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.

Advertisements

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.

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.

Hey everyone!  Long time no talk! Writing double headers here. I think that is the first time that I have done that.  Last night I wanted to write about a few different, random things.  Just kind of do an update.  But, as soon as I started writing, and talking about the holidays, I thought I’d continue on in discussing why they can, and are so difficult for me.  And, in turn, I wrote nothing about what I had planned.  So, I will try and do that tonight. First off though, thank you too everyone who read last nights entry, and too everyone who shared it, retweeted it, favorite’d it, or mentioned something to me. I sincerely appreciate the support.  As always.

Before I get going into this entry, I wanted to throw my two cents on the NHL Lockout.  I don’t even know how I feel about it anymore.  I don’t even really care.  I am so frustrated by both the owners, and the NHLPA.  I am not on either side. Not the owners, nor the NHLPA side.  I started off being on the NHLPA side by default.  Then, I’ve slowly just moved to the middle, and cared less and less.  I have tried my best not to watch the daily video updates on TSN, read into all the articles and tweets about the lockout.  Or, even invest in much of the pessimism or, optimism.  Except, for when I had heard that Crosby was the sheer reason there was any optimism, and that day last week where everything looked good.  I ran my mouth off to few people on twitter about how Crosby is the modern day God.  But, other than that.  I just have nothing left with the NHL.  When it comes back, I will be the first one watching.  But, I am not letting myself get too frustrated by how things are progressing now.  The entire process annoys me.  The players, the owners, and the fans…. I hate the fans that tweet, or say – I work from 6am-6pm in -41 weather in my boots just to make an average living – Sure, I feel bad for you. Regardless. But that’s likely your choice.  If you were better at hockey, like these guys are…  You wouldn’t be working 12 hours in -41.  You’d be right in the middle of the lockout.  Like, I said.  The entire process to me is frustrating. I just have a hard time giving a shit anymore.  It’s like being in love with this girl, and she just keeps fucking around with you.  Because she knows that when she needs you… You will be sitting there, just waiting for her to come back!

Fortunately, I am at the arena enough as it is that I get enough of hockey with our team, and watching our guys play, because they just love the game and they want to be at the next level.  They don’t get paid. So they just play.  As with anything, throw in a dollar or two, and everything gets all fucked up, and you get guys who begin to play for the wrong reasons.  The only thing that I am really going to miss this season… Is watching the Oilers, I am really excited for the group they have, and as well watching Crosby. I hear he is better than ever. Can’t wait for that.  But, if I have to wait another couple weeks, or till next October.  Fuck em.

Feels better to get that off my chest! In the meantime I will invest all of my hockey related passion into the Bisons & the South Carolina Stingrays!  – I suggest you do the same!

After fighting with dosages, and different anti-depressant drugs and still experiencing the same problems. Ie. Depression (duh) But, not being able to get out of bed, just having no energy, a complete lack of focus and just kind living every day ho-hum and floating through each day.  I finally went to my doctor and told him this just wasn’t working anymore.  He put me back on a prescription drug that I was on a few years back in my third year university (I think), which was probably my best year, academically and health-wise.  I worked hard at school, worked hard out of school, got back into pretty decent shape – considering where I was coming from!  Anyways.  He put me back on this prescription – which, from everything I read, and hear, can be quite the controversial drug. But, what does that even mean.  Because, Can’t any drug become controversial if you are abusing it?  Fortunately… I am not doing that, not with the near $400 price tag that came with this prescription.  The strange thing about this – It isn’t labeled as an anti-depressant.  It’s a psycho-stimulant drug to treat ADHD & Narcolepsy.   I have no idea what the latter means.  But, I am 23 year old male so chances are I have some variation of ADHD. But, It’s been amazing the differences.  I have felt sharper, I am sleeping much better, and not just sleeping better, but I can actually wake up without going through an internal struggle.  I have much more energy, and just seem to be able to go. I feel like I can function.  I have tried so many different anti-depressants, and different dosages, and none of them have this kind of result.  Then, I get off the path of anti-depressants, and everything I hoped would happen, is now happening.  Just feeling better. Mentally, and having that energy I used too have.  I’ve been on it for five days, and feel like in those 5 days I have already accomplished more than I probably did in the entire month before.  I am back in the gym working out (every day for the last 5 days) and have committed myself to losing 20 pounds in 6 weeks.  And, for me, the biggest problem is just getting the energy to get up and go to the gym.  I know I need to be there. But, that doesn’t mean much when you can’t even peel yourself out of bed half of the time.  So, on that note.  I expect all of you to help keep me accountable in my attempts to slowly get back into shape.  As well, if anyone wants to join me in working out, feel free.  Having someone to go with helps so much, having that extra push.  ALSO! If anyone wants to construct this guy a sustainable workout plan – free of charge – I am also open to that idea.  I have a few things of my own I do, but I lack in the variety department.

But, whether it is this magic “NXT-Limitless” drug, or if more of it is just in my own head. I am feeling much better lately. I am actually  doing okay.  Which, is perfect timing because as I wrote about last night.  This is an extremely difficult time of the year for me.

And, I don’t think you know how long I have been waiting to be able to truly say that.  “I am doing okay”  – And, for the first time in a long time.  At least a year, I really think that I am.  I am not going to say that I no longer struggle with my depression, because that is not true, there are moments and times.  But, now, I feel like they are much more stable.  I am in control, whereas, before, I never was. I didn’t know what was going to happen next.  I have accepted that I suffer from depression, and that, that just may be part of who I am, but I need to learn how continually manage it in a way that is going to be healthy, and beneficial for me and those surrounding.  I think I am getting there.

… In closing tonight, I wanted to send my sympathies, and condolences to the friends and families of those effected by the terrible, tragic incident that happened in Kansas City last week with Javon Belcher and his girlfriend.  An absolutely devastating tragedy.

On that note, I want to also leave you with the Brady Quinn post conference.  I thought Brady brought up a lot of great points about the world we live in today, and how we are often just so wrapped up, and pre-occupied that we can’t even give notice to those who might need it.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WXvp0L1DlA

 

 

– Goodnight

Uncategorized

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.