When you're part of the organization surrounding a sports franchise that makes it to the playoff finals in its very first year, you'd really expect your own brother to be happy for you. But what happens when your brother belongs to the organization that owns the other team?
That's the unlikely scenario that Steven Duffy, Director of Global Partnerships with the Vegas Golden Knights, found himself in after the Knights dispatched the Winnipeg Jets to advance to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season. Meanwhile, Patrick Duffy, Senior Vice President of Global Partnerships at the Washington Capitals and Monumental Sports, has been paying close attention to his younger brother's success, despite being busy cheering on his own team's playoff run.
The unexpected (sibling) rivalry
Neither brother saw this situation coming. When, prior to the season's start, Steven mentioned the possibility of a playoff meeting, Patrick shut him down in big-brotherly fashion, "I told him he was crazy, that they were an expansion team and had no shot at the playoffs" with Patrick's response now being a humbled, "Boy was I wrong."
However, even now, Patrick's confidence in his organization is bullet-proof, calling the Capitals ownership "second to none," and claiming that in a couple weeks time, he would "make sure to send Steven a photo or two from Pennsylvania Avenue with a few thousand of my friends."
Steven is no less certain of his own team's ability to come out on top, although he knows the finals series will be far from easy. "It may get a little heated," he said of the rivalry. He referenced Patrick's time with the Tampa Bay Lightning when they won the Cup in 2004, saying, "I feel it's time for the younger Duffy to finally bring home the ring."
Above all else, respect and sportsmanship
Despite their competitive natures, both brothers graciously admit that the situation is a win-win for themselves and the teams they represent. Steven called Patrick a "trailblazer in the game," and said that his own career has benefited from things he's learned from his older brother. Patrick, meanwhile, has no shortage of admiration for what his brother, along with the Golden Knights, have been able to accomplish over the past year.
In addition to their respect for one another, both Patrick and Steven embody true sportsmanship by acknowledging how important teamwork has been in getting their respective organizations to where they are now. Steven expressed appreciation for the loyalty of fans and partners who "were taking a big chance on a first-year team," while Patrick called the support that the Caps have received nothing short of "tremendous".
Activated partners (and pizza on the line)
Patrick shared how tremendous their partners have been in getting behind the team and having some serious fun along the way. He stressed that there has never been a better time to activate a Capitals partnership, and rightfully so. Steven certainly agreed as well--expressing an unparalleled level of support, both locally and nationally, from their partners that took a chance on a first-year team. Needless to say, those partners are all thrilled that the team and staff significantly delivered. Some of them have even joined in on the fun.
Michael Bobys, COO at Executive Media Communications, a local agency representing Papa Johns, agrees with the overall sentiments as well--he felt that the connections between these two teams are incredible from top to bottom.
"If you think about it you have the GM overlap, two brothers who are such big parts of their respective team's sponsorship units, and Papa John's has a 50 percent off deal tied to each team winning. One city is certainly going to be exulting in half off pizza by the end; I just hope it's the Caps, given Papa John's 21-year relationship with the team, and of course being a Caps season ticket holder myself!"
Competing off the ice
Patrick and Steven have a level of mutual respect and admiration for one another which reminds us all to stay humble, whether you're directly competing on the ice or for market share with your product or service.
Any competitive landscape is always going to be a fierce battleground and both Duffy brothers give us a dose of reality to face adversity with respect--and win with it, too. Having that level of respect as a foundational characteristic will allow you to easily build on other leadership capabilities as your business continues to grow.
What does Mom have to say?
At the end of the day, the brothers' mom Marci Gray has the right perspective on it all. When asked about how it felt to choose between her sons' teams, she gave this answer: "What a fantastic problem to have! To be fair, I will have to support VGK when I'm in Vegas, and the Caps when I am in DC. But if we end up in a game 7, all I can say is may the best team win!"
Well stated, mom, and congratulations to both Duffy brothers, the Capitals, and Golden Knights.