What’s A Hockey Dad To Do When The Season Ends

Every hockey season inevitably has to come to an end; far too early for most hockey dads including yours truly. However, this is an important time for all to rest, relax, reflect and maybe even pursue other interests or attend to certain neglected commitments. Young hockey players, as I’ve firmly stated previously, should be encouraged to try alternative sports or hobbies, in order to become better rounded athletes and people. That being said, dads, particularly those who pull double-duty as their kids’ coaches, can and no doubt do, keep one eye on the next campaign. With this in mind, here’s a brief list of suggestions for father’s looking to pass the time between puck drops in semi-constructive ways.

♠ Catch up on all those heart-wrenching episodes of The Bachelor you missed cuz you were always at a rink on Mondays at 8pm Eastern, 6pm Central and 5pm in the West. Spoiler alert: Juan Pablo and his Spanish accent are to die for #justsayin.

♣  Brew your own beer. You’ll need it to cry in after the last devastating loss when all you needed to do was beat a team you had already defeated by four goals  once to advance to the next round.

♥ Focus on your job. Yeah, you know…that thing you do between 9am and 5pm most Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and occasional Saturdays.

♦ Calm the hell down. Yeah, you know who you are hockey dad. How bout yoga, a little zen meditation or maybe a stiff dose o’ Xanax?

♠ Perfect your mastery of the Oomphalapompatronium.

♣ Write a somewhat contrived, but mildly amusing blog post about what hockey dads should do when their kids’ season is prematurely over.

♥ Spend hours scouring the Internet for overly-complicated drills to impress parents who never come to watch their kids practice and thoroughly baffle your attention-challenged players who do.


♦ Play Scrabble in bed with your Hockey Momma or otherwise better half; occasionally allowing her to win if you know what’s good for you.

♠ Catch a game or two or 17 from the NHL, KHL, OHL, CWHL, ECHL, QMJHL or IDIDNTEVENKNOWTHEREWASHOCKEYINFIJIHL if you need a fix…..and you will undoubtedly need a fix about a day or two into your unwelcomed hiatus. There is no shortage of entertaining hockey out there if you want take the time to find it.

♣ Tackle the over-flowing Honey Do Jar that’s been staring down at you from on top of the fridge for the last 6+ months.

♥ Two words: Bikini Wax.

♦ Get yerself a ball o’ yarn, a coupla needles and take up knitting. Maybe knit a nice sweater.

Knitted Winnipeg Jets Sweater

I don’t know who this dude is, but I dig his fashion sense.

♠ Find a missing Boeing 777 last seen somewhere over the Indian Ocean. While you’re at it, say hello to Amelia Earhart, Jim Morrison, D.B. Cooper and Bill Barilko (yes, I know his body was recovered, but I just couldn’t resist the aviation/hockey parallel, even if he was a Toronto Maple Leaf).

♣ Expand your sports horizons and check out other exciting pastimes. Like figure skating. Now there’s another ice sport you can really sink your teeth into and probably learn a thing or two from. So elegant, so graceful.

♥ Three more words: Extreme Navel Gazing

♦ Start a band, write a song, rent a Winnebago, go on the road, sleep with some groupies, get arrested, enter rehab, find Jesus, write a tell-all book, go on Oprah. That oughta kill a solid month.

♠ Go back over each period of every game from the season just past to figure out how you could have done things differently. Yeah, now there’s a constructive use of your time.

♣ Memorize all 118 elements in the Periodic Table. Cuz ya never know when you might be tested on that shit.

♥ Call up Dennis Rodman. Collaborate on a solid plan to quickly and peacefully end hostilities in the Ukraine.

♦ Lie motionless on a chaise lounge in the backyard with one of your homemade beers in one hand and whatever ya like in your other and stare up into the sky until you find the cloud which most resembles #4 Bobby Orr flying through the air after tucking the fourth goal behind St. Louis netminder Glenn Hall in the fourth period of the fourth game of 1970 Stanley Cup Finals.

1970-Stanley Cup - Famous Goal Dive

Look Dad, we’re sorry, but hockey is not a 12 months of the year thing – nor should it be. How’s about ya just cool your jets and enjoy the Summer off with your family. The kid will be back on the ice and you’ll be back in your familiar spot down by the glass or behind the bench before ya know it. Now breathe, say four Hail Mary’s to the Hockey Gods and get back to the Indian Ocean cuz that plane sure as hell ain’t gonna find itself.


p.s. As always, I’m open to any other suggestions to help this restless dad pass the time.

Hockey Drill image courtesy of http://www.puckmasters.com
Jersey image courtesy of http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/multimedia/pov/POV-The-NHL-is-back–131433453.html
“The Goal” image courtesty of http://bobbyorr.net/goal/goal.php

And Just Like That…..Another Hockey Season Ends

The Sharks put up a heroic effort and battled hard down the stretch with a skeleton crew in an attempt to advance to our Provincial Championships. After the last game of our first round league playoff series we were reduced to 12 skaters, 1 goalie and no coach as I was resigned to catch the first game of our double round-robin competition from up in the stands.

Hockey Lady

The first two games would pit us against the number one team in our regular league, though they apparently had some challenges of their own icing only 13 skaters and likewise a lone goalie. Game one was a tight affair which saw the two teams battle to a 1-1 tie through two periods. I didn’t particularly enjoy my banished viewpoint, but did what I could to urge the team on as a mere spectator. I was pleased to have one of my players say all she could hear during the match was me yelling down at them; though I’m not sure whether that was a good or bad thing. In this particular game I shouted our embattled keepers name quite a few times as she turned in several saves to the spectacular variety – a much-needed boost for our undermanned bunch. The game remained close through the final frame and ended knotted at 1, which was something of a victory for we, the underdogs.

Game two was only two days later and we again took to the ice down three players and an injured goaltender. It would take another big effort from those players who remained to give us a chance to stick with our competitor. This time I would regain my spot back behind the bench where I could feel a little more in control; though I may or may not have been. This match would again be closely fought, with our side being the first to find the back of the net. Meanwhile, the front of their net was something of a battlefield as their goalie (previously known to be somewhat erratic) made like a lumberjack with our players’ legs being her trees. I implored the referee to pay attention, but my exhortations were met with disdain as he suggested he would keep an eye on my players as well. With this game also deadlock at ones, my pleading finally paid off as the ref whistled down one of her whacks with less than two minutes left. Those last couple of minutes saw us get out chances to pull out a win with the puck narrowly skipping past the post on at least two occasions. While the W would have served us better, we were pleased with back-to-back pushes against the tough competition.

We’d have to wait a week to finish the back half of our double dip qualifier, during which time our task would be set for us.  Our first foe would mount two victories against our next by a combined difference of 4 goals meaning we would have to also secure two of our own with a five-goal differential in order to advance. A relatively tall order for a short-handed squad for which scoring during the season had been at a premium, which also happened to be missing 3 of its top 4 scorers to aforementioned injuries or suspensions.

The game three direction to our 12 skaters was simple, “Shoot the puck early and often.”  The message was heeded and our girls jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead, which ballooned to 2, then 3, then four before the final buzzer rung. In our end, few if any shots found their way to our net. Almost surprisingly, the four goal deficit we were up against was erased in just one game. That being said, moving on would require another dominant effort; one which would be complicated by the loss of yet two more skaters to a pre-planned trip to the tropics and yet one more injury (a dislocated shoulder suffered, but not succumbed to, by one tough young player in the second period).

The last match of the double round robin would pit our 10 skaters and a goalie against the same from the other side. We all knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I felt a little more comfortable than I had the game prior on the strength and quality of the win there. I quipped to my assistant coach that the Hockey Gods were really gonna make us earn this one. And so they did as we fell behind early on a good shot fired from just inside the face off circle to the right of our keeper, which found its way under the crossbar. We’d even the score before the end of the 2nd period, however would fall behind again 2-1 heading into the third and possibly final frame….of the season. Before our girls headed back onto the ice I asked them to give it their all for three of their teammates in particular who were on the verge of the end of their minor hockey careers…and a memory of the Boy’s last game flashed through my mind’s eye.

Our depleted troops were sucking serious wind, but were still game and giving everything they had to try to even the score. Unfortunately, time and again their shots were blocked or simply did not find their target. Our net was emptied in a last ditch effort with less than two minutes left on the clock and subsequently….in the season. Their keeper continued to turn our advances away until the buzzer sounded causing 10 skaters, 2 goalies, 4 unwilling non-participants, 4 bench staff and a bunch of disappointed parents/fans to simultaneously lower their heads in some disbelief. We only needed a one-goal victory to reach our provincial championship tourney aspirations; just a little more than our exhausted group could muster…and certainly not for a lack of guts or hard work. Kudos to our foils who took and fulfilled their no doubt coveted role as spoiler.

Post game was somewhat uncomfortable as no one, including yours truly, could quite come to grips with the loss and the suddenness of THE END.

We do still have a bunch of practice ice left, half of which is scheduled during March Break, so attendance by a bunch of teenage girls is expected to be thin at best (I can already report having only 5 and 4 skaters in the first two post-season sessions which have both turned into a lot of shooting practice). I’ve been asked if we can schedule a couple of exhibition games, but I’m not sure we have enough healthy or willing players to ice a proper squad.

And so, we will play out the next couple weeks, take a month’s break, then head right back into tryouts for next season – the final of the Devil’s career. Of course, the Devil herself may actually forego her final tryouts if the two bits of her fibula do not find their way back together in time. Guess she can consider herself lucky as the coach of her desired team is not “likely” to cut her sight unseen. Then again, ya never know, I hear he can be heartless.

Devil skating off

When she still had two good limbs…


Image courtesy http://www.someecards.com/

Back on Ice

Alright…..so it’s still August and the Devil’s been on the ice a couple of times over the last two weeks.  Some would and have argued a couple of times too many.  An opportunity arose for some ice time with another team, which was offered to all of the members of her and my team.  A few, including the aforementioned Devil, who weren’t occupied with other Summer activities, signed on to get some early practice in.  Having not had her blades touch a frozen surface since mid-May,the Devil out-loud wondered if she may have forgotten how to navigate a sheet of ice.  While her conditioning was questionable and some rust was obvious, she took to it as she has every other season following the mid-year break with renewed enthusiasm for a game she’d come to miss even after only a couple of months. Though I know catching an edge in a drill and landing firmly on her ass did not sit well with her (pun wholly intended).  I likewise marked myself appreciating the sights, sounds and even the smells of the abruptly sprayed snow, the well-struck goalpost and the ripe dressing room – familiar indeed.

In a week’s time, my new team will take to the ice for our first official practice. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t some nervous energy guiding my new role.  Everything to this point has been administration.  Next week the proverbial rubber hits the rink.  I’ve already mapped out two full sessions, replaying instructions in my mind both before I hit the pillow and upon waking at least a full hour before I need to the last couple of mornings.  I’ve always said of delivering presentations that if you’re not nervous, it doesn’t matter enough to you. This does matter to me.  I have expectations around building a team, imparting a few hockey skills to propel these young athletes forward and hopefully instilling some positive life lessons along the way.   I assume my players have expectations of me; varied as they will surely be.  And I know many parents have already fashioned a set of desired outcomes, as they’ve every right to do. While I will have a staff to support me, I will still be the focal point in good times and bad.  I’ve accepted this role. I expect to look back six months from now to see my fretting was worth it.  I’ll measure success on the hopefully enlightened faces of players after a solid practice or hard fought game – win, lose or draw.  I want my players to realize it is just a kid’s game, the rink is an unbeatable place to be on a frigid Winter morning and they are fortunate to have the opportunity to just play.

As for the Boy, he and some buddies are entered in a pre-season “fun” tune-up tourney this weekend.  “Fun” in midget boys games generally means lots of inappropriate, testosterone-induced trash talking followed by the occasional dust-up in the corner along with a few goals tossed in.  I understand it’s been tough rounding up enough players, but the Boy for his part is raring to go.  I’m pleased to note he still loves playing the game — he comes by his competitive spirit naturally. I get the sense he’s also looking forward to tryouts in a few weeks as he’s been chomping at the bit to get some frozen pond under his restless feet.  As a coach, I’ll likely see fewer of his games this year, but will make a point to cherish each of them more with the clock undoubtedly ticking down.

So, ok…enough with the romantic talk already…gimme a stick, puck and bring on Hockey Season!


Summer’s Been Nice, but Startin to Get The Itch

Sometimes at night I can hear the ice crack
It sounds like thunder and it rips through my back
Sometimes in the morning I still hear the sound
Ice meets metal…
Can’t you drive me down to the Big League? 

Tom Cochrane

Midway through Summer and basking in a heat wave; a far cry from an icy cold rink in February.  It’s been a while since there’s been any real hockey talk, but it’s never too far from our minds.  Some kids continue with 3-on-3 leagues, Summer hockey camps or hockey-specific conditioning as the Boy and Devil have both done in the past.  I personally feel it’s important to get away from it for a couple of months and to develop rounded athletes in multiple sports.

We’ve been offering optional dryland training once a week for the girls on my team this upcoming season. Our trainer has done a great job of mixing team building in with the exercise. Attendance has been pretty good from week to week with only a few who haven’t been able to get out because of commitments they have in other sports from baseball to soccer to ball hockey.  And that’s just fine by me.  There’ll be plenty of on and off-ice conditioning once this team is fully assembled.

While there have been no hockey practices or games played, there has been plenty of admin in anticipation of the season ahead.  A bank account has been opened, rosters have been created, on-ice plans have been drafted.  The other night, hockey mom and I got together with a group of parents to discuss fundraising to offset some of our costs next year.  One tournament has already been booked for September, another is earmarked for November.  We have our eyes pealed for a few more to round out the schedule around practices, league games and playoffs.  Next week I’ll sit down with my coaching staff to get their input on how we, as a group of four 40+ men, will work together to develop the individual and team skills of a bunch of undoubtedly temperamental 13 and 14 year old girls.  Say a small prayer to the hockey gods on that front for us.

The practices and games will be upon us before we know it.  It’s likely no surprise that I’m itching to get going. Though they’re older, with other interests and priorities, I’m pretty sure the Boy and the Devil could use a wee scratch too.  Keeping us all away from a rink for a couple months serves to stoke the flames of competition; it’s good to miss the game; to want to get back to it again.  A new season will bring new challenges, new teammates, new friendships along with some victories and hopefully fewer defeats. Regardless, it’s all good when the Zamboni door closes after its final round inviting the quick clamour of skates, sticks and pucks just ahead of whistles and cheers.  I don’t have to be there to see,  hear or feel it in my mind’s eye, but there’s nothing quite like the real thing.