Well, it’s been almost two and half years since I went all Forrest Gump and took my hands off the keyboard and simply stopped writing rinktales. And today…well, it marks the day I am back. Quite sadly for me, it’s not the way I had had hoped to return. You see, I never intended to simply stop writing and never return. It wasn’t like I had run out of stories. A hockey player never runs out of stories. Using a hockey metaphor, I just ran out of tape, got a bit winded, the skates got a bit dull. The plan was to sit out a few shifts to let the ringing noises subside and then get back out there. However, one month turned into two, then a year turned into two and a second season turned into a third. I was playing a lot, and there was a new story every shift. This hockey player’s life was good. It was a first world life in the truest sense but hey, I was born in the first world.
Then, one Saturday night this past November in a tournament game, my right shoulder somehow ended up in a blind date with the boards behind the opposing net (I’ve don’t believe I’ve ever met the boards behind my own net) and she was a nasty one that. It’s been a few weeks and while that’s a wee drop in the bucket of time, and all those who care tell me I’m too impatient and things will be back to normal if I just let time take its course, things feel a little bleak currently, a little like this time might be different than all the relatively minor injuries I’ve suffered in the past. The reality is that my shoulder no longer feels like a shoulder, nor does it look like one.
And so, when it comes to hockey, writing about it may be the next best thing to playing for the forseeable future. And by forseeable future, I really mean the words “holy shit, you may be done eh?” keep rattling around inside my helmetless head.
A week or so after I got hurt, I watched Ryane Clowe get honoured pre-game in San Jose like he was same aging superstar from years gone by. Crap I thought, when did he stop playing and why? Last I heard, he was one of the Sharks up and comers. As I followed the scene on the tele, they described how he had succumbed to concussion symptoms over past couple of seasons and was done. They described his feelings of despair and mental battle with the notion that he was done. Really done.
I won’t try to compare myself to Clowe, for whom hockey was his means of making a living. However, I do know this – I have loved playing the game every bit as much as anyone who ever played and not playing is a like having the juiciest morsel of life withheld for all eternity. Hopefully my shoulder heals and I can lace up again at some point, even in a diminished capacity. However, there’s no guarantees and until then, perhaps rinktales will be my means to stay close to the game and all the good things it has given me thus far.
Stay tuned, and while I’d like to say “stay safe”, that is one dumb-ass suggestion to give anyone who has ever strapped sharpened steel on to the bottom of their feet in order to enjoy high speed sport on frozen water. Instead, I’ll just suggest that if you are still playing, enjoy the hell out of it ‘cuz as Tom Cochrane said in his wonderful hockey ballad Big League, “Ah, never can tell what might come down, never can tell how much you got, just don’t know, no you never can tell.”