Giving Up Is Not An Option

Posted: July 23, 2014 in Uncategorized

Over the years some of you have gotten to know me through my various injuries. Being vain, I was standing in front of the mirror this morning and looked through the scars I’ve accumulated and then started to think, ‘who in their right mind would still keep at it?’

 

Through all the fractured bones, the debilitating back pains, knee pain, shoulder, concussions, groin, pulled hamstrings and so on, who the heck would still go into the sport that caused many of these injuries. That list excludes any muscle fatigue and pains from the gym. Yeah, that’s right, this guy!

When I made the decision that I would give hockey one more shot (apart from playing beer league), I had already suffered with a knee injury that had made it near impossible to walk on the affected leg. Yet I turned up at trainings, games and went to the gym even if it meant that I couldn’t walk the next day. I underwent knee surgery to fix years worth of damage to the ligaments and the meniscus to enable me to get back to the game.

 

The stupid thing is that most of the injuries (apart from surgery and the “big” concussion), I have hardly missed a game. Whether it was dealing with back issues, or pulled muscles, or whatever, there was always something driving me to get up and battle through it. Sometimes it worked and sometimes, well, it didn’t.

 

But why? Why put yourself through all of that pain? To me, giving in to some of the issues would be a sign of weakness. I guess I’ve bought into the ‘hockey players are tough’ mentality and I felt that I could still help my team. This is why I opted to delay in getting my shoulder surgery until after the season. Even though it hurt like hell at times and if I had a chance to change things, I’d still wait till the season was done. It’s difficult to express it in words, but my mentality is that I need to give everything that I have. The shelf life of an athlete is short and I want to enjoy every minute of it, no matter how painful it may be.

 

If I look to draw from those kinds of experiences, I can easily relate them to everyday life and in a lot of ways going through injuries has made me mentally tougher and given me the ability to deal with stressful situations better in the business environment. Even now when recovering from shoulder surgery, I was allowed to start lifting weights and all I can bench now is the bar, with no weight. For some the easiest answer would be to just say fuck it and give up. To me it is a challenge. I look at that bar, and I think to myself that within 3 months I am going to load that with 100kg weight and lift it.

 

Hockey is a game about rising to a challenge, game in, game out. Everything that you do off the ice must re-enforce that mentality. There should not be an easy way out. No matter how skilled you are, you need to put in the work. On the flipside what you lack in skill you make up for in work ethic. The harder you work on and off the ice, the better and more valuable you will be to your team.

 

Despite all the scars, the aches and pains, I would not change anything. Giving up is not an option. The only way is up, no matter what. 


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Stick specs
Flex: 75
Weight: Approx 375 grams
Blade pattern: PP88 (Ryan II)
Grip coated

photo 1Sher-Wood Rekker EK 15 came out with a lot of buzz around it during launch. The stick was advertised to be the lightest stick on the market (With Stastny curve). The stick has been in use from December onwards and has been used in league level play and training. Below are our findings:

First impressions:

At delivery, the first thing we noticed was how light the box was. It felt like there was nothing inside and once the stick was un-boxed it felt ridiculously light. The Rekker EK15 feels like a perfectly balanced stick when you hold it in your hands and you can feel that you are holding a high quality product.

The product itself is clean and didn’t come with any warehouse dust or any paint scraps which can sometimes make its way onto a stick. Sher-Wood says that it uses a “handmade manufacturing process” that reduces the chances of defect on sticks. The aim of this process is to make the stick more durable and to remove surplus materials, which can add to the weight, balance and durability of a stick.

The Rekker EK 15 uses carbon fibre that is 30% lighter than the ones used in other sticks which gives it that light feel. As with other light sticks and testing out the flex on it, the first question we want answered is that how durable is it and will it handle a slap shot without breaking. The 75 flex stick is new to us as we have previously used mainly 85 flex sticks so the Rekker EK 15 is a new frontier in that respect.

In terms of looks, Sher-Wood opted for a slick black coating on the stick with the branding in white on the shaft of the stick. This time the branding is visible on the shaft, something that was lacking in the Nexon range as it tended to warp around the shaft in the higher range models.

On the ice:

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The Sher-Wood Rekker EK15 comes with a new VRF 2 blade, designed to give your stick a ‘new’ feel for longer

Using the Rekker EK15 on the ice for the first time was an eye opening experience. Having reviewed the Nexon 12, we knew that Sher-Wood is capable of producing great sticks where you get an amazing feel for the puck. Given that the EK15 is lighter than the Nexon range, we wondered whether the stick was actually able to provide a similar feel.

From the first time we handled a puck we realised that the stick provides a feel that is equal to, or even better to the Nexon range. The feel is comparable to Warrior’s Covert DT1 stick. Both sticks provide a great feel for the puck and feed it straight to your hands.

One of the big improvements we noticed on the stick was the blade. On the preceding model, the Nexon range, the blade had a tendency to give out quite soon into the life of the stick, so you lost a bit of feel and a bit of the ‘pop’ when that happened.In terms of shooting, the Rekker EK15 provides amazing pop. This is thanks to the new VRF 2 core in the blade (VRF stands for Vibration Reduction Foam). What the VRF does, is it keeps the blade and the stick feeling like new for longer. With new sticks you get that crisp and great pop on all the shots, but over time the blade gives way. As said, the Nexon range was prone to giving up at the blade, but after 6 months of active use, the Rekker EK 15 still has that ‘new stick feel’.

The stick also has a flex free zone, which means that it has a four inch area at the top and providing you don’t cut below this zone, the flex doesn’t change. What some other manufacturers have, such as Bauer, the stick comes at a certain flex, but the flex changes by how much you have to cut down the stick. Say your 85 flex stick might actually be a 90 flex after you’ve cut it down.

In terms of kick point, the Rekker EK15 has a really low kick point to getting a shot off quickly.

In six months of use, the blade and stick still feel new, an upgrade from the Nexon range.

In six months of use, the blade and stick still feel new, an upgrade from the Nexon range.

The Nexon range had a low kick point, but the Rekker EK range has an even lower kickpoint. Indeed, when shooting, the stick is easy to load for a quick release snap and wrist shot.

This stick is suited to the players who are looking for something that provides them with a quick release and want to have that crisp feel to their stick for longer, also if you’re a player who loves to dangle, this is the stick for you.

After six months of use, the only damage that is on the stick, is the grip coating coming off at certain parts of the shaft, so that is something we hope Sher-Wood will look into in future iterations of the stick. However, it still feels like new when you’re shooting, despite having a few skate scuff marks on the blade.


Price:

Additionally to the great features found in the Sher-Wood Rekker EK15, the price point is an amenable one when comparing to some of the other top of the range sticks on the market. You can pick up the Rekker EK15 for approximately €30-70 cheaper than the top of the range sticks when compared to the likes of CCM, Bauer, Easton and Warrior. The stick retails at approximately €199 in Europe or £288 in the UK (depending on retailer).

Overall:

photo 5The Rekker EK15 is a great stick that more than holds its own against the other top marquees. It is a feature rich stick that provides you with great feel for the puck and is easy to load and release. If you are shopping for a stick, it should definitely be one of the sticks that you need to try out when you’re going through the stick rack.

Pros:
• Light weight
• Excellent price point for top of the range stick
• Quick release on shots
• True one piece throughout
• Stronger blade than on predecessor models

Cons:
• Grip coating has started to come off after extensive use


The summer is a great time of year. Time for BBQs, hanging out with your family, making a trip back home for a few weeks and then there is the off season. What has been particularly pleasing about the last two summers is that it has been hot, which in turn allows me to do a lot of off season work outside – in the name of resistance chute sprints and plyo ladder work.

What has been a continuing trend from last summer is the number of people that come and talk to me about my chute sprints. It’s a strange concept to people, but at the same time it intrigues them. I generally do the sprints at the park right by my place (hooray for suburbia).

Usually I have to answer the following questions:

What is that?
What are you doing?
What are you training for?

I get these questions from kids and adults alike and sometimes have people standing and watching me do the sprints. No pressure there then. I really do not have a problem in talking to people about the training and they are usually really surprised when I tell them I train for hockey. Their usual reaction is “oh but you just beat people up,” which I try and nervously laugh off. Usually I can get a good conversation going with people about it and the benefits of doing it.

What is surprising to me though is that there are kids and teenagers who play football. I admit I don’t know what level they play to, but I would like to think that this type of training would be something that professionals do as well. It may be an alien concept of training around the area where I live, but it’s a heck of a way to get into shape.

Speed chute sprints have become one of my favorite exercises during the past two off seasons, and even more so now with recovering from the shoulder surgery and all. What’s so appealing in the exercise to me is that in that sprint you literally give everything and continually tell yourself that you can go faster.

But all in all. I think I am the only weirdo in the neighborhood as most other people go to the park to play football, cricket or frisbee. You should see the looks we get when we break out the Finnish game Molkky. It’s good to be a bit weird though. Always push the boundaries with your training, whilst keeping your own goals in mind, regardless of how many eyeballs are looking at you and looking at you all confused.


My six weeks in the sling are up and I have almost a free reign to use my arm, with a few exceptions and limitations on weight bearing. The six weeks – thinking back on it – went relatively quickly. After the initial painful first few days, the shoulder did settle quite well and didn’t give me huge amounts of grief when put into perspective.

 

There hasn’t really been much to report on in the recovery front. My physio work has been mainly to be strapped into a Compex machine and having my muscles worked by electronic impulses. I anticipate that now things will get more interesting as I can move my arm freely (or at least to the point where the anchors start catching).

 

The six weeks and the strict limitations and restrictions that doctors set for me have had an impact on my fitness levels. After completing my first proper body weight workout today (which included more than squats) I felt a bit winded and out of shape, but I knew to prepare myself mentally for that so that it didn’t come as a surprise.

 

This whole operation and getting back was always going to be facing the challenge head on and working hard to overcome it. It’s not going to be easy, but I am looking forward to the punishing workouts that lie ahead. I’ve viewed this as an opportunity and it still continues to be an opportunity to be stronger and improve weaknesses.

 

What of the future then?

 

Well I’m going on to an agressive recovery plan, which the surgeon said that has proved better results in athletic people. According to this plan I should be back in weight training – though light at first – by July 23rd and starting to skate in non contact environment at the same time. From there things will progress quicker and I should be ready to start contact training in September and be ready to start playing in October.

Like said, there’s a long hard road ahead, but it is not going to get me down.


There has been renewed rumours and discussion about Teemu Selanne joining Jokerit for its inaugural KHL season. The rumour has been floating around since Jokerit announced that it would join the league for the 2014-2015 season. The rumours got more wind under its wings after Jokerit GM and Teemu’s friend, Jari Kurri said that he would sit down with Selanne when he is in Finland to discuss it seriously and find out if Teemu has the drive to play “one more year”.

 

During the NHL play-offs there was talk of Teemu’s KHL career when a Russian news paper quoted Teemu saying that it was entirely possible. However, after the bitter game seven loss to LA Kings, Selanne admitted that it is unlikely and has spoken about what activities await him in Anaheim after his career is finished.

 

This is purely speculation, but I think Selanne is unlikely to join the Jokerit team because:

 

1) It is far away from his home in California and it is unlikely that he will want to uproot his family for a year and disrupt his kids’ school. It would be likely that should Teemu choose to play in the KHL, his family would stay behind in Anaheim. As a family man, does he want to leave his family for the whole season?

 

2) It is a lot of travel and Teemu has admitted that sometimes he has feared travelling when having to fly in adverse weather. Combine that with the long haul away trips that could potentially be flown with Russian planes that have a questionable reputation since the Lokomotiv air disaster.

 

3) Teemu has a desire to win. I doubt that Jokerit will be able to muster together a team that will challenge for the Gagarin Cup. I would anticipate that the team will be strong, but not a championship contender.

 

4)Where I think that Selanne would be able to compete and play to a high level at the KHL, given what we saw of him in Sochi, the whole “let’s bring in Selanne” motto sounds like a big marketing ploy than anything else. Would I pay money to see Teemu Selanne play in my native? Absolutely! He is an enigmatic person and has a lot of pull both on the ice and off it.

 

5) Does he really “need” to play? No! At almost 44-years old, Selanne has given his everything as a player. He has ample knowhow and knowledge that can be used elsewhere within the game and I think he has more than earned his retirement. There is life outside of hockey and he, if anyone has deserved it.

 

I’m not saying Selanne couldn’t play at the KHL level. He proved that he could play in the NHL, even if Bruce Boudreau decided that Selanne can play in a diminished role. The Olympics showed that Selanne is still an offensive threat.

 

How I would like to see Selanne utilised? He has told Urheilu-Sanomat’s editor in chief Vesa Rantanen that he wants to set up a goal scoring clinic where he would teach Finnish junior players the art of scoring. Getting the insight from a man who has notched over 680 goals in the NHL is something that would be awe-inspiring.

 

I’ve seen a few videos of Selanne where he discusses junior training and sports in general and it is hugely interesting. The man has a knowledge base and the background that could be used to develop players on a national level, if not work with young prospects in the NHL. Let’s not forget that Teemu Selanne’s career was pretty much over by the 04-05 Lock out. However, after undergoing knee surgery and completely changing how he trains to get back to the top talks volumes of how Selanne can help the younger players achieve more.

 

Where Selanne may not win a Stanley Cup as a player, I think it is entirely possible that he will add a few rings to his collection in a front office role. In an ideal world, I would like to see Teemu Selanne, Jere Lehtinen, Saku Koivu and Ville Nieminen set up a think tank to improve the quality of Finnish hockey players and set up a sort of programme of excellence.

 

One can dream.

Whilst we wait for further news on Selanne’s plans, I think I’m not alone in saying that he has deserved his retirement.


It has been 1-week (and a couple of days) since the surgery and there isn’t that much to report in terms of progress. I had my first physio session for the shoulder just recently and even that looks like it will be a tedious process.

 

In terms of physio and the type of repair that was performed on my shoulder, I will be mainly hooked up to a fancy muscle stimulating machine (think of an abdominal machine on shopping TV) for half an hour to prevent huge muscle wastage around the shoulder. Then after that it is 15 minutes of assisted moving of the arm and doing my herp derp pendulum exercises (which I have to do four times per day). It is going to be an arduous process, I can tell that already.

 

I have already started to notice the signs of muscle wastage, particularly on the arms and the pectoral muscles. I guess I will have to go hard at the gym when I’m allowed. At the moment, my fitness exercises are limited to doing bodyweight squats and lunges etc. I’m not allowed to run, jump or do much at this stage. I suppose it will get easier once I get rid of the sling.

 

In terms of the damage, I did a real number on the shoulder. Apparently I had a tear in my labrum (if you think of a clock) the extended from 1 o’clock to 6 o’clock (at the front) and from 7 o’clock to 11 o’clock posterior (that is if I remember reading the surgery notes right), plus the ruptured bicep tendon, which was re-attached where it was supposed to live. My physio did tell me that when I get back to hockey, I’m likely to experience some tightness in the shoulder when going into take a shot, but that it should ease off. The key part of that sentence is “WHEN I GET BACK TO HOCKEY”. It is a relief as I know that I will be able to get back to the game and should play without any limitations once fully healed.

 

Life one handed has had its challenges. I am fully appreciative now of how important the use of both hands is. It is something you take for granted. I know there are people worse off than me. People who have lost one or both of their arms and I can only admire those people and how they have picked themselves up and re-taught themselves how to get on without an arm.

 

For me the most difficult thing has been not being able to pick up my son. Before the operation I used to pick him up and throw him about and have him walk around the house whilst holding to my hands. Right now, I can’t do any of that, let alone take him swimming, something that had become a father-son activity for us.

 

Otherwise, I still need help cutting up my meat-based meals, I need help getting dressed (though mainly getting T-shirts on), drying myself after a shower is difficult, as is shampooing myself. The one thing that has really weirded me out is wiping my butt after taking a dump. Doing it left handed feels so weird and foreign to me that I don’t almost know how to do it.

 

Also, typing up this blog post has been challenging and time consuming, but at least I manage, which is encouraging as I’m due to return to work.

Where the recovery may be a time consuming process and a difficult one, I am still certain that this is an opportunity for me to get stronger and better. Both mentally and physically. Where I will be saddened to lose the bulk of the muscle in my upper body, I’m sure that I’m able to build it back up. Sure, there’s no gunshows this summer, but it is not the end of the world. In only few weeks, I’ll (hopefully) be allowed to start doing more workouts and fitness work, which should give me an outlet for any frustrations.

Are we human?

Posted: April 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

Those were the last words I heard as I was being put under for my shoulder surgery. the surgeon was a bit of a killer’s fan as I heard a whole cavalcade of killer’s best of… collection.

So to those who don’t know yet, I underwent surgery to fix my shoulder that stems back to a 2012 car accident. The accident combined with an active life style meant that my shoulder wore off quickly and caused a further injury. This would’ve been something I would’ve avoided if I was a total couch potato, but given my activities and work, the shoulder really made its presence known.

So I had an anterior stabilisation of the shoulder carried out, along with a SLAP lesion (which if I remember right from the recovery room covered 60% of my labrum) plus a ruptured bicep tendon. The good news is that the operation went well and it wasn’t as bad as the doctors had feared.

So, now I’m in recovery mode, but the good thing is that I should recover quickly and I’ve set myself an aggressive return schedule with the physio and I’m looking forward to getting back to the swing of things. For now my arm is in a sling for 6 weeks which will be a struggle, but I’m viewing this as an opportunity to get mentally stronger.

Every injury is an opportunity if you learn to treat it as such. I will be updating this blog more frequently of the lessons learnt and how the fight back is going.