Jaccob Slavin and the Carolina Hurricanes are no strangers to the NHL playoffs, having been there each of the past four seasons. Yet, they’ve advanced as far as the Eastern Conference Finals only once, in 2019.
Three games into the 2022-23 regular season (all wins), the Hurricanes are no longer simply “happy to be there.” They have their sights set on bringing the Stanley Cup back to Raleigh, North Carolina. The 28-year-old Slavin, an eight-year veteran leader and Carolina’s alternate captain, believes he and his team have the pieces to do just that.
Three goals that period 🤌 pic.twitter.com/bBiTXCS4sr
— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) October 18, 2022
“I’m super excited for this year, obviously,” Slavin said on a recent episode of the Sports Spectrum Podcast. “After last season, we had an ending that we felt was a little premature (a second-round exit) with the team that we had, so that was definitely a bummer, but this offseason has been great.”
Carolina stormed through much of the regular season a year ago, posting a 54-20-8 record, the most regular-season wins in the history of the franchise. But All-Star goaltender Frederik Andersen suffered an MCL tear and missed the playoffs, and the Hurricanes could not find their rhythm in the second round against the New York Rangers.
In an effort to avoid a repeat of last season, the Hurricanes made a number of offseason moves, including trading for 37-year-old defenseman and 2016-17 Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns in July. He had to approve the trade, which he did in pursuit of a Stanley Cup title.
“I’m coming to a team where winning and having a chance to win it all is really all that matters right now,” Burns told ESPN after the trade in July.
Slavin, a 2019-20 NHL All-Star and 2021’s Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner, is coming off a career-high in points a year ago (42). He will be playing alongside Burns to fortify the Hurricanes’ defense and is excited for the pairing on the ice and what it could mean for Carolina’s Stanley Cup chances.
Yet Slavin is even more excited that Burns has joined him and his wife, Kylie, on their trips to church. Slavin talked extensively on the podcast about the platform God has given him as an NHL All-Star to spread the Gospel in his own locker room and in his community. It is his true purpose.
“Hockey is what I do; it’s not who I am,” Slavin said. “It’s an awesome job but I think the great part of it is just all the, for lack of a better word, connections that I’m able to make to be able to go and spread the Good News.”
The Bible verse that drives him to be bold in his evangelism and living out his faith, Slavin said, is Galatians 1:10: “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
“I think I always knew before I came into the league, like, ‘OK, this is where God has me and this is the platform He’s given me,'” Slavin said. “‘These are the abilities He’s given me, so I want to use those first and foremost for His glory.”’
1 John 4:10 “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
— Jaccob Slavin (@Jslavin74) April 20, 2019
Slavin, who along with Kylie sponsors children with Compassion International, mentions Galatians 1:10 and writes “All glory to God” in his Instagram and Twitter bios. He is even one of the players helping to organize a players-led Bible study over Zoom this season. The plan is for the group — formed from the ever-growing community of believers in the NHL — to meet twice a week to discuss Scripture and build each other up in faith.
The truth of who Christ is, what He’s done for him and how much God loves him hit Slavin in a new and more powerful way in the spring of 2019, when the Slavins adopted a newborn child, Emerson.
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Jaccob and Kylie have since added a fourth member to their family, Charlie, born this summer.
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“It’s unconditional love toward Emerson and unconditional love toward Charlie,” Slavin said on the podcast. “And then you think about how God loves us unconditionally, and that He sent Jesus to the cross to die for our sins and now we’re adopted as His sons and daughters. Then you throw in the aspect that God’s a holy and perfect God while we’re sinners loving another sinner, but He’s a holy God loving us and adopting us when He didn’t have to.”
The Hurricanes know they have a team that can win a Stanley Cup this season. It may be Slavin’s best opportunity yet in his eight seasons in Carolina, as he and many of the Hurricanes’ other stars are in their primes. Slavin also knows he has the freedom to work toward that career goal so vigorously every day because his ultimate acceptance in Christ can never be won or lost.
“I know God loves me, I know God’s approved of me, I know I’m His servant, so I can go out there in freedom to play the game with the abilities that He’s given me to play it,” Slavin said on the podcast. “I can go out there in confidence knowing that whether I suck or have the best game of my career, it doesn’t matter to Him.
“He wants my heart in the right spot and He wants me just to serve Him and to glorify Him.”
Carolina’s next matchup is Thursday at 9 p.m. ET against Edmonton, as the Hurricanes seek to begin a season 4-0 for the second consecutive season.
– SS PODCAST: Hurricanes’ Jaccob Slavin on identity, hockey, fatherhood, adoption
– Lady Byng winner Jaccob Slavin thankful to God: ‘It’s Christ living through me’
– MAGAZINE: Carolina Hurricanes’ Jaccob Slavin Is Truly At Home
– SS PODCAST: Blue Jackets defenseman Nick Blankenburg on following God’s plan
– Vancouver Canucks goaltender Spencer Martin displays Christian faith on mask