Monday, November 26, 2007

Have we been here before?

Two goalies, no great starter. Blown leads. A Spezza injury, followed by a devastating (but short) Alfredsson injury. Sloppy, sloppy defensive work and a languid offense.

Each slump is new in circumstance and context but ultimately it comes down to the same goddamn thing: no goaltending, no defense, no offense, and no wins. No confidence, no smiles. This too, shall come to pass.


Forget about the players having a Stanley Cup Finals hangover. I have a damn hangover. I can't watch hockey for more than a few minutes without thinking of the damn playoffs and those damn Ducks and how long the season is before anything matters, how nothing was easy and conversely the ease with which the Senators played was a small miracle. I cannot practice the Zen art of hockey watching anymore, unless it's a team that I don't care for. Like the Chicago Blackhawks. And even then I am more amusing myself with Patrick Kane's angelic curls and pondering Toews' possible Mennonite roots than actually watching, watching them.

Am I losing interest?

Is this what it feels like to be on the other side of the divide? To be sickened by hockey, to have the nerve to say "fuck hockey" and change the channel to watch Gossip Girls?

Yet it's not like I can stay away from hockey news, from knowing what the score is, who's in net, who took too many penalties, and who handed out whiskey to a homeless dude in Montreal. I just can't fathom why the hell the season has started already and we've already finished a quarter while I'm still thinking about what went wrong in Anaheim. The start of this regular season has felt like an overblown epilogue to the real story that's already ended.

Please don't strip me of my hockey stripes just yet. I don't really watch Gossip Girls.


While watching the Leafs lose the game in the first period, I really enjoyed the film "Rhino Brothers" on CityTV. It's the story of a precariously professional hockey player who tries to quit hockey. He returns home to his overbearing, ambitious mother and his bitter brothers. The mother stiffly accuses his fiancé of distracting him from the ice and reminds him constantly of his points, goals, assists, ice-time … his older brother, a failed minor-leaguer, seethes in the background as an example of what happens when a hockey career fails.

The film really made me think about what happens when hockey fails. The theme of failed dreams isn't exclusive to hockey, but I find that often hockey, especially, is full of those clichés -- "perseverance," "fight through the pain," etc. Dedication, suffering through body checks and roster cuts are the ultimate badge of what it means to be a real hockey player -- one with "heart," you might say. But my god, metaphors of the ice can't be applied to the real world that easily. Hockey exists in a vacuum in that sense. As much as we glorify the "gritty" player for his heart, the player has to be constantly aware that he's an injury or a bad off-season away from losing his job. A player can try as hard as he wants but when he has marginal talent, no amount of blood, sweat or tears will ever make up for it.

What a cruel, cruel world.

How many of those real-life minor leaguers are playing in the leagues of Texas? Italy? How many of them still dream of being called up? When does hockey stop being love and start being a curse?


Blogger Finny said...

my (hockey)gods... what a friggin' bone-chilling post. (I loved it - that damn English major part of me can't help it). I know what you mean... that feeling, that listlessness, that nagging bit that's whispering, "remember the thrill?"...

"Here," an invisible someone gestures, "is greatness: Crosby, Spezza, Shanahan, Brodeur, Niedermayer, and so on. And there, on the fringes, in the wings, is a hockey player just waiting for a roster spot, pushing himself night and day for a chance he might never get. What glory lies in his path? What riches? What honor? Will he skate quietly off the ice?"


And what then?

11 December, 2007 17:38  
Blogger Finny said...

of course, maybe I shouldn't complain, considering I am on the Anaheim side that's about to get back one of the greats... still, I know what you mean. And, truthfully, nothing is guaranteed.

11 December, 2007 17:39  
Blogger Pete said...

Dammit, why do all the Senator blogs I frequent for my delusional rantings always go silent before the major catastrophies hit? First McMurtry, now you.


Look, you're a very good one-line team that wasn't good enough last year and got marginally worse since then. That's no excuse to hide.

06 February, 2008 03:44  
Blogger Hockey Dad said...

I was looking for information about Okanagan Hockey Academy and I stumbled upon some information that caused me great concern. It's a blog called Okanagan Hockey Academy. I was thinking about sending my 14 year-old boy to OHA but if the information on this blog is true, I would never send him there.

What can you tell me about OHA? Do they really have a crack house on campus? What are some good hockey schools in Canada where my son can develop and be relatively safe from harm?

Is it true Kerr was fired from Port Alberni due to favouritism of his son?

Thanks for any help or comments on this subject.

30 December, 2008 12:18  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its definitely not true. There is no truth to what these people say on it. The truth of it is that it's a disgruntled ex player that wasn't guaranteed a spot on a team, so him and his brother left. The plan for Alan Kerr was told to everyone when he first went to Port Alberni, we as parents were expecting him back for this season. So the firing isn't due to anything other then him putting in a one year commitment and the transition to another coach. The crack house issue is another made up story. There is a house that is in disrepair across from the high school, so its called a crack house. If it truly was one, the RCMP who's station is just down the road would be all over it. The whole thing is one ridiculous issue. If you want to know about the school, ask its former players, visit their own blog that's through their website. I mean those are the people that are in the majority.

01 April, 2009 23:25  
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