Another season has come to a close. In what seemed like a season that was going to be a good one from a personal point of view turned into everything but.
I had a great summer of getting into shape and I had no injuries to contend with. My shoulder I had operated the summer before had healed up and allowed me to train harder than I had done in years. At the gym, I set many a personal best over the summer, I increased my explosiveness and I found a whole new attitude for the game.
I started the season with confidence I had not had in years. I felt confident with every shift I was on the ice and I saw immediate results with points starting to pile up steadily. I wasn’t a point-per-game type of player, but I was contributing offensively and it was noticeable on the score sheet. I thought things were going to go up a notch when I scored my first goal in over a year in early November. This was then followed up by another good performance on the Isle of Wight in November… and then everything went horribly wrong…
To be honest, I should’ve noticed the signs in October already as before our game against the Basingstoke Buffalo in Basingstoke, I woke up barely able to walk. I got myself ready to play and had a terrible game but then after a few treatments with the Osteopath and my masseuse, I felt fine. Then 15th of November came along. I had an appointment with my osteopath and they had to send me to the hospital because they were not able to touch me without me being in searing pain.
I was sidelined until January – with what turned out to be – a prolapsed disc. I was useless on the ice. All my jump had gone, I was hesitant to go into corners and as a result my game play suffered. I tried my best to play through the pain but it wasn’t easy. Sometimes it hurt to bend down to do my skates up and a few times I had to ask my teammate to do it for me. Somehow I found the way to be successful and effective in the face-off dot though. But when you want to play, you will find a way to do it. No matter what.
My back problem ate away all my confidence. It wasn’t until February that I received an injection into my spine that
alleviated the pain and allowed me to recover, but even after I was pain free following the injection, I had to sit out a week to let it take hold. In the end I managed 5 games pain free, but severely out of shape due to not being able to train properly since November. It wasn’t until the last few training sessions of the season that I started to feel that I was getting back to it.
The back issue was not the only injury that I had to contend with. I fractured my thumb, I pulled my ligaments in my elbow, I had a severely bruised shoulder (the same I had operated a few years ago) that doctors were umming and arring whether I had separated it and to cap it off, I sustained a knee contusion in our last game (or if you want to call me a pussy, I bruised my leg).
I wrote earlier that this season the thought crept into my head of whether I had what it takes to keep coming back from injury and come back stronger. This season was mentally challenging because the pain was constant and it for the first time, the pain felt unbearable and that it was grinding me down. As a hockey player, you get used to living in pain, but this was something completely different. I didn’t sleep well because every movement sent shooting pain down my legs and back. I was on so many painkillers that it was not even funny. At its height in December, I was on 2x 30/500mg Co-codamol tablets 4x day, 2x 30mg Tramadol 4x day, 1x 600mg Naproxen 2x day, 1x Diazepam 1x day, 4x amitriptyline per night. I’m surprised I was able to function or answer people, though I think that in the main, I was a dribbling mess. Even more so than normal.
So what started as a campaign of high hopes and personal achievement turned out to be THE toughest season I’ve had to endure. Because of all of that, this – for me – is a season I would rather forget. I wanted to prove that I could produce and be effective and until November I felt like I was. For the rest of the season I was merely a shadow of what I had potential for. Which made it all the more frustrating.
The support – and concern – of the fans was overwhelming. I think many thought I was a total idiot for suiting up in January. There’s a picture of me in my first game back in warm-up and I think the look on my face is “This was a very f**king bad idea”. You can tell I am uncomfortable. But anything for the logo on the front. ANYTHING.
My sponsor, Cross Check Clothing was amazing throughout the season and I’m honoured to have worked with them this season. I hope that there is scope for more collaboration. I believe in the brand and that it is truly something that is for the players and the fans of the game and beyond. I had always wanted to team up with a company that I believed in and I really wanted to help the guys to get exposed to a wider audience and I hope that it has worked. Speaking of the Cross Check Clothing guys; they’ve just released a new summer line, so you should check it out here
So what now? Well, I’ve started to build on the fitness level I had built towards the end of the year as I’ve started my off-season training. I dug out a program that was designed for me a few years ago and I remember it being effective. I just forgot that it is a rather brutal one, but hopefully the results will speak for themselves in 2016-2017 season. That last statement should tell you that I am looking to play on and prove that season on what I had hoped to do this season.