplishes far more than we can ask or imagine by his power at work in us. (Ephesians 3.20) He does have a plan for each of us and His plan goes far beyond what we could imagine. So choose to follow Him and then brace yourself for the adventure of a lifetime!

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