Following his successful career in the AHL and NHL (playing for the Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators, and Phoenix Coyotes), Yip made the move overseas to Germany for a season. Then, as a free agent with the ambition of embracing his Chinese origins and represent the nation at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Yip left Germany and signed a contract with Chinese club, HC Kunlun Red Star of the KHL. His journey, his work ethic and his mental game continues….
“When you’re young you assume you’ll play in the NHL forever. My last season in America, I was on a two-way contract with the Coyotes but, due to a series of injuries, I never really got my game together in the NHL or the AHL. The competition is so intense, every year there’s a new crop of young players who are fighting for their chance in the NHL and looking for their moment in the spotlight. All the same, I’m happy that I was able to play as many games as I did in the League, even though it was my time to move on.”
Everyone finds different ways to get their mind in the right place. For Brandon Yip, when he is going through challenging times, there are consistent practices he relies on to help find balance, reduce stress and find clarity. Over the course of Yip’s career he has come to terms with the fact that mindset and the mental aspect of the game cannot take a backseat to the physical side, and often times in order to improve physically the psychological has to come first.
“I like to go on walks or runs to clear my mind. Once I get back from my walk or run I will then relax and try and think of solutions to solving my problems or whatever it is that is stressing me out.”
Focusing on the solutions has become his key rather than just staring at the problems. Learning from his mistakes, and understanding the root of his problems leads to finding solutions, then from there – it’s about simplicity and not overwhelming himself.
“I like to step back, try and understand why I am having bad games and come up with solutions. I also like to simplify; maybe focus on only 1 or 2 things that I can do great in the next game and try to execute it. Once I start executing 1 to 2 things then I can start to add 3 to 4 things. Then before you know it your good habits are kicking in all around and you are already playing better. I also like to practice harder and concentrate on every detail in practice so that it will transform to the game naturally.”
As a senior at Boston University, he captained the national championship squad which was full of other elite players and big personalities, like Kevin Shattenkirk, Nick Bonino, Colin Wilson and Matt Gilroy. Then, as he moved through the ranks of the minors and in the NHL despite being younger and not always seeing the same amount of ice time as others, he was still considered a leader amongst his teammates through his consistent work ethic, and the way he carried himself on and off the ice.
This culminated when he made the move to the KHL in China where he has not only been a top performer on the ice as the Dragon’s captain, but more importantly was voted by hundreds of other athletes in the league as the most respected player in the league. It is also a testament to his off the ice status that he has truly become an ambassador for Chinese hockey. This is increasingly more apparent as the Beijing Olympics draw nearer and the media look first to Yip as a catalyst for the growth of the game in the nation.
“I believe leadership is essential to become successful. I’ve learned over the years that being a great leader is doing everything you say you’re going to do. You can’t preach and demand certain values and not abide by them yourself, otherwise nobody will respect and follow / ride with you. I vocalize my leadership when situation calls for it, but at the end of the day leading by example carries the most weight.”