Grind of the years and the mileage throughout it. Maybe not the best body mechanics , but it has never slowed them down. Maybe not the best skilled players, but still there every training, every game, despite the aching joints and busted knees and so forth. The body might be older than the person, but the mind is forever young.
The mind is the only thing that sometimes keeps these guys going. The feeling of being in the changing room and around ‘the guys’ is something they wouldn’t trade for anything. The war horse has been through it all. Bitter losses, big wins. The works. However, he still arrives at the rink with the same enthusiasm as in the junior years.
Sure the off season might be longer and training has to be smarter, the recovery process from games is not what it used to be, but being able to play the game is more than enough. There’s no better feeling than lacing up the skates and hitting the ice.
The late nights, the road trips, the stops at highway rest stops, trying to find something that’s plausible as food. There’s quite simply nothing that the war horses would trade all of these for. The body might not be the same as it once was, but the brain, the brain is still there and the smarts for the game will never leave.
The war horse might not beat a younger player for speed, but they will know how to make the play. The hands may not be as fast as they once were and he younger, YouTube generation, will be forever more creative.
But the war horse is not just someone who has the wounds to prove his career, he is there to guide the younger generation, he is there to show leadership and use his experience for the better of the team.
The war horse in this is not me. At least not yet. I can only hope that I will be a war horse one day. To me being recognised as a hardworking player who does not give up is one of the better accolades a player may get. Sure there are no trophies on the mantle, but the knowledge and acknowledgement that you left everything on the ice, every night is worth more than that.