Eventhough I’ve tried to answer this in a post titled “why we play?” I felt that something inside me stirred about the sport itself.
Hockey, when you dedicate yourself to it, can be all consuming. Whether it is as a player, fan or as a hockey parent, hockey takes up your free time, your weekends, evenings and perhaps nights if you are a European following the NHL.
As a player, hockey is something that has given a lot to me, but it has also taken a lot. It has caused me insurmountable pain through injuries that have at times left me unable to get out of bed. It has taken me to some wonderful (and less wonderful) places and I have met some great (and not so great) people along the way. I have witnessed a how dedicated fans give up their weekends for half the year, just to travel thousands of miles on a coach to watch their favourite team play.
To me, hockey is not about money or fame. Those are not even on the priority list. What I play this sport for and the reason why I play for the team that I play for (and the teams I have played on), is because I believe in them. I believe that all the teams I have represented, there is a chance to achieve something great. There is a chance to experience something as a group that no-one else can experience. The season is a series of moments shared with your team mates, your family and the fans.
Just as a dedicated family man will do everything for his family, a hockey player does the same for his team. Not for the name printed on the back of the shirt, but for the crest in front and what that stands for and the values it represents. Those sacrifices go beyond just winning a game. Those sacrifices are made for pride, for the community around the team and most importantly, for your love of the game.
That love for the game transcends all. It makes those painful, sweat filled hours at the gym feel like a breeze. It will make those car and coach journeys to games worth it. At the end of it all, when the season is over and regardless if you were lucky to hoist a trophy, you will know that you left everything on the ice and you gave everything to that crest on the front of the shirt – your second family – and all those sacrifices and the pain was worth it.
That is what is important to me and why I can’t wait to lace up the skates again.