What Makes You Happy?

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What Makes You Happy

 

I haven’t written in a long time, part of me felt like it was maybe because I’ve been doing better. I haven’t been feeling as depressed. My life had seemingly come together, even if just the slightest. I always told myself that when hockey ended, I was going to become an author, a literary wizard; I was going to write every day now that I had a bit more time. Well, hockey’s been over for about six weeks, and I am just starting to write at 10:56PM Easter Sunday.

Sure, I’ve been busy with things in the meantime, but if anyone knows me, busy, is not an excuse. If you want something bad enough, you’ll find the means to do it. Busy doesn’t exist in my world. It’s not because I don’t ever do anything, in fact, that’s probably quite the opposite. I probably have more going on than most folk. Actually, I could almost guarantee that. I just don’t feel the need to let everyone know how I preoccupied I am. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. It makes me sick when people say they are too busy.

Why? I remember years ago, my sister tried to chat with me through Facebook, through simple Internet chat… and, I recall looking at the messages, the message read something along the lines of hey, call me when you got some time, want to know how college is going. I looked at it, thought, meh; I’ll call her later… I am busy. I never called her. And, I don’t know if I ever talked to her again. She committed suicide a couple of months after, and I’ve never been too busy since.   So when people tell me, they are too busy. It doesn’t sit well. At all.

So, to say that I haven’t been writing, because I have been doing well, or because I have been doing poorly… I don’t even know the answer. Sometimes life has a tendency to just happen, and just leave me trapped in the motions that I just can’t comprehend the appropriate emotions, and feelings.

I know that writing provides me with the single most joyous experiences of my life. So, you would think it’s easier to do so. But… for some reason, it’s been getting more difficult, and for the first time, I feel like my writing is actually good. In the past, all I did was write about how I felt. That’s it. There was no scientific method to it; there was no English specialty behind it. Simply, just how I felt. I have such a difficult time re-reading my pieces, for a variety of reasons… mainly because I feel such a huge disconnect with the person who wrote that very piece, but also because… I think it’s shit. I looked earlier, and I have posted 47 entries to GAB. This being 48. I can honestly say that 1 was of quality, Your Move Chief. So, as much gratification as writing brings me… I don’t know if it’s from the actual writing, or the feedback. As pathetic as this may be, I seek so much approval, and accreditation, from… whomever, predominantly from my mom, and from my fiancé…. It’s pathetic, if I don’t hear anything within a day or so, I am texting those two asking what they thought… It drives me crazy that I do this. But… I do. And, I can probably recap every single compliment, or piece of positive feedback I have received from my blog. There is truly nothing, and I mean NOTHING more gratifying than when I hear about people who have read my blog, and find comfort from reading. Whether, I know them or not. I spend so much time wanting to write, then I spend such little time actually writing, and I conclude with spending even more time looking for approval on my writing. From, my family… my fiancé… my best friends… my friends… strangers… When, I receive this, it’s pure happiness. Joy. Elation. You know that feeling where you just can’t wipe that smile off your face. This is the only time I’ll feel it. So you’d think I’d write more, with this being the case. But, truth is… I think I have become a bit scared. My unrelenting life standards have once again trapped me with failure. Where, I need simple accolades. However, that’s slowed down significantly. I don’t know if it’s because my writing has gotten stale, or the content has. Or maybe, I am just without the random viewers from Europe. Or, perhaps, the people who have already graciously patted my back don’t feel like they need to tell me good job every single fucking time. Though they shouldn’t. However, I feel like, unless I get that… I am failing. I want to know what every single person thinks of my writing, even if they think it’s complete crap. I just want to know… because; I think it is too, I can’t even find myself appreciative, and satisfied with my own work.

So, in getting to the point of this entry… the great folks at Mind Your Mind proposed the question, what makes you happy? I thought about it for a long, long time. There are so many things that I enjoy, so many. But, to label them as something that makes me completely happy would likely be false. I think at any point, doing makes me happy. Regardless, of what it is that I am doing. I think sometimes you can find temporary joy in that, and I do. But, I tried to really think of something that makes me truly happy. True joy. I almost couldn’t think of anything, till I thought about writing, then I thought about all of the positive feedback I have received over the two years, and the people I have been able to help, if even just to help them temporarily. This has brought me pure joy, and continues to do so. It’s the only thing that allows me to feel self-pride, and self worth. Regardless, of the success I have at work, or in coaching sports, or my daily life even. I always seem to be stuck wanting more, and eventually get a place where good just isn’t good enough. But, with writing, that’s different. Even, if I receive two notes about my latest post, to me it was a success, and it provides that feeling. That feeling where I can’t stop but smiling, even if it’s a random stranger at an arena that says, “hey, you’re the guy that writes that mental health blog” … Yes, I guess so. These are the things that keep me ticking, and continue to remind me just what it is to feel joy, and to feel good.

You just hope that somehow you can find a way to enjoy, accept and appreciate your own bravery and work. Sometimes there is just far too much pressure on writing purely for the audience, and hoping to help them find joy, and hope. I need to find my own first.

Rest easy, and rest happily Max. I hope you can still find some time to read my blog, and I hope that you’ve found true joy.   I know you and Jen are hanging out as we speak. Listening to music, watching over us, and laughing at us.

2015 McEichel Cup – Getting Past the Tanks

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I absolutely love hockey, I always have. I have been following the NHL for as long as I can remember, and as an Oiler fan, I am completely fed up with losing, and disgusted in the losing culture that surrounds that team, and some of the fan base. But, in all my time being an Oiler fan, and going through these miserable last few years. I don’t recall them really ever blatantly throwing the season to get their first overall pick. They just were… bad. Or, maybe it’s cause at the end of the line, there wasn’t a Crosby, a Toews, an Ovechkin or a Malkin; a generational player, or maybe it was because there was no worry about the Oilers as a business. Fans were going to keep coming no matter what. Not so much in Glendale, or Buffalo.   Or, maybe they see that McDavid seems to be averaging five points a night in the OHL lately, or a Eichel who is far the best player in a league composed of men.   Whatever the motive, the reward; the possibilities of landing either of these two young men is far outlands finishing the season with a little pride. So, starting goalies, out the door you go, you’re holding us in it too much. Top defenseman, centerman, go, go go!!! We can’t have you. So, the rest of the season lands on the shoulders of young kids who aren’t anywhere near ready, or older guys who probably are falling off the give a shit meter. So, these teams, and the NHL promote losing, help facilitate a losing culture, and then on the notice of 2015 training camp, players are expected to return hungry, motivated, disciplined and doing all they can to promote a culture of success, and winning. After the ownership basically just robbed them of any opportunity to do that just six months ago.

The NHL needs to change this. I can’t imagine it does any good for the players that are left on these teams that are picked over more than a hallmark after valentines. Especially the young guys that are on these teams, their limited NHL experience is that of a losing one, and where losing is totally fine, and completely acceptable., and just ask Sam Gagner… all of those sudden you’re half a decade into your career, and all you know how to do is lose and eventually you’re going to just become okay with that. Take a look at the successful teams in the NHL, they all have young players on the rosters that they’ve drafted, wherever, developed and have since insulated around great players.   Detroit, Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Rangers… You go through the standings of the league, and you can name two young impactful players on that team, but then you can find two older, more experienced impactful players that are insulating those guys.   Probably almost every team except the Oilers, even the Coyotes and Sabres up until the last 12 weeks. Till they traded all of the decent, older players they could, and now the team is expected to fail miserably, all on the shoulders of these young players. Great way to develop your future. How about the older guys that have worked their bags off, dream of one day winning a Stanley cup and now they find themselves on a team that’s been set up to fail, and that will be a defining success.   After seeing the Coyotes trade away most of their valuable roster assets, and the Sabres doing the same, hell the sabres traded both their starting goalies cause they were keeping them in games! Now, it will be a race to see who can free-fall further, and the media loves it.   It’s become a competition, one where the lamest efforts will be rewarded. It’s sickening, and it’s unfortunate that this is the case. I can’t imagine this is a productive environment for the players on these rosters, or the people paying to be fans of these teams, or the kids in the area that are growing up watching, idolizing these teams. Intentionally failing does not get rewarded in any world outside of the NHL, at least that I know of anyways. But, these kids are being taught that maybe it’s ok. And losing is OK, but doing so intentionally is not OK. Players make the NHL because they worked harder than every one of their peers. Now, they’re being handcuffed by their bosses and isolated in an environment with virtually no chance of success. I truly believe there has to be a better way around this. I agree that the lowliest team should be in the running for the top draft picks at the conclusion of the season, but there has to be a better way to reward a team with McEichel then the team that tanked faster, and harder. I can’t in any way relate to Connor, or Jack… but if I were them, I don’t know that I would have any interested in going to play for Buffalo and, or Phoenix after this. The 20 guys on their roster were just handcuffed, and lost 17 of 20 games so they could get you. Awkward? Probably. Not to mention the losing culture you’re throwing these kids into.

So, with all of that, here is my proposal to get around this free for all.


McEichel Cup

28th Edmonton Oilers

29th Arizona Coyotes

30th Buffalo Sabres

 

  • These three teams will enter a mini series that will take place following the conclusion of the NHL season.
  • The highest seeded team will host the series.
  • Each team will play each other once, both being H and A away once.
  • The highest seeded team based on record, then head to head result, plus/minus will then be rewarded the #1 overall puck
  • The second seeded team will then be rewarded the #2 overall pick
  • The third seeded team will the be rewarded the #3 overall pick
  • The rest of the teams outside of these three, will then resume with the regular NHL draft lottery, with the top available draft pick being #4 overall.

Mock Results

Day 1 – Edmonton (4) Vs Buffalo (3)

Day 2 – Arizona (1) @ Buffalo (3)

Day 3 – Edmonton (2) @ Arizona (0)

Team W L PTS GF GA +/-
Oilers 2 0 4 6 3 3
Sabres 1 1 2 6 5 1
Coyotes 0 2 0 1 5 -4

So, with this… The Edmonton Oilers are winners of the McEichel Cup, and will be rewarded the #1 overall pick. The Buffalo Sabres finish second, as the defeat the Coyotes so they receive the #2 overall pick, and the Coyotes will pick #3 overall. Carolina Hurricanes will lead the lottery percentages for 4th overall.

So with this… I wonder if the Coyotes are so quick to trade up some of their star players, or if the Sabres are so quick to put their starting goalies on the first plane out of town. If these two teams were so motivated to move these assets, then I bet it yields them a much higher return than a goalie that just has a pulse, or a few late round picks. Instead of these teams doing all that they can to subtly lose, and see that culture take over. They motivated to win. All of the guys probably want McDavid in their room next year, but probably not at the expense of their own season. So, let’s have a tournament, where the winners get McDavid and Eichel. Not the biggest losers. Someone has to finish 28th, 29th and 30th in the league. But, it shouldn’t be a formula 1 race to get there. It causes too much damage along the way. Aside from changing the notion of lose for big reward to win for reward, what’s wrong with a little added revenue from ticket sales, TV contracts, etc. You can’t tell me the media wouldn’t eat this up! Are you kidding… McEichel cup right before the playoffs, what a great way to kick off the post season, and you know what… adds a little consolation to the Shane Doans of the world after the miserable season he just stuck through. Sure, he might not be around to play much with McDavid, but you can say he had a big part in Connor being there, and that would be a good thing.   Three days is all we need. Give everyone the Sunday off after the season ends, allows for travel for these three teams, and then on the Monday, McEichel Cup starts. It’s done Wednesday, playoffs fire up Thursday. As a fan, I would love to have this take up some of that filler time leading up to playoffs, wouldn’t you? Wouldn’t it be exciting watching this. It would be the most meaningful hockey the Oilers have played in half a decade, and the most the Coyotes and Sabres have played in some time. I’m sure initially there would be some pushback from teams, that they’ve played 82 games, guys are hurt, etc, etc… Well, That’s great. This is part of your losing culture. They are 16 other teams that prepared to play another 28 games with whomever is healthy enough to tie their skates, all to accomplish a childhood dread. You can play two more games.

Right away, we’ve eliminated the losing cultures, the tanking, and the circus that has followed. Games are still fun for the guys on these teams, the end of the season is fun, there is something to look forward to at the end of the year. Not just wishing for that last regular season game to come quicker. Something to play for, I bet Brian Gionta and Shane Doan wouldn’t mind this. Alternatively, I bet the Sabres probably don’t have as many off-ice issues with guys. Maybe Zadorov shows up on time cause there is still some meaning left in the season. Still some winning and competing to be done.

I almost puked when I read a quote from Don Maloney last week that justified his team’s horrible season, and their transactions. “Least there is a big reward for us at the end of the year” It shouldn’t just be there. In life, you don’t make it anywhere if you aren’t willing to work hard. You don’t make it by throwing in the towel. The NHL and the draft should be no different.

The NHL Lockout; Robbing Our Dreams.

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I have decided to take a few steps in a different direction for this entry.  Hockey is my ultimate passion. It’s something I have loved since I remember seeing the Bruins roller hockey goalie pick a puck out of the corner and through a meat lover up to some oiler who probably sniped.  I think I was 4? Maybe.  I don’t know.  We must have just been flipping through the TV from watching the PBR, or watching 8 seconds. Again. Lane Frost was my hero. My dad was a bullrider back then in the day, so to me, the coolest thing at the time was rodeos.  Till he showed me hockey.

Fast-forward 19 years.  I’ve spent 19 years playing hockey in any way shape or form you can imagine.  In my driveway with a mini stick when I was 5; in our gravel driveway on some small street in Mayerthorpe albeit.   I used to go outside with my mini sticks and a tennis ball and pretend I was both the Ottawa Senators & the Mighty Ducks. I have no idea why those 2 teams.  Anyway. I was both of them in my driveway hockey. And, I’d also be the commentator.  Picture this.  Small-cowboy town Mayerthorpe, AB, here is this pudgy 4 foot zip five year old basically running line touches in a muddy driveway with a mini stick in his hand while yelling to himself “He shoots! Oh no! What a save!” Then, the odd time, I’d think I was Guy Hebert and I’d get on my knees, in the dirt and somehow shoot the ball at myself and make a huge save.  Sometimes I scored on myself though. Hated when that happened.  But, seriously. Picture this.  If I saw something like that now, I’d probably think.. man, does this kid have parents ? Cause they have a handful… or, maybe not.  It’d be pretty cool to see someone love the game that much that young.  So, yes. I found way to play hockey in any way shape or form. Table hockey, mini hockey In the basement, kitchen, tub, bathroom, living room, front lawn, back lawn.  Wherever!  Then, as I grew up and finally learned how to skate (still learning) I played on the ice. Finally. While, continuing to play everywhere else too. Pond, street, back yards.  My buddies and I used to go over to his place and we’d have 2 on 2 tourneys on the grass. Chris would go in net cause he was too good to play out, and frankly, he was too good to play goal too.  But, we’d start this tournament at 4pm after school, and we’d play until either the cup was won, or my mom called asking me if I forgot where I lived.  I think we started these tournaments when we were 13 or so, and we played them up until a few years ago. We just got too big, slow, and out of shape to keep playing. And Chris continued to just get way too good. But, we’d play under the lights, we’d keep score, have legit round robs, and have leading scorers.  Man, what a time.  And if I didn’t win. I’d get some pouty.  But, not as pouty as our buddy Brett would get.  I think that’s why we went on the same team most of the time, cause otherwise we’d fight each other.  And, still we bickered back and forth about who wasn’t pulling their weight.  Some of these grass hockey games got so intense that there would eventually be bodies flying, I can remember it got pretty nasty one time, and a buddy took a run at another guy, who turtled, and sent the one guy flying.  Well, I can’t remember who it was. Evan maybe? But, he certainly didn’t forget that hit; later in the playoffs he caught him against the boards (the fence) and put him right through the fence.  Knocked the planks right out. Then about 8 of us, who were enjoying our game off and resting up, instantly began howling. Here a buddy just drilled another guy through his fence.  You’d think we’d be like “holy shit!” and concerned… Nope. We started howling and carried on play as soon as buddy got up. And, off we went.  It was a battle. It was probably playoffs.

Man, did we ever have some fun back then.  Looking back, I miss those days so much.  Sitting through science 10 waiting to get to chris’ place and help him clean the ice (mow the grass) so that we had the best playing surface. Haha… who am I kidding.  He cut the grass, I sat there and taped my stick and drew up the tourney board.  To this day, I think I am the all time leading grass hockey scorer.

Hockey is something that has had a serious impact on my life. My life, my buddies lives. Everywhere its hockey. This is a game we grew up on, and invested so many hours upon. That’s why this lockout has been such a disappointment for me.  I haven’t said much about it. Im not angry with either the players, or owners. Really. Frankly, I don’t think the owners have the nuts to speak for themselves so they bow down to pigeons like Bettman.  Who, I am angry with. But, all in all, I am just disappointed.  As a fan, I just feel like after investing all this time into this game, I have been given the ultimate fuck you by the man who ultimately runs the show. Unfortunately.

I think being disappointed is almost a worse feeling anyways.  I just feel bad for so many people.  I don’t feel bad for any of the owners, I don’t feel bad for some of the NHL players either.  At least, not the one who are pocketing millions.  The lesser of the NHLers who are now “out of a job” instead of “out of a season” Them, I feel horrible for.  The guys that have to grind to keep their job. The stars, although, I certainly appreciate their skills and talents, and by no means do I fault them.  But, they are making millions of dollars playing a game in front of thousands that I used to play by myself in the mud with a plastic stick that was half my height.  While I yelled to myself in the process.  So, no.  I don’t have any sympathy for you either.

I feel sorry for the kids who are just playing the game because they love it. They aren’t making a big pay cheque, they are playing the game for one reason.. Because they God Damn love it, and are good enough, and have worked hard enough to play the game at a high level.  Although, they may never make the NHL, and might play in central league, the east coast, or wherever else forever, and make minimal money doing it, living in a shitty town. But, they do it cause they love it.  I feel awful for these guys because now they are going to lose their jobs, they are going to be robbed of there dreams because, ultimately, Bettman needs more money.  So, some guy in the ECHL is going to have to give up his dream.  Playing hockey.  Because of the domino effect of NHL players going to the AHL à AHL players then go to the ECHL à ECHL players then go….  I feel horrible for these folk.

I feel terrible for the kids growing up on hockey like I used too, that want so much to learn to the game, and be apart of hockeys future, they are being robbed of a season, an opportunity to learn about something great. The greatest game.

I feel terrible for those guys who put on there steel toes and head to work at the crack of the dawn, and spend weeks away from there family and friends in the middle of nowhere working harder than anyone should.  And, all they can look forward too is coming home and watching HNIC with there kids, or heading to the pub with some buddies for some wings and a beer and a chance to shoot the shit while they watch there team.  I feel bad for these guys.  They don’t deserve this.

I feel terrible for the young kids, adults who have jobs at NHL facilities shitty jobs like being an usher, or a concession attendant, a beer boy, hell, even the cheerleaders.  They are likely working to pay for some tuition, or some stupid textbook, or, to even just get by on the 12.50 an hour they may get.  Now, they too are jobless.

I feel terrible for some of the families of these players.  The players are left to move somewhere overseas to play hockey, and take away the job of some other kid. Meanwhile, the wife, and the youngsters are left somewhere in North America while the husband, father is away at work.  And after the tragedy that happened last year in Russia.  This I think must be even more difficult for families as per usual.  As per usual.  That’s terrible.  We can already refer to an action during a lockout as “as per usual” because this is the third damn time Bettman has taken this away.

Hockey is a passion for a tonne of people including myself, but its more than that, it too, is a job, and more than anything, it can be a dream for so many kids, and a dream that some people are fortunate enough to live.  And the NHL/NHLPA has no problem taking that away from some of us.

Thanks Gary.

Do the right thing.

– Blair.