Posts Tagged ‘Teamwork’


The air cool and cold. Should be used to it this time of year. Saturdays on the road, couple of hours in the car, prepping your mind to what lays ahead. The 60 minutes, broken into fragments of 45 seconds of explosiveness where everything you have in your body, your legs, is revved up to compete with five others who share a sheet of ice with you, fighting along with you are a group of guys that have come together for the same cause, a cause that has been drilled into our psyche for years upon years.

 

Saturdays, on the road, couple of hours in a car. There might not be fragments of 45 seconds where you explode on the ice against five other players, but with a group of guys, who have grown to be a second family. We get put through our paces in a section of drills that have been designed to improve a teams’ game.

 

Regardless of the scenario, the mentality is the same. We turn up and we leave the world as we know it, on a day-to-day basis, behind. Once we walk into the cool and cold embrace of an ice rink, we know what we are there to do, be it a game or training. It is an escape, an exhilarating ride that pushes your body to its limit.

 

What I love most about the whole hockey life style, which is something that I have grown to appreciate as I’ve become older, is the moment when you first step on to a fresh sheet of ice. It’s in that moment that you truly understand what a great game you are able to be part of, and the special group of people you share that ice with. There’s nothing quite that compares to it. Well I can think of a few things, but this is not that kind of blog.

 

The reason I started to ponder all this was after I spoke to a colleague of mine was whether I could live a life without the game. Where I eventually have to face up to the fact that this body wont hold out forever, I honestly could not see myself living a different life and I hope that I can pass the lifestyle on to the next generation of Virtanen’s when the time is right.

 

60 minutes. Funny, how we sometimes take days to prepare for 60 minutes. The preparation for those 45 second fragments, the concentration required for each shift, each different from the last. The bounces, the missed opportunities, the successes all come together for an entity that creates a wholly unique experience to the fan and the player.

 

Hockey, for the player or the fan, does not end once the final buzzer goes. Fans analyse the game, discuss the chances and the win or loss of their team, while the players gather round for the post game briefing from the coach which depends on the outcome and the way the 60 minutes unfolded.

 

The Saturday night lights finally go out, the players drive home, reliving those segments of 45 seconds and the overall 60 minutes. After all those moments, all you can do is count the minutes, hours, days to the next time you will be stepping onto the fresh sheet of ice and for the Saturday night lights to come on once more. 

 

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Well the wait is finally over. The puck has dropped and the season is under way. I think I’ve been looking forward to this ever since the doctors cleared me to play after the concussion. The thought of not being able to play really re-ignited my love for the game again and definitely made me work hard during the summer.

As most of the hockey world knows, this off season has been really dark for the hockey community. With the deaths of Wade Belak, Rick Rypien and Derek Boogard over the summer and of course the devastating loss of the entire Yaroslav Lokomotiv team. It wasn’t an easy wake up this morning, after receiving a news alert to say that the surviving player Alex Galimov had passed away due to the injuries he sustained in the crash. I had held out hope that Galimov would pull through, despite the grave injuries he received. Never the less he put up one hell of a fight.

No matter what level you play this game at, losses like the ones mentioned above are terrible. Even if we don’t know the players on a personal level, we’ve all watched them play and admired their skills they’ve displayed on the ice and the moments of jubilation they have provided to the fans of the game. I don’t even want to begin to imagine what the players’ families and friends are going through, but looking at the pictures and videos from the memorial services around the globe, the loss is visibly heart breaking.I’ve read stories that have reduced me to tears and seen fans remember the players in a way that has brought a smile to my face, not because the stories were funny, but because they were so touching and you could tell how much the game and the guys meant to people all around the world.

As we started our season, we respected those who lost their lives and remembered their families in the Yaroslav plane crash and the 9/11 disaster by a minutes silence. Personally I was touched by the rink falling totally silent for a minute as we paid our respects to the lives lost. To me, it doesn’t matter what level of the game we play the game, we are all part of the same hockey community and regardless of skills or ability, the reasons why we play the game are much the same.

In closing, my thoughts go out to the victims’ families and friends at this difficult time.

Our first game was something that we wanted to skate away with a W under our belts and that we did. We played an amazing first period in the game took command early on. We were hungry to win this game since it was our first game of the year and given that our last season’s games ended in us losing both of them.

 

There are lots of positives we can all take away from the game, though we did take our foot off the gas in the third. Hockey is a 60 minute game (or 65 if you’re lucky enough to play overtimes) so the work ethic must be there throughout the game. But after all it was the first game of the year. Yet we can’t use that as an excuse as teams we will be facing from now on will have games under their belts and will probably get the wind of our success. I’m not taking anything away from the team, but we have to work hard moving forwards. The win was awesome no bones about it!

 

Personally I enjoyed playing, up until midway through the second when my skates started chewing my feet to bits. As I write I’ve got blisters on both my feet and they feel puffy. The skates have been on their way out. Looking at prices for new skates, they cost more than our fridge freezer! Seriously!!! For the money some of these skates retail at I’m hoping they cook me my breakfast and serve it in my bed.

 

There’s some exciting stuff coming up on this blog so keep your eyes peeled. I’m looking to do some video blogging, which will probably scare off the readers as they’ll have to look at my ugly mug.