There are plenty of players in the NHL more than a foot taller than Nathan Gerbe; 44 of them, in fact, suited up for an NHL game last season. And yet Gerbe has made it. He’s a veteran of nearly 400 NHL games. He has almost 60 goals to his name, and he’s closing in on the 150 point mark. He’s scored in the playoffs; he’s scored the goal that got his team there to begin with. So he can play.
One of the newer members of the New York Rangers knows just what it takes to succeed - particularly because he’s had to battle for it his entire life.
In Gerbe’s piece for the Players’ Tribune, he goes into detail about how his parents gave him the work ethic he needed to survive; how he learned to start hitting other players - however futile it may have ever been - and learn to look forward to playing against a guy like Zdeno Chara. He described how he was able to succeed, even though people doubted him every step of the way.
Probably the most moving passage, though, was his advice for anyone small.
Your journey will not be easy. Let me repeat: It. Will. Not. Be. Easy. I always say that "normal-sized" people only have to prove the doubters wrong one time — shorter athletes have to do it every single day. You’re going to want to quit. You’re going to hate yourself. You’re going to doubt your love for the game — I know I did during those postgame runs in front of my dad’s car, or after waking up early to run hills. But I had drive. I had vision. And I knew I wanted it more.
He has an edge most people don’t, and being 5’4 wasn’t going to take that away.
Out of all the new additions to the Rangers this off-season, Gerbe may not be the most exciting pickup - but he’ll definitely be a great one to watch.