On June 26, 2022, Josh Manson held the Stanley Cup high over his head and skated around Amalie Arena in Tamp Bay. Josh came from a storied NHL family, but he attributed his faith in God to making him a champion.
A Good Guy
Josh didn’t grow up in a religious home. His father, Dave, was a 16-year NHL’er, with a reputation as a fighter. Josh didn’t have any friends who were Christians; he didn’t know anything about Christianity.
He was a good guy and well respected in his college days. Coach Jerry Keefe served on the coaching staff at Northeastern University during Manson’s time as a Husky. “He had such a presence to him, and he was so well respected by that guys followed. Josh’s leadership paved the way for the success we’ve had as a program.” Josh appeared in 99 games for the Huskies. He was named captain in his final season before joining the NHL through the Anaheim Ducks organization.
When Josh was in college his mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 melanoma and was only given three months to live. After receiving the tragic news, Josh pleaded with God that if He healed his mother, he would live his life according to God’s purpose. His mother was given four treatments of a trial drug and beat cancer. “It was a miracle, and God did that. There’s no other way to describe it. And I did not fulfill my promise that I made to God.”
He met his future wife in Newport Beach, and discovered that she was a strong believer and came from a family of strong Christians. He recalled his prayer to God. His now wife, Julie said, “If you want to be with me, this is a part that comes with me. It’s a huge part of my life — loving Jesus.” He was taken aback by it at first because he didn’t know anything about faith. He knew he loved her.
So, he had to make a decision. From there on he started pursuing Jesus and reading more about Him. One of the books he read was “More Than a Carpenter” by Josh McDowell. Before this he hadn’t put much thought into Jesus Christ. “Then you read these books and you’re given facts about how Jesus was here. Look at all the evidence that lies before you — how can you say Jesus is not real?”
“After surrendering to Christ, I needed to make some changes in my life. When you grow up in the locker room and you have that locker room talk, you don’t realize how bad it is because you’re accustomed to it, but it’s bad. Making that change was the easiest thing for me to do — change words that I normally said to be different words. But then I saw other things in my life that needed to change. Guys started to take notice and poke fun, but in the grand scheme of things, I was confident in what I was doing, so it was easy. I had people around me who were in my corner, who believed in me and were walking the life I wanted to walk, which made it easier.”
No Cream Puff
Josh is no pushover on the ice. I like that about him. He has a reputation as tough to play against and a player who sticks up for his teammates. “When you step onto the ice and somebody does something to get you mad, the only way you know how to respond is to fight. Taking that urge back has been a weird transition for me. I try to watch my mouth first and foremost. If I need to fight, that’s part of the game, but I need to keep my talk as pure as I can.”
Enroute to the Stanley Cup win, Josh’s team faced the Edmonton Oilers. His dad was a coach on the Oilers. One of the Mansons was going to have his heart broken and it ended up being Dad. But as dads know, if your loss is your son’s gain, it’s not a loss at all.
When Josh held his baby daughter for the first time, he thought, ‘Wow, this is how Jesus loves me. If my child ever walked away from me and distanced herself, that would make me so incredibly sad. I would want to bring her closer to me. That realization really brought things into perspective for me because I know my Heavenly Father feels the same way about me.”
Josh is the latest NHL story of faith. Read Brantt Myhres’ story here. The NFL outshines the NHL for supporting a culture of faith but the light shines brightest in the darkest places.
Who impresses you in the NHL? Who has a story of faith that you know? Please leave a comment below.
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