Thank You Canucks.

Uncategorized

image3

Canucks,

I want to thank each of you for the last seven months. I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my coaching career to have had an opportunity to work with some phenomenal teams, and players and I’ve had a blast in many of those years. However, I can honestly say the last seven months has been the most I have had enjoyed coaching minor hockey.  It was funny, the day after we lost out, or maybe it was that night. I can’t remember. I was just sitting on the couch with my wife, watching TV. And I recall just sighing in almost disbelief, and I just muttered… I loved that team. I didn’t expect any response from anyone. I was kind of talking to myself. But, Amanda turned… looked at me, and I could see just how proud even she was of us, and she just said… I know. I could tell all year how much fun you had coaching these guys. I know you enjoyed it. This exchange may not seem like much, but for me… it meant the world, because it was the honest truth.

 

I think back to the spring when I was first asked to coach Midget AA, truthfully, I let my ego get in the way and I declined. Thought, I’ve only ever coached AAA, I can’t do AA. It’s just not for me. Boy, was I ever wrong, and I am so thankful I was called a second time and asked again to coach this team.

 

It was important to me, as it is every year to create a team of character, and good people from good families so I did as much homework prior to the season as I could. Following tryouts, I was thrilled with the group we had, and knew… this is a special group. Now, though our season has ended two weeks quicker than we hoped, I still believe that. I couldn’t be more proud of this team, and every single player. I know for a lot of guys it would’ve been really easy to just pack it in and screw around all year long because it was “Midget AA” and that’s the stigma that’s often associated with Midget AA. But, you didn’t. Not even once. You guys gave us a chance to coach you, and trusted us. Even though I’m sure there were times you thought maybe screw this, or what the hell are we doing. I know we pushed you guys hard, and never once did you guys show any inclination of quitting, though it would’ve been the easier road. You didn’t. Even those late Friday night 8:45 practices, followed by Saturday 10AM practices, you guys gave us everything, and I know that we demanded a lot from all of you.  Everything we asked of you guys, you believed in the process and you did it. From dryland, to continually giving back to the community throughout the year. These aren’t things that should be typical of Midget AA teams. At least not in my experience, but you guys have set the standard in my opinion and I believe it all comes from the deep character of this group. It was refreshing to coach a group of kids who played the game hard, and for the right reasons, for their teammates, and for the love of the game. You just don’t see that very often anymore.

 

I want to thank you guys for everything. I hope that you have been able to learn as much from Geoff, Rye and myself as I can assure we have learned from you guys. Above all else, I hope you guys had fun playing hockey, and have found your love for this great game again and continue to enjoy the game. You’ve spent a lot of time putting in work to this game, and I believe it has the opportunity to take you to great places. Whether that’s on the ice, or off the ice. I truly believe that each and every one of you has an incredibly bright future with whatever path it is you choose. I’ve seen the character, I’ve seen the work, and I’ve seen the resilience. You guys are built for success, and it will find you. As we’ve said all year long, this is a truly special group. This is a group I would go to war with anytime.

 

Lastly, parents. I want to thank you for everything you have done for our team. You guys have been incredibly supportive; it’s been fun to watch. You’ve all done such a terrific job raising these young men. You should be very proud of each of them. They truly gave it all they could this season, and they did it with no one watching except you parents, and us coaches. That is what was so enjoyable. They weren’t playing for anyone or anything other than themselves, and their love of the game. I always believe that a group of parents can help make a team successful, and can often help sink a team even faster. But, I never felt that with this group. I’m sure there were many times you guys were pissed about something, and there were times we made mistakes as coaches but you believed in us and gave us your full trust, and support and I want to sincerely thank you for that. You’ve all done more for this group than you know.

 

I will always consider this group my extended family. I know we’ve been saying this to parents, and players since day 1, and I still mean this from the bottom of my heart, this is truly just a special group. One I will always remember, and always feel very fortunate that I had this opportunity as a coach. You guys have helped me find my passion for hockey, and for coaching once again. I am forever grateful to you for that.

 

Everything we did this year… all the work we’ve put in, all the triumphs from winning the Edmonton tournament, to our fifteen game undefeated streak to the struggles, the injuries we were always overcoming, trying to find our way after the Christmas break, and ultimately our battle with the Rangers that in itself was full of elation, and despair.   It’s all been worth it.

 

It’s honestly been such pleasure, I am forever grateful for the chance to coach this group; I think I speak for Geoff, and Rye as well. Thank you all for the opportunity. It’s been one hell of a ride. Every moment. Thank you.

 

We’ll always be family. Thank you.

 

Coach

Parents.jpeg

 

 

Advertisements

#FREEJOHNSCOTT

Uncategorized

Ok. Rant Time… #JohnScott, #NHLAllStarGame.

First off, I must admit I have distanced myself from much of the All Star Game as a whole, and the John Scott disaster.  I think the game itself is a dollar driven waste of time put forth by Bettman & Co. It’s a long, grueling season. Guys have families they spend a lot of time away from. I’d sooner see the NHL just give the guys a week off of work. Monday – Friday. Though, as much as this may benefit the players, and their lives. It doesn’t benefit the bottom line.

If you’re going to have an All Star Game, have an All Star Game. Sure, let the fans vote. Let them vote on the jerseys, or give them a range of players to vote from. Don’t let them just vote for anyone. I thought we would have learned this lesson with Rory Fitzpatrick. If not then, I thought we would have learned from our peers mistakes in the MLB when nearly the entire KC Royals roster was the AL All Star Team. As much as we want to include the fans, and push for engagement, input and opinion… Fact is, the people voting this often are people sitting behind their keyboards with nothing better to do. I’d argue how much we should really invest in said fan.

As we know, there are three parties in this soap opera. John Scott. The Fans, and the NHL. I believe truly, all three have seriously dropped the ball, taking us to where we are. I want to feel bad for John Scott and his wife – pregnant with twins. I really do. But… I just can’t. The ounce of sympathy I have is derived from that he never should have been put in this awkward spot in the first place. If not for the mindless keyboard jockies clicking “Vote John Scott” continuously as they watch oil prices drop to a cent more than the can of dud beer in their hand, we wouldn’t be having this discussion anyway. However, John Scott should have bowed out of this thing many moons ago. And, if he choose to ride it out, he should have got off the horse at least when the rosters were released and he looked across his very own dressing room to see that he was going to the supposed All Star Game instead of his teammates… Domi, Duclair, Boedker, Hanzal, Doan, Rieder, and or Ekman Larsson. That should have been enough to say, ya ok…maybe I don’t deserve this as much as some other guys. Whether they want to be apart of it or not.

But… John Scott choose to go along with the whole thing, despite hush requests from team, and the league to quietly bow out of it. Then… John Scott get’s demoted to the AHL, then traded to MTL, then demoted to the AHL again.  In what some people saw as a way to bury him, and remove him from this mess if he won’t remove himself. This is where I couldn’t disagree more. Let’s take a look at Mr. Scott’s contributions to the Yotes…

1. John Scott has played 11 games. Coyotes have played 44. Ok. So he’s dressed in a quarter of his teams games.

2. John Scott has 1 assist in his 11 games. In those 11 games, the Coyotes have won 5, lost 6. This a team that is 22-17-5.

3. In Scott’s 11 games… They have managed to score 32 goals. Scott’s managed to get the puck to goal scorer once. Oh, and it was against the Oilers. Actually it was a great play by Scott. He nearly toe picked when he picked up the puck perfectly laid out by Chipchura. I think he was stunned that all the Oiler backcheckers just flew right by him, either that or he got dizzy.  Scott then shoveled one into Nilssons chest, and I mean literally shoveled it. If you can imagine the motion of shoveling snow off your driveway and flipping it into the snowbank, that’s what he did with the puck.  Honestly.. Nilsson for some reason proved doubt to the old mantra “every goalie has a good chest” and left out a brutal rebound. Goal. Assist to Scott.

4. He averages 6 minutes a game, in his 11 games played. 6 minutes… Without looking, I can imagine that none of those minutes are against any line other than the fourth, and half of that time he spends running around trying to hurt, hit or fight someone. He sure isn’t out there for any defensive, or offensive advantage.

5. Oh, in those 11 games… He has 6 shots on net, 3 blocked shots. Only in 3 games has he even thrown 3 or more hits. Only in 1 game has he thrown more than 3 hits. Against the gigantic Oilers. In fact… in 6 of the 11, over half his games.. has he thrown a single hit or less. On a team that averages 21.6 hits a game.

Oh.. and if you tell me he is only there to protect the stars, and fight… he has fought once this year.

The most useful thing John Scott ever did for the Coyotes was be part of a trade that fetched the return of Jarred Tinordi.

It’s incredibly clear that #JohnScott belongs… well, nowhere near anything remotely All Star related. It’s even more clear to see he likely doesn’t belong even in the NHL anymore.  Collecting a paycheck 1,000% more than most of ours.  Years ago when there was a need for a enforcer only type player, sure… but those days are gone. He has contributed absolutely zero to this Coyotes team. So while we are all appalled, and sympathetic towards Scott that he’s been “buried” from the All Star Game, and his NHL career may be over… I think we should be more appalled that this game not only is, or was taking someone’s all star spot away… More than that, he’s been taking a spot on an NHL roster from someone who is far more deserving than he is. To me, that’s the injustice, and that’s the crime here. I don’t even think the guy belongs in the AHL to be honest with you. So yes… #FreeJohnScott.  Please.

Now while, I agree with you the NHL botched this whole thing, and it’s probably humiliating for Scott and his family… He brought this on himself long after those boneheaded fans kept clicking vote when he then refused to say, thanks but no thanks and bow out.  I have heard He’s got twins on the way, that’s great. Very happy for him, I am sure he’s an excellent man, and an excellent father. However, I fail to see how this relates to his sudden omission from the ASG, and make’s it any more tragic.  Wouldn’t his time be better spent at home with his family? Perhaps now he can do that… Or, take the opportunity for a free holiday in Nashville the NHL has offered. Can’t imagine how many people, especially in these times would welcome a paid for vacation for their family in Nashville.

Mr. Scott… You took the job as a NHL player, and Mr. Scott you’ve been taking that job from someone far more deserving for far too long, and reaping the rewards. So I am sorry when I say you are now perhaps where you belong, and I feel very little sympathy to you. I wish you and your family the best, and hope that all goes well with your coming twins, but it’s the NHL, and you don’t belong.

Mr. Bettman & Co… It’s maybe time to clean this ASG crap up?

#NHL #AllStarGame #FreeJohnScott

The Unfortunate World that has become Spring Hockey

Uncategorized

For the last eight years, I have spent the bulk of the fall and winter coaching minor hockey. From community bantam, minor midget aaa, to bantam aaa and finally midget aaa. I have been very lucky in my brief coaching career to have the opportunity to learn from some very strong hockey minds, and build some special relationships.

My first year coaching in Calgary, I was randomly paired up with this big fuzzy blue noser… 8 years later, Geoff would stand for me at my wedding as a groomsmen. We’ve coached a number of teams together, and still to this day coach every spring together.

Then, there was the two years I coached Minor Midget AAA and had a tone of success with who is now the best hidden gem of the hockey coaches community; Brent Osmond. To this day, of all the people I have spent time with. He’s one of the best coaches I have ever been around from his knowledge of the game, to his ability to get the most out of every single player, and still push them. Guys would go through walls for Brent. I admired that.

Then, I spent a summer working at the Okanagan Hockey School where I got to work alongside some very good coaches who have had long careers both playing and coaching professionally. From Mike Needham, Dixon Ward, Barry Smith and Mark Holick. Some of these guys I only even spent a week around, and still learned so much. It pays off to be a sponge I guess.

Then, I locked into the next four years coaching with Tyler Drader who gave me an opportunity to join some really special hockey teams, and coach some very, very talented players. I too, have learned so much from the years spent with Ty, always very patient, and fair when I sometimes was ready to fly off the handle, and write guys off, he was always the voice of reason…often was right. Certainly learned a lot about composure from Ty.

Each of those guys I mentioned above has shaped me not only as a person, but as a coach as well. They all had different strengths that I tried to absorb and mold into my coaching style. And while, I will be the first to admit that I am not the worlds best coach, or teacher by any stretch of the imagination, I do strongly believe that any quality of me as a coach can be directly traced back to my mentors above.

Now, with that all said… The last few years I have been immersed into spring hockey… for better, or worse. I’ve stuck with the 03 group the last few years, which at the time was a daunting challenge as 14 year olds was the youngest I’d ever coached, and I am horrible with kids, so coaching 10 year olds seemed like a terrible idea. But, I can honestly say I absolutely love every second of coaching with these kids. When we are on the ice together, or at the rink together. I don’t know if I’ve enjoyed coaching more. Part of it, I think is because of the group of core kids we’ve had the last couple years. They are such good kids, and most of them are want to learn, want to get better and willing to put in the work required.

Sure, we aren’t the best team around, I don’t know that we will ever win any major tournaments, and frankly… this might shock some of you to hear… I really don’t care if we ever win a “major” tournament with these now 12 year olds. That may sound appalling, and terrifying for some of you parents to hear. But, I really don’t care and here’s why.

Spring hockey has become a complete monster. A mess. I’ve always thought while coaching association hockey, boy, wouldn’t it be nice if there were no boundaries and we could pick whomever we want? Well.. That’s how spring works, and it’s a disaster. Granted, for me, the purpose of spring hockey is a bit different than that of association/winter hockey. The main goal is to of course, develop these players into fine young men, and athletes both on and off the ice. That’s a common theme in every sport, at every level. But, in winter, especially at elite levels, there’s more at stake. There really is, there’s scouts, and more scouts, agents, more agents and pretengents, then there are managers of teams, and coaches of teams from the next level, and then there are websites, and basement blogs with their meaningless opinions. However, there is still a pressuring desire to win, and there are true major, prestigious tournaments to win, that speak volumes about the kids that win them. I’m talking… Alberta Cup, John Reid Memorial, Western Canadian Bantam Championships, Sutter Cup, Macs Midget Tournament, Pacific Regionals, and perhaps the holy grail of minor hockey… Telus Cup. This may too also shock some of you spring hockey parents that I don’t have the Winnipeg Spring Tournament, or the Vancouver, or the Regina one in my list. Forgive me; I don’t even know the names of these tournies. But, these truly are not major tournaments.

All those people that relatively matter I mentioned above, you know… the scouts, coaches, managers, etc… They know each and every single kid that has won one of these prestigious tournaments. I could almost guarantee you that 98% of them… have no clue who won those spring tournaments; if… they even know that they exist. Sorry.

So, I guess what I am trying to say is that winning, and team success if far more of a premium in winter hockey, and far less of one in spring, or at least it should be.  But, the emphasis of spring has been misplaced with parents on the front lines of this movement. Whether the place the emphasis on winning as a result of fear, and intimidation from these spring groups, or the just simply have no clue. But, I’ve even had a parent tell me winter hockey is a waste of their time, they just wait for spring hockey. The 9-10 weeks of it. Also have had parents tell me that practices are useless, and they will only come to half of them, but all games. I kid you not. I’ve had multiple parents tell me both these things, and worse. It’s all ass-backwards.

In all my years of coaching AAA hockey, when we get to camp and get these long lists of registrants, and players that are trying out for our team. These sheets include most of the following information.

  • Name
  • Position
  • Previous Team

That’s it… and previous team is their previous winter team. No place, nowhere is there mention of their spring team, how many points they had, or what tournament they won in June. And trust me, no coach knows, or cares if he played spring hockey on a bronze team, a super elite team or didn’t play at all, perhaps he played baseball. They care only about 1 thing… Can this kid play?

Unfortunately, throughout the levels of spring hockey, many parent’s have concerned themselves with one thing, and one thing only when deciding where to play. Best team. Regardless of what team little Jonny wants to play in, or where his friends are, or what coach he likes best… Dad wants them to play on the best team. Why?… He’ll tell you cause his kid will get better playing on the best team. When truth is, kids going to eventually end up not having a tonne of fun sitting on the bench, or going through the pressures of being this super super team for the ten week spring season, so the kid eventually ends up losing his fire for hockey, and worst case… they quit at ten years old, which is beginning to happen.   Heartbreaking. All the while, these kids are quitting, other families are scared to leave these super duper teams because for some reason they feel their son will be later blacklisted from what… I have no idea.

In fact, just recently… had a family quit my spring team in favor of another supposed “elite” team out of another province. After they screwed us around a few times, trying to play on both teams. They ultimately decided to join the super elite team, we had recently just beat… when I asked why? … They had signed a contract that made them commit to their team, and their team only. Yes. They were forbidden to play for any other team, or miss practices of this super team. So I asked what would happen… Are you going to get sued, or go to jail if you play with us instead and miss their practice?

“…No, I just am not ready to burn any bridges with them yet”

… Don’t want to burn any bridges with a team based out of another province, coached by some random group of guys? …Ok. Wasn’t a fight worth fighting.

Three months later, I reluctantly declined to coach the winter team that player would be trying out for.   Talk about burning bridges. Yikes. Close one. Maybe the kid learned more with these other guys, or had more fun. In which case… Fair enough. Fine with me. Fortunately, if the kids good enough, I’d take the kid, regardless. Coaches can’t hold grudges, and should never blackmail parents. Gives you an idea of how some of these parents think, and the games some of these coaches, and programs play. Who the hell makes an 11 year old sign a contract.

I don’t understand why the parents do this. It’s like holding their kids hostage, if they don’t want to play there… don’t make them play there. Just so mom and dad can hold their nose up in the air, and show off their nice pretty jackets… who cares? That jacket won’t fit soon anyway, and your kid is no longer having fun with hockey, so he’s not learning, not getting any better… and anytime now will fall behind every one else as a result. Or, worst case… He quits this great game. Good job Dad.   But hey… you have the swag still.

I wanted to keep this short, but I got fired right up the last few paragraphs. My point is here folks, see spring hockey for what is, a place to develop, stay on your skates and get prepared for the next level until he gets to bantam and there’s no longer the need for spring. It’s not about winning, sure, winning is great. Who doesn’t love it, but the more important thing in my mind about spring hockey, is simply getting better and each kid has different things that make him tick, and help him develop. The one common theme amongst all of that is; having fun. If kids are having fun, they are learning, developing and in the right environment… plus, they’ll love the game, which makes coming to the rink every day fun.

When I was this age, there were two options for playing spring hockey. If you were a phenom from Edmonton area, you played NAA. If you were a phenom from the Calgary area, you played Foothills. If you were neither, which was majority of us were. You rode your bike around in the spring, played baseball, roller hockey and road hockey. Good enough. Now, there are 15-20 teams just per age group, per freaking city! It’s crazy. Which, has of course led to this crisis and disaster. So with there being that many teams, of course parents unfortunately have to make decisions.

I can’t speak to the decision making process of which team your 8 year old plays on… Frankly, it should be a baseball team somewhere else… but when it comes to these 03s, who next spring will be beginning their transition into contact hockey the following fall. It’s a very important year; don’t just put your team on Team X because you believe it’s a better team. Isn’t what spring hockey should be about, nor does the best team automatically make for the best route for your son.

Please, for the love of God, hockey and your kid’s passion…

Let him find a team he enjoys being around, regardless of the prowess of his fellow winger.

Let him find the coach he feels he can learn from the best.

Let him find the practices that he feels challenged in, and gets into your vehicle after every skate and talks about how fun it was the whole way home.

Let him be apart of the solution for the “weaker” team, and let him challenge himself instead of teaching him that you can just float by and win meaningless tournaments with your nose in the air. I miss the important lesson here.

Let him play with his friends, maybe!!!

….And for effsakes… why not let him display some maturity, accountability and make the decision on his own. Unless he chooses the team of delinqieunts, let the kid play where he wants to play. Not where you think there are better players. It will backfire, if that’s your only reason. If you meet all the criteria above, and it leads Timmy back to the snob team… then, that’s where you go and I am happy for you. It will work for some. Not all.

I’m sure you’re probably all thinking I wrote this as a recruiting ploy for my own team, and that was not the case. In fact, it’s quite a sad story why I decided I had to write this. Recently, I have heard of a number of these young kids, who are great players, quitting our game at such a young age, and to be honest… It crushed me. Some of them just decided to give up spring hockey altogether, while others just quit the game entirely. It honest to God, broke my heart when I heard this. It really did. It’s absolutely criminal. Hockey is such a damn fine game, and can provide so much for these guys in a lifetime, even if they end up playing beer league with their coaches in fifteen years. Hockey will teach them so much, just let the kids play, and let them have fun doing so. They’ll learn, and this is where they will develop into good men.

Being only ever involved in winter hockey, it took me till spring hockey to realize this, but… winning really is not what it’s about. It’s about developing good people, and athletes, and hey… if you catch a banner, or a trophy along the way. All the power to you… Just do it when people are watching, and people watch middle of September –first week of April.

Good luck to all the kids at training camp in whatever league, or level they are in!

Have a great year!

What Makes You Happy?

Uncategorized

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

Uncategorized

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.

John Galts Speech

Uncategorized

It’s been months since I’ve wrote something in this blog outside of a minor entry several weeks back ripping into the few evil hockey parents.  I think about it every day, but I just can’t bring myself to write anything.  I can’t find it.  This week, I’ve had a few people reach out to me telling me to get back to writing, that it helps them.  One person told me they dreamt about my writing, and asked if I could start again soon.  Another asked me when the next piece was coming.  Another person asked to meet with me about my experiences fighting with my life.  I had another friend tell me I need to start writing again, to save my life, and to help save his.  I have all these amazing people around me that look forward to reading goneawayboys, and that thoroughly seem to enjoy my writing, and are always applauding me for it…  Yet, I have a hard time believing in it myself, and finding that quality and that safety to it.  I just write.  It’s amazing, and humbling to know that some people find great value in reading this blog, and for those of you, I am very sorry it’s taken me so long to get back to you through this blog.  I just needed some time to piece myself back together the last little while after nearly losing it.  Thank you, as always for your overwhelming support.

In the past I’ve said that I often will only write when I feel down, amidst a lull, when I need a boost.  On the flip side, I didn’t feel the need to write when things were going well.  That’s what I used to believe, anyways.  I’m coming to the realization that, that is just complete and utter bullshit.  I don’t write because I don’t want to do anything, except keep to my withdrawn self.  I don’t write because I feel like I don’t have the mental wherewithal to put anything of magnitude together. I feel tired. Weak. Exhausted. Scared. Withdrawn. Empty. Lost.  I don’t write because… because I am feeling depressed.

Why? Why am I depressed? Well, I don’t know that answer as much as I would like too.  Simple question, right? … I think I often lack the things that should create, and attribute to personal happiness.  Or maybe I haven’t made the choice to find happiness yet? I don’t know what happiness really means? Or, maybe it’s because my family has a history of mental disorders? Or, it’s just the hamster wheel running dangerously low on serotonin for the last fucking decade or so!  Simple Question… Yes, but complicated answer that I just haven’t quite figured out yet, and I don’t know that I ever will… If it were easy, I’d be able to solve this problem, because trust me when I feel like this, I don’t want too….  But, I feel like I sometimes have no control of it, I can only try to contain.

I’ve made myself believe that I only write when I need a lift, when things are going to shit.  That’s false.  I write when I am feeling better, when I have that drive, that energy, I write when I feel like I can help make a difference in not only myself, but maybe someone else.  I write when I give a shit about someone other than my own self, and their own demons.  I write when I feel like a human being.  I write when I feel.

I can’t write when I can’t seem to find myself outside of the fucking pits, when I don’t care about really anything, or anyone’s feelings other than my own, and I hardly care about my own.  I just succumb to my depression.  It’s like being back into a corner, with someone you know you can fight with a little bit of effort, but you just can’t find it in yourself… you back into the corner, and your stuck.  Out of batteries.  Out of juice. On empty.  It’s almost impossible to get out, or so it seems at times, at the worst of times.  I can’t write and be honest with you, when I am not honest with myself.  When I asked myself if I knew what things attributed to my happiness really were, to be frank… I have no idea what they are.  I drew a blank.   This blog, writing, having people read it, the reaction, the comments, the feedback, hell, the fucking pats on the back.  That’s happiness for me.  That’s it. That truly is it. Making a difference. The one thing.

“Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy—a joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that does not clash with any of your values and does not work for your own destruction, not the joy of escaping from your mind, but of using your mind’s fullest power, not the joy of faking reality, but of achieving values that are real, not the joy of a drunkard, but of a producer. Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions”

 Writing in goneawayboys and posting it publicly is that joy without penalty, the achievement; it’s what happiness really is for me.  The scary part is…  The only thing that truly defines happiness for me right now is…Writing… What…  Really…

When I am feeling at my worst, I become very elusive with others, and especially to myself.  I can’t find, or come to terms with what creates happiness for myself.  I know that it is writing, but when I am feeling empty, and disengaged, I can’t find that… even though I know, if I just get off the couch and turn on some music, read something, I’ll feel inspired and I’ll write something, and in turn, I find happiness.  Even if for a moment.  When you suffer from depression, you learn to take as many moments of happiness as you absolutely can.  Because, not often can I find them.

My best friend wrote to me in an email earlier this week something I have been replaying over and over in my head… Happiness is a Choice… At first I read it, and thought, ok, Well, I cho-cho-choose to be happy! … And it was as if I waited for some animated vortex to appear in the middle of the hallway and throw me a bag with happiness inside… When that didn’t happen, I waited for the genie to pop out of my Booster Juice and graciously grant me 3 wishes.  After waiting several long hours, I realized neither of these things were going to happen, and I went to bed disagreeing with Mother.  Happiness is not a choice.  It’s subjective.  It’s fake.  I woke up, still pondering that same comment, then that led to me questioning myself of what happiness really is, what does it really mean.  In school, in all those life management, and leadership classes we were always asked what success meant, and everyone had a different answer.  But, no one ever asked the question.  What IS happiness?  By definition, it’s the quality, or state of being happy.  Ok. Great. So what does that mean, how I do just be happy.  It sounds so simple. Why can’t I find it? Why can’t we find it all the time? What am I missing here? Happy by definition is the feeling of satisfaction, pleasure and contentment.  Sounds easy, but a feeling? Is a feeling permanent? Or, is this just a temporary relief from all things negative? I want to make the choice to be happy starting now ending when I die.  Not just for the next 20 minutes.  But, what creates this feeling… Money? Family?  Friends? Materialistic things? Fancy cars? Fancy jewelry? Mansion? Strength?  Self-image? It is what your friends have? Is it what Hollywood has? Is it whatever doesn’t kill us? Is it gratitude? Is it a fucking Choice?

Intrigued by this “Happiness is a Choice” … I dug a little bit further into what happiness really means outside of these wildly simplistic and vague definitions the internet has explained to me.  I read the “John Galts Speech” an excerpt from Ayn Rands “Shrugged Atlas” (Ok, I read most of it… It’s 43 pages in size 12 font)  Ayn Rand, Or John Galt the fictional character describes happiness as coming down to the choice of being either a rational man, or an irrational man.

“Happiness is a state of non-contradictory joy—a joy without penalty or guilt, a joy that does not clash with any of your values and does not work for your own destruction, not the joy of escaping from your mind, but of using your mind’s fullest power… Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions”

“The emotional state of all those irrationalists cannot be properly designated as happiness or even as pleasure: it is merely a moment’s relief from their chronic state of terror… But neither life nor happiness can be achieved by the pursuit of irrational whims. Just as man is free to attempt to survive in any random manner, but will perish unless he lives as his nature requires, so he is free to seek his happiness in any mindless fraud, but the torture of frustration is all he will find, unless he seeks the happiness proper to man. The purpose of morality is to teach you, not to suffer and die, but to enjoy yourself and live.”

I often find myself looking for a time machine; I want to fast-forward my life 10 years. I said the same thing when I was 14, and I’ll bet I’ll say the same damn thing when I’m 34, and 44.  I have a very hard time finding my own acceptance, and contentment. Galts Speech depicts happiness perfectly for me, it’s not about materials, and it’s not about money.  I’m frequently thinking if I just had more money, if I just had more materials, more muscles and supermodel physiques, I could finally be happy.  I’ve convinced myself I need to be wildly successful to have my family members be proud of me, for me to accept myself, and to otherwise simply avoid being a failure.  If I could accomplish this… I would achieve my personal expectations, but these expectations are completely irrational and I know that… But, I make the choice to believe they are rational because well, it happened to that guy. You shouldn’t need cars, a big house, and fame or widespread success to achieve happiness.  It doesn’t help the people that have all those things either; they always want something more, something is always missing, something irrational.  Thus, when you are unable to achieve these irrational goals, and expectations as soon as you believe you should… It’s a temporary relief of terror, and the torture of frustration pursues.   Often times, that is all I can find.  I dwell on myself constantly, beating myself up about why I am not doing better for myself.  I’m 24 years old.  I have pretty well anything you could ever ask for, but always for me it is never enough.  It’s a trap.  I always want more.  I got a good job, I want a better one now.  I have a nice truck. I want a nicer car now. My family says they are proud of me. But, I can never believe them because I am not proud of myself.  I’ll never know if Jen is proud of me. I’ll never ever know that. Ever. Yet, I feel like I need to know that to be happy.  I’ll never know.   It’s unrealistic, It’s irrational. It’s mindless fraud and torture.  This is why I fight find consistent happiness.  I struggle to create rational goals for myself, goals that are attainable that result in joy, joy without penalty or guilt.   Writing in goneawayboys is often the one rational goal that I have for myself that I am able to achieve multiple times.  I am able to use my mind to the fullest of power, not escape from my mind for temporary relief.

This is happiness.  In order to find constant happiness for myself, I need to become more honest and rational to my self.  Going back to the very beginning of this post where I used to tell myself I’d only write when I felt like shit.  No.  I don’t write when I feel like shit because I can’t.  Otherwise, I’ll continue to be an irrational man, and be tortured by frustration, and destruction.

Mom was right; Happiness is a choice.  

“Happiness is possible only to a rational man, the man who desires nothing but rational goals, seeks nothing but rational values and finds his joy in nothing but rational actions”

A letter to the kids & the parents.

Uncategorized

It’s OK to be THEIR disappointment.

Hello All,

Hope summer has been a treat for you all.  Mine has just concluded as of this past weekend with the kick off to another hockey season.  It’s August 12. And, I’ve already hit the 4-straight-days-on-the-ice mark.  Which, seems rather early.  Though it seems earlier each year.  However, I’m not really complaining.  It’s my choice. I absolutely love doing it. Each season is an absolute blast, thus it’s a little easier to get back to the rink August 12th.  I look forward to seeing some returning faces to the herd, and some new faces eager to make the squad and become apart of it.

The next 6 weeks are the toughest for us coaches as we spend hours upon hours at the arena, followed by hours upon hours at a table somewhere, sometimes at an arena, sometimes (If I am lucky) at a pub, and we try to get it right.  Then, we hit the sheets, only to wake up do our 9-5 and do it all over again.  For 6 weeks. But, we absolutely love it.  Though It’s taxing & exhausting, it does not compare to the pressures that these young men face. 13 & 14 years old.  160+ kids try out for our association, with our team being the pinnacle group.  For the first week, teams will scrimmage against one another, alternating opponents each night.  Easy? Sure. Queue, about 15 of us in the stands whispering to each other, and writing on our clipboards, making note of each and every play, and player.  Not so easy anymore for these kids.  We take 19 of that 160+. 19. That’s just over 10% of kids trying out will actually make the top team. And, that only then becomes step one.

It’s tough.  These kids are 14, and their entire year as a 14 year old basically goes into the arduous month long process of making “the team”.  There’s parents, There’s coaches, there’s friends, teammates, there’s teachers. All pressuring the players to DO BETTER!  That’s not all either, even at 14, there can be prospective agents (most of whom are complete rats), but oh there are scouts, junior coaches, bloggers, other parents especially whom love to have an opinion on a grade 9 student regarding his ability to save the day, and more importantly the city. “THIS kid WILL be the next 99. HE WILL.” “ARE YOU NUTS – YOU MUST BE HIS DAD CAUSE HE SUCKS!” …He’s umm 14 you guys…

He’s still learning the history of his very own country in social, then he’s just beginning algebra after he wakes up from that class.  Not to be outdone by the English teacher down the hall, whom is chomping at the bit with piles of “The Hounds of The Baskervilles” homework.  Then we go home and beg our parents to help us with all this surmounting work, and maybe do a book report or two because I have practice. And I HAVE to make the team.  How can I have time for all this homework?  I have hockey.

As part coaches who are fortunate enough to lead these fine young men at such a level, I am sure I speak for all of us when I say that family & school are always, absolutely always the first and foremost important thing when it comes to a young adults life.  Hockey is third. Regardless of the team you play on, or you want to play on.  And, if there is a coach out there who says otherwise, I want you to eat the grill of my F150, cause you deserve that and nothing less.   But, anyway, best of luck trying to tell these young men this.  You can tell them? But, realistically, how can you expect them to understand this right now?  They have more weight on their shoulders from their peers and surroundings then anyone else I know.  And, they’re just 14.

It’s not just bantam hockey players, I am sure this argument could be made for many different fields or sports just change the game and age if you please.  But, this is the world I see every day.

The pressures that are on these young men and women is terrorizing, utterly damaging.  It is no wonder the rate of depression & suicide continues to skyrocket in younger people, and continues to climb as one of the leading causes of death.  How can any kid be happy, or satisfied when expectations of them are absolutely unrealistic before their life has really even begun? When they’re constantly failing the readers, the dads, and the moms.  So ya didn’t make the AAA team? Or lead the league? So ya didn’t earn top student honors? So ya didn’t win the little league world series as clean up batter and pitch 7 straight like Dad told ya to do? So fucking what. What next? Your life is over? You’re a complete failure? You let dad down, you let mom down?  Fuck off. You’re a kid.  Do you know that just because you didn’t make the AAA team, or that you weren’t top student that you won’t earn a phD? Or be ridicously wealthy, or better yet happy because you created some kind of change that made this shitty place a better one? Do you know that these outcomes and more of the like are impossible, because at 14 you didn’t achieve a goal that someone wanted for you more then you wanted yourself?

No. Not likely kid.

Some of the best players I have ever had the opportunity to coach weren’t necessarily the most skilled, or talented ones.  But, they were the best kids. They were the best people. They smiled every day. They had fun. Sure, they had ups and downs, hell,  they went through life, life outside of the hours of practice in a week, but they had fun, they learned. It’s amazing how truly mature some of these young athletes can be, some 14 year olds seem like they’re 44 for fucksakes! These are the type of people you know that will succeed in life, whether it is at hockey, or whether it is at something entirely separate but you just know they’re on the right path heading for complete greatness.   As for par with the handful of these kids I’ve come across, you see it in their parents.  Their parents aren’t the ones attacking others in the blogs, they aren’t cohorting with the GM of the Saginaw Ice Queens every intermission lathering him with a Double Thai Chi fucking Latte in a double cup with a warm sleeve so Steve & Andy don’t burn a hole in their newly purchased designer leather mitts.  No. They watch their kids do what they love to do. Play. And, the only reason the kid loves to do that…. Is cause the parents let him just play.

So, my words to all trying to achieve a goal of making a team this season whether it be ours, or whether it be elsewhere.

Control what you can control. You can control your work ethic.  You can control your attitude. You can control your body language. You, unfortunately have absolutely no control about what us coaches talk about in the war room. You, unfortunately, unlikely have any control over your parents.  But, above all, you can control if you’re having fun or not.  If you’re not having fun, and you’re only doing it cause Dad wants you to.  Tell him to fuck off & stop.  You have way too much future ahead of you to waste time doing something you don’t want, something that doesn’t bring you happiness.  Control what you can gentleman, and enjoy it.  It’s a tough 6 weeks trying out for teams.  But, I can guarantee if you do not have fun throughout the process. You won’t be apart of the outcome you’re hoping for. Do it for you & no one else. It’s your life. Smile. It’s hockey.

It’s OK to be THEIR disappointment.

I’ll Have a Caramel Machiatto – A Personal Compromise

Uncategorized

Going to try something a little different tonight.  Usually when I write, There is something really pushes me to sit down and put something together, usually, I know its going to be one of those creative-therapeutic word-nights by the afternoon, and I generally put something together later in the evening.  Meanwhile, amidst this process, I light some candles, and turn on whatever Matt Good CD is of choice for the night, and I sit there, sometimes I pop a light beer, and I see what I can come up with.  There really is no science too it; if you’re wondering.  However, tonight, there was really nothing poking me to get up and write something, and I decided to put in something different than a MG CD.  My mom was kind enough to give me my sister’s CD book, which is one of my greatest treasures.  I know its something that meant a lot to her. Music has always been a really big thing with our family, especially the 3 of us.  But, I thought, hell, lets just grab a random blank CD out of here and listen to one of her burnt CDs.  It was really cool when I put it in, and the first song played.  Not really expecting much, it really just resonated with me. I could feel Jen; this was her music, a CD that SHE put together… It was almost like it was her on the burnt CD.  It was… one of those weird, yet good moments that I have with her.  There are times where I just know she is with me.  Whether, I am in trouble somewhere, or can’t figure something out, and all of the sudden, things just click… And, it’s so weird, but you just know.  You can feel it.

A few times in the past, In just going through my day, I will hear someone say something nearby, and I swear its her voice.  There are times where it’s actually quite eerie. These things, I never ever forget… It’s probably happened 4 or 5 times in the 4 years where I know I have heard her voice, and I remember every single time like it was yesterday, cause I know it was her just saying, What’s up kid.

When these eerie moments happen, like when I put on this burnt CD… It’s weird; It’s a bittersweet thing.  Its immediately devastating… but, then I always find my mind and my body just kind of stop, and I soak it in…  and it leaves you with on those can’t-stop-grins.  Though, these oddities are rare, I do certainly relish every one of them.  Same thing when I dream about her… I don’t often, but I can remember every single dream. Every one.  And, in every one of them, I can see Jen. Perfectly. She looks the same as I remember – beautiful. And, she is always smiling – always. I know this is her telling me she’s okay now. She’s good. And we don’t have to be sad anymore.  Though, we try. It’s hard. And I think that this is why she doesn’t do this to me often, cause she knows how difficult it is sometimes.

But, every night I do dream about her.  I have the best day. I wake up with the biggest smile, cause I know that in the only way possible, I just hung out with my big sister again. Which, is something I miss more than you can imagine.  Seriously.  Like I said, it’s really one of those weird things, I can’t explain it.  I am a million times happy, and sad at the same time.  There will be nights too, where I can’t sleep so I just talk to her, and ask her to come into my dreams, so I can see her again… Sometimes it happens, sometimes not.  But, I will lay there and think about her as much as I can and hope that she comes.  I miss her.  A lot.

I know that this was supposed to get easier with time, and sometimes I think that it has, but there will be nights where something reminds me of Jen, a song, a picture… whatever, and I just miss her more than I would maybe, any other night. Or sometimes, maybe even nothing ever happened but there are just  nights where you can hear her, see her, feel her…  And, you just really miss her.  Tough nights.  Sometimes when I am going through one of those evenings… I wonder, when I am 35 years old, is this still going to happen, or is it going to occur less… How does this work?

Sometimes I wish there was a real owners guide to overcoming a loss like this.  I guess there a million books, but they all the same, and I can read as many of them as I want, and while I will agree with most, or some of the excerpts… It never truly heals anything. I don’t even know if it is supposed too.  I just know, I really miss her…a lot.  And, that empty feeling in my gut that I have from missing her so much, maybe that will never go away and I will always feel that.  I don’t know.  I just hope the dreams, and the moments I can feel her, never go away, because at least now… I feel like I still have something. Sometimes.

 ———

I do wish that my writings would be more frequent, as opposed to writing once every couple of weeks.  I would like to make this a much more consistent effort.  I am finally getting back in touch with, what is probably the most effective means of therapy for myself.  I used to write a tonne when I was younger, but I kind of lost it over the years.  I don’t know, I guess it wasn’t cool to “write”… Is it now?

I just am really happy that I have gotten back in touch with writing; I think it has probably saved me many a night.  When you struggle with mental illness, you need to find a few things that you can resort too when you are having a shit day.  A day where you just feel like, you’re really just losing the fucking battle, and nothing is going right.  You have to try your best to just have what I call – defense weapons.  (I like to use fighting metaphors…Sooooooo) to get you through the days where you really, literally only want to get through the day, sometimes when you fight a mental illness, going to sleep and waking up to a new day is sometimes a victory.  It really is.  Because, there are times where it is that damn bad.  And, you can’t leave your house, that is, if you can even get out of bed.  For me, I have a couple of things that I resort too…  Obviously this blog has really become that for me, along with pretty well anything hockey.  Those are my escapes.  But, even then, sometimes your days are so shitty, that you can’t even make it to these escapes… These are the days where you just hope to hell to see another sun rise, and make it. You’ll have these days too, I do. I think once you accept that you suffer from a mental illness – that being the initial, biggest success  – but from then on in, its about limiting those days where a victory is just making it through.  Maybe you’ll never truly eliminate those days, cause who knows. Sometimes I feel like it’s an endless fight, but, when you can limit those days as much as possible… you’re hanging in there.  Trust me. And, at times… hanging in there… that’s ok.

goneawayboys has served me well in a variety of ways.   First and foremost, it has been completely therapeutic for me, and is something that truly makes me feel quite good.  Every time I click submit and I watch people view my posts, and comment, follow, like or whatever other term social media has coined as “approval”.  It is an awesome, awesome feeling. And dammit, do I thank everyone of you that do that.  You seriously have no idea how much that means too me, It gives me one of those can’t-stop-grins.

As much as I like to write this blog to hopefully help others, and I hope that I am.  It is ultimately too, like I said; get me through those days where I am losing the fucking battle.  Big time.  I think this blog has too become somewhat of a personal compromise.

Any one that is fortunate, and blessed enough to know me on a personal level 😉 knows that I am a pretty quiet fellow, I don’t say much, especially in regards to my feelings, my personal life and past.  I don’t even like the word feelings. I don’t talk about much of anything – ever. But, I think that this has ultimately led to me absolutely falling apart, or at least it was a significant contribution.  For 10 years, I have been fighting depression, and I haven’t said boo about it.  I’d take my pills that the doctor prescribed me.  And, that’s it. I’d take them, I didn’t know why I would be taking them, and I don’t even think they worked.  It was a robotic process.  Meanwhile, I would take these pills and carry on my day like nothing, like an absolute robot again. I’d never talk about anything.  Even if I was feeling completely fucked up. I wouldn’t say a word to anyone.  We weren’t supposed too, I thought.  Isn’t that the thing about mental illness? Hush Hush – pussy.  So, I never did. I continued to throw everything back into a mental clusterfuck… and deep down, I think I knew that this was a bad idea, and eventually would probably boil over and explode, and in turn something bad was likely going to happen.  I didn’t know what. But, it hadn’t happened then, so as far I was concerned… It wasn’t going too.  Or, at the least, I would cross that bridge when I arrived.  As if I was expecting that I’d have time, and I’d see a collapse coming.  Well, maybe I did see it coming… But, I know what I told myself…. I’ll be fine. Fuck off.  We’re ok.

Well, it was damn close, and I wasn’t okay. That was one of the hardest things, having to admit… I was not OK anymore. At all.

I am not sure if I should be impressed that my way of dealing with things lasted 10 years, or if I should consider myself damn lucky that I had someone kick me in the teeth and allow me to get my shit together when I hit rock bottom after 10 years, before it was too late… ultimately, allowing me to even tell you about this.  Thanks Jen. Everyone was right.  The more shit you keep in, and refuse to talk about… You’re going to fall apart.  And, I did just that.  And, no.  You’re wrong.  You don’t see it coming, and trust me… You won’t.

Although, I will admit I still am a little hesitant to openly discuss my fight with depression, for now, even though I am an advocate for speaking out about it… It’s hard. It’s not something that happens over night, but I do think I am certainly getting better at talking about it personally.  But, this blog, is a place where I can write these things down, then show everyone, and tell everyone.  Although its not the setting of a coffee-shop conversation.  To me, it’s a personal compromise and a stepping-stone to achieving my ultimate goal of being able to freely have a coffee shop conversation about my depression, and your’s too.

One day we’ll get there, and when we do… I’ll have a Caramel Macchiato.

I can’t write love songs when I’m on these things
I’m affable, responsible, but hard to be around
It’s correctible and they’re right you know
It’s as easy as it sounds
It’s all as easy as it sounds

– A Single Explosion –

Matthew Good

– Blair

The NHL Lockout; Robbing Our Dreams.

Uncategorized

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.