Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

2015-2016 Season Review

Posted: April 17, 2016 in Uncategorized

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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.

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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

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First game back after the spinal injections. I was pain free and felt awesome

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.

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First game back in January. In severe pain, but anything for the logo on the front of the shirt

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. 

Milestones

Posted: April 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

I’ll be approaching a couple of milestones on the quest to better myself as a person, the final one that I’ll detail is the most important one, which is hell to deal with,  but perhaps taught me more about myself than anything else. So here goes…

Beard:

I’ve not shaved for a year… woo… 

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TV:

This is only a minor milestone, but we – as the Virtanen household – are approaching five months without TV…. As in free-view or cable. We still have a TV. Our means of watching ‘televised’ entertainment is all through on-demand services like Amazon Prime, Netflix, NHL.TV and YouTube. Personally, I feel somewhat liberated by this whole experience. Previously, I felt somewhat chained and like programming was somehow binding us to watching certain things at certain times. Yes, you can record and watch things on-demand through likes of Sky, but it didn’t feel natural anymore.

From a monetary point of view, it made no sense paying over the odds for Sky, when the content offered by on-demand services is better, I don’t have to wait till a certain date to watch a show and I was paying way too much to watch a handful of shows that were littered with adverts. My view is that if I’ve paid for a subscription to something, I should not be watching adverts.

The effect this has had on life in general? I’m going to bed earlier, I’m no longer watching a TV show for the sake of just watching something and we are interacting more as a family as opposed to having the idiot box on. The times when the idiot box is on, it usually has a kids’ TV show on. Main use for the TV now is to watch sports… again as and when I feel like it and DVDs.

Worried about missing shows? Nah.. At the end of the day, they are TV shows and they only last a fleeting moment without giving us much satisfaction. That hour or two that was wasted can now be spent better with family.

Energy drink free:

In May, I will hit a milestone of a year without energy drinks. I used to have the worst habit on the planet when it came to these pieces of shit, usually going through 3-4 500ml cans per day. You don’t need to be a scientist to realise how bad that is for your health. Despite energy drinks saying that they’ll give you wings and make you wreck your pants because they make you awesome, I find that without them, I am actually more energetic than I used to be. Even with athletic performance has improved without the use of energy drinks as opposed to before when I thought that I’d need a can of Red Bull to get through a workout.

At the peak of the habit I was having really bad problems with my stomach and I would have the most painful shits ever. I don’t know what chemical in the drinks caused this but since stopping it has gotten a lot better.

What surprises me is that there is no health warning on these drinks and that they are not age restricted. It sickens me when I see kids buy multiple cans of this junk and drink it like it’s water. The sugar content is so high and all the other additives in them make them one of – I think – key contributors to childhood obesity. Down a few cans of this crap while you’re sat playing Call of Duty and hey presto, you’ll soon see your weight sky rocket.

I didn’t wean myself off of the drinks but stopped cold turkey. The first few days and weeks were hell with a constant headache and feeling really fatigued. I felt that I couldn’t last a day without one, but if you just stick with it and persevere that motherfucker of a headache you’ll be good. It wasn’t easy by any stretch of imagination, but being stubborn and having set my mind to it that this will be the end of it, I stuck to it.

This was the first part of my overall plan to cut out (refined) sugar in its entirety from my diet. I am making more and more of a conscious effort to cut it out, but there are still times that I fall for a fizzy drink like a can of coke (which is almost as bad as a can of energy drink). But I can’t remember the last time I would’ve bought a six pack of coke for home. If it’s not there, there’s no temptation to drink it.

Depression:

It is roundabout a year now that I published a post about my battle with depression. A year on from that post and I’m happy to say that I am doing better. I’m not perfect and I doubt that I’ll never be fully stable, but I am now better equipped to deal with my moods. I have a strong support network in place and I know that on a day-to-day basis, I need a release of some kind. Without a release, which is usually weight lifting, I will have a bad day and I will revert to an angry, negative wolf.

Life has its stresses and I’m not denying that there wouldn’t be things that get me down. On the flipside of it all, I’m no longer a nervous wreck and have a panic attack when the mail comes through the post box. You see, a year ago, I would literally freak out the minute I heard the mail hit the floor. Whether it was bills or anything it felt daunting to go out and open it. I would use the back door to leave the house so I could avoid looking at the mail rather than go out the front. The human mind is a complex thing and I don’t know which wires in my brain are crossed that cause me to go through periods such as these.

What it has taught me, however, is perseverance and mental toughness. I try to take lessons from everything in life and those are probably the two that I will take from the experience. I hit rock bottom last year to the point that I came close to doing something irreversible, but some part of me wanted to hang on. I’m not lying when I say that the urge to let go was powerful.

When I look back, I am fortunate with what I have and what I am able to do. There are people out there that are worse off and the only bit of anxiety and frustration that I have I can’t do much to help and make a difference.

So there, those are just a few milestones that I have coming up or that I’m “celebrating”. I guess you could say that over the past year I’ve been on a journey of self discovery of sorts. It’s been tough, but worth every second. Even the ones when letting go seemed like the only way out.


Lately there has been a renewed conversation about the use of performance enhancing drugs (PEDs) in the wake of Maria Sharapova’s positive test result for the drug meldonium. Since Sharapova, the list* of athletes that have been caught for using the drug has grown to include:

Name Country Sport Where Consequences/Ban
Maria Sharapova  Russia Tennis 2016 Australian Open Unknown
Semion Elistratov  Russia Short track speed skating Unknown
Pavel Kulizhnikov  Russia Speed skating 2016 World Sprint Speed Skating Championships – Men Unknown
Alexander Markin  Russia Volleyball Unknown
Eduard Vorganov  Russia Cycling January 14th, 2016 Unknown
Ekaterina Bobrova  Russia Figure skating 2016 European Figure Skating Championships Unknown
Eduard Latypov  Russia Biathlon Provisionally suspended
Olga Abramova  Ukraine Biathlon Unknown
Artem Tyshchenko  Ukraine Biathlon Unknown
Davit Modzmanashvili  Georgia Wrestling Unknown
Jekaterina Konstantinova  Russia Short track speed skating Unknown
Abeba Aregawi  Sweden Athletics Unknown
Endeshaw Negesse  Ethiopia Athletics Unknown

 

Add to the growing list of athletes, there is also the tug of war – to put it mildly – between the NHL and WADA regarding doping testing of hockey players during the World Cup of Hockey (WCoH). As the WCoH is an NHL organised tournament, it is not bound by the same rules or tests as, say the World Championships would be, which fall under IIHF jurisdiction where athletes are tested in accordance with WADA procedures.

Further from the realm of hockey, it was only this week that Jarred Tinordi of the Phoenix Coyotes was found to have tested positive for a forbidden substance in the NHL’s Performance Enhancing Drug tests. Earlier this season, Shawn Horcoff was also found to have tested positive. Both received a suspension of 20 games without pay. Since 2007, there have been five players who have tested positive for PEDs in the NHL, but the trouble is that the NHL’s tests are conducted behind closed doors and it does not reveal a whole lot of information on the tests, to the point that the wider public could almost forget that the NHL does test its athletes.

In the wake of the Sharapova test result and the NHL-WADA struggle, Teemu Selanne, spoke out in his blog about testing, going as far as to say that all players who test positive for PEDs should receive a lifetime ban. You can read Selanne’s blog here. According to Selanne’s post an NHL player gets tested 4-6 times during the season by the league, which is not that often if you think about how long the season is.

It is rather surprising that since 2007 only five NHLers have been found to have tested positive. One would think that in a competitive environment such as the NHL, finding a competitive edge is prone to push some people to look at ways to enhance their performance. The trouble is that because the testing is conducted behind ‘closed’ doors it is difficult to know what drugs the NHL is looking for.

For example, Washington Capitals’ Nicklas Backstrom tested positive for Pseudo-ephedrine during the Sochi Olympics in 2014 and was banned from playing in the Olympic final. In the wake, it transpired that ‘Sudies’ are quite common in the NHL and it is not one of the drugs tested for.

So to the wider conversation in sports: should we be surprised that some athletes turn to PEDs to gain an edge and are we too blue-eyed to the fact that we assume that one sport is completely clean?

To answer the first part of the question first – and this is based on my opinion only, not facts – no it is not surprising that athletes turn to PEDs. I’m not defending athletes that use PEDs, but I sort of understand why they do it. When you are in the ultra competitive world of professional sports, you know your shelf life as an athlete is extremely limited and your career prime is measured in a matter of few years. You can train your bags off, but there will always be that fear in the back of your head that someone else is going to be better than you. The pressures to perform in competition are huge and to add to this, it is how you need to make a living. Essentially, the more you win, the more you’ll earn through prize money, the more your profile grows along with endorsement deals.

Say you made it to the top completely clean and you notice age is starting to catch up to you and your doctor says, “Here’s this drug that will help with your performance. It’s not a 100% kosher, but it will help you perform a little bit better.” The decision might not be instant to go “Give it me”, but the seed has been planted. Once you try it in training a few times, you notice a difference in performance and then, like with narcotics, you soon realise that you need it more and more to boost your performance. Going without it makes you nervous and you psychologically you feel like you can’t play as well without it.

Professional athletes are willing to go to extraordinary measures to be at the top of their game and perform in situations that most common people would not know how to handle. In the 1980s and 1990s there was a study carried out where a group of athletes and people were asked a hypothetical question of whether they would take a drug that meant they would win a championship, but would mean they’d die  five years later. In the 80s and 90s over 50% of people said they would, but in recent years that number has dropped.

Athletes often say they are willing to do anything and everything to win, so I am not the least bit surprised that in every event and/or sport, there are revelations that some people have taken PEDs. What I do find sad, is that some sports hold their drugs testing behind closed doors. If we really wanted to eliminate PEDs from sports all sports, regardless of governing bodies, need to adhere to the same standard of testing and be completely transparent about their testing methods and number of people tested and when they were tested.

While in hockey, only five players have been caught, I think that it is rather naïve to think that hockey doesn’t have a wider PED issue. Because of the closed door policy in the NHL we don’t tend to find out the extent of it. Similarly in leagues outside of the USA, we don’t know the frequency of drug tests that players have to face throughout the season.

When it comes to athletes getting caught, they should acknowledge that they are responsible of what they put in their bodies. Like in Sharapova’s case, she said that she has been taking the drug for a number of years for a medical reason, but she did not even make her medical records available during the press conference to dispel the doubts. Her defence seems rather botched given the number of other athletes  that have been caught using the same substance.  But similarly, the substance, meldonium, was only recently added to the list of banned substances, so it is curious of how many people are currently using substances that are not on the banned substance list, but still give a performance boost.

Atheltes are willing to do anything and everything in their power to win. It is wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if many of the sporting icons we look up to, use ‘substances’ that improve performance that are not on a banned substance list. Professional sport is a cut-throat industry, where your chance to capitalise on your peak is limited. However, at the end of the day, it is solely the athlete’s responsibility on what they put in their bodies and if caught using a banned substance, trying to shift blame on anyone else – like medical team for example – is dishonest to the sport and the fans of the sport.
 

P.S. If people want, I am more than happy to publish the list of supplements that I use and should there ever be a request, I will more than happily submit a sample for PED testing.

*source: Wikipedia

My game-day play list

Posted: March 10, 2016 in Uncategorized

I did a post like this a few years ago and it was quite well liked, so I thought that I’d revisit the topic and provide you with a new pre-game playlist. As a throwback, here’s what was on my pre-game playlist in 2011 and admittedly, it’s a bit bland and – to be crude about it – bit pansy. 
· P.O.D – Boom

· Pantera – 5 minutes alone

· The Killers – All the Things that I have done

· Eminem – Not Afraid

· Zombie Nation – Kernkraft 400

· EndStand – I Promise Not to stay quiet

· InFlames – Dead Alone

· Alexisonfire – Young Cardinals

· CMX – Linnunrata

· My Chemical Romance – Na na na

· Bleeding Through – Self defeating Anthem

· Cold Play – Fix you.
If you want to read the reasoning why the above songs were on the list, you can see the 2011 post here: https://pushforpros.wordpress.com/2011/01/05/on-my-ipod/

The current playlist would scare the carp out of that list. I’m massively into hardcore, punk, metalcore or whatever you want to call it (and was back then already), so overtime, my list has gotten a bit heavier, but with a bit more meaning behind the choices.
· Deftones – Swerve City: The reason why I chose this track as an opener is the killer guitar riff at the start. It’s up-tempo and starts getting the body ready for action.

· Bring Me The Horizon – Throne: It’s not BMTH’s heaviest effort or the most ‘violent’, but the chorus of “You can throw me to the wolves, tomorrow I will come back leader of the whole pack” adequately describes my mentality. There’s no giving up.

· Miss May I – Hey Mister: It’s heavy and has an awesome riff. Similar to Deftones, it just gets everything going.

· AFI – TotalImmortal: It’s again a high energy track and one of my all time favourite AFI tracks. It was on a gym playlist to begin with, but it worked in the gym so I put it on the game-day one as well.

· Obey The Brave – I am Winter: Again, the lyrics and chorus are why this was put on the list. “No where to go but up from here…” is a powerful line.

· Eminem – Kings Never Die: When I heard this track on the movie Southpaw, it’s been a favourite for game days, mainly because of the lyrics are all about coming back and being stronger than your opponents.

· Iron Son – Unleash Hell: The song title says it all why it’s on the list and what you need to aim to do every shift.

· Comeback Kid – somewhere in this miserable: The opening line of “Trading back highs and lows, within the blink of an eye” pretty much sums up the game that hockey is. Also, the chorus of messed up, pissed off, build on it sends a strong mental message

· This is Hell – Disciples: One of my all time favourite tracks. Just high energy.

· Bleeding Through – Walking Dead: It’s quite a ferocious track plus the lyrics of “I will not leave you behind, but you’ve got to fight for your life” are powerful.

· Leo – Fatty Boom Boom (Die Antwoord cover): I like Die Antwoord’s version, but Leo – a crazy Norwegian dude who does a whole load of pop-to-metal covers – has really put a great spin on the track

· Lionheart – LHHC: It’s just fucking bad ass!

· The Ghost Inside – Wide Eyed: A song about facing up to adversity and overcoming every obstacle in your way

· Machine Head – Game Over

· Walls of Jericho – Revival Never Goes out of Style: “all this time, wishing our voices could be heard, now we finally have a voice and no-one says a fucking word. So let’s scream as loud as we can and make it fucking break and let nothing stand in our way!” says it all.


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It has been a while since an update on these pages. It has been not through lack of writing, though. I’ve had a bunch of posts in the works, but I have always ended up deleting the posts for one reason or another. Possibly because there hasn’t been much in terms of an actual update. It has just been rambling, for the sake of rambling. What’s going on then?

Well, it has been no secret that I’ve had problems with my back, but the good news is that I had the problem treated. A few weeks ago I had an injection and a caudal epidural put in to pump a bunch of cortisone in the back and it seems to have worked. Once all the muscle tension was gone I felt normal… for the first time in ages.

I’ve played one game since the injection and it feels strange being able to move, transition and do stops and starts without feeling any pain. The one thing that has suffered big time is the conditioning side of things. While I worked out throughout the back ordeal, my work outs were limited to chest, (seated) arm exercises, and some shoulder work, seated where possible. What was lacking in all of the work outs was that I could not train explosiveness or keep up general conditioning. Bike work was OK for about 5 minutes before the repetitive motion was too much to bare. Same for cross trainer. Where I’m doing a bit better, I still can’t run without pain, but all in due time.

Right now as we’ve got a break from games before the final crunch of the season, I’ve been working my nuts off at the gym to try and gain back some of the overall conditioning that I lost. We are still in contention for a play-off spot and we are in the cup semi-finals weekend, which means that every game is important and we can’t afford to slip up. A similar situation as we had last season, where after Christmas we could not afford to lose a single game and went 11 straight undefeated to be crowned conference and league champions. So plenty of hockey to be played and a lot of important games on the line. The age old adage of “spring is hockey players’ best time” is true. The game schedule is stacked from here to April and then beyond. What this season has shown is that the league is more competitive and the competition is ever closer. There is no such thing as an easy game anymore.

With regards to the back issue, one question I have had more often than not over the whole ‘ordeal’ is that is this it, am I done playing?

To be brutally honest, the thought had been plaguing my mind. But it wouldn’t have been because of the back only. For three seasons now, I’ve had to deal with adversity. I played a season with a shoulder that was pretty held together by a thread, the season after I lost all of the summer to rehabbing from the surgery and only hit my stride March-April time and now the back issue plagued me for nearly five months. When the back was at its worst, I thought that I can’t be going through this again; Working myself to a great level of fitness and playing some good hockey for it all to be sent back to square one in pretty much one instant. I wasn’t sure if I had it in me to get back. BUT (there’s always a but)… When I looked back on my career, I have always fought adversity and the odds. When doctors told me that I should not be playing because of my knees, I pretty much said “fuck you, I’ll prove you wrong.”

That has been my motto throughout my career, I’ve always fought against adversity and where at one time it felt like I couldn’t do it anymore, let me tell you that I am 100% not going anywhere, sorry to anyone that would rather see the back of me, but I’m going to be lacing them up in the future as well. Now that I am pain free and have had a game under my belt without pain, I still love the game and everything that goes with it.


 

As I sat on my couch last night, watching hockey with the room lit only by the glare from the TV and the lights from the Christmas tree, I realised something. I have been extremely fortunate. I have grown up during a time when winters were still winters and we had white Christmases. OK, in my older age, I might complain about the cold and how it gets to all my operated joints, but as a kid, there was nothing better than winter and the anticipation when the school’s tennis courts, football pitches would don rinks and ice.

Usually, we got to get our first outdoor skating sessions in November. There is some hockey romanticism in that, but what I find sad is that many kids don’t get to experience that now-a-days. OK I live abroad from my native and here a white Christmas would cause more chaos than something that would be revered. But my son might never get to experience what I grew up with and that is quite sad.

 

To me, when I played hockey outdoors on those school rinks, it was hockey at its purest. There was no competition, no outward pressures, there were no hard feelings after a loss. It was a way that kids came together. Guys from  high-school would play with kids from middle school and anyone who was at the rink with a pair of skates and a stick and wanted to play. There was no them and us. It was just pure.

 

Even though today, if I went back, then wind chill would probably be blistering on my face, but then again, most Christmases that I have spent at home, they have been what they are here. In almost seventeen years abroad, I have had two white Christmases in Finland, and during one of those I had the opportunity to play outdoors. Last Christmas was a white one, but it only started to snow day before Christmas eve, with no chance to get a rink going.

 

Thanks to global warming, winters now come much later as well as summers. What I knew as winter would start at the end of October and would extend all the way to March, while summer was definitely in by June. Now you’re lucky if your summer vacation will see any sun as the summer doesn’t tend to arrive until much later.

 

Hopefully, one day, I can take my kids back and play with them outdoors under the starlit skies, without a care in the world and that the only thing that matters is the puck and skating.

 

I love playing proper league hockey, but I miss those days from my youth when there was nothing better than to grab your skates, stick and pucks and cycle to the rink and spend the best part of your evening playing hockey.

Dealing with the Injury Ninja

Posted: December 15, 2015 in Uncategorized

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This post was first going to be extolling the virtues of pushing through the pain barrier and playing through pain. However, it would feel remiss to publish that post as it was, because the injury I tried to play though has sidelined me until the new year. So my 2015 side of the 2015-2016 hockey season ended in November after a game on the Isle of Wight.

 

A week later we were due to play Basingstoke Buffalo, and where I had already struggled with the injury through the week I went training, but by the end, I had to ask team mates to help me get my skates off. I was still convinced I could play, but instead of finding myself going through my normal pre-game routines, I found myself at the emergency department, with no feeling in my left leg and a whole host of other symptoms that pointed toward a serious condition. Luckily it wasn’t the more serious, life altering condition, but none the less, the pain was real and debilitating.

After getting the painkillers from the doctors I thought, right, I can take these and play through it. Obviously this lead to an argument at home and usually my wife doesn’t win too many of the sports related ones where I want to play even if I’m in pain, but she won this one. She told me that I could play if I could put my skates on without wincing in pain. I couldn’t even bend down to do my laces.

So yeah, I’ve missed altogether 3 games, and the time between the last game I played and the first potential one is going to be approximately 8 weeks.

 

Even on work front, I was being told to take it easy and rest to get myself to get back to full fitness quicker, but being a bone head, I was happily hammering my head against a concrete wall, not wanting to give up. But in the end, I had to admit defeat.

 

So why do this? Why fight against the injury you know will not allow you to play?

 

It is difficult to explain, but the best way I can explain it is that I am willing to do whatever it takes to help my team win. I believe that when I have signed for a team and pull on the jersey, my body and every ounce of my being belongs to the team and I need to be there to help them win. Help the team battle, to show my team mates that I will not be defeated, to show everyone that I will not give up and nothing will stop me. I approach work with the same mentality. With me, its all or nothing.

 

Having to call the coach or my manager and tell them that I can’t play or make it to work is gut wrenching. I feel like I am letting everyone down and that I have revealed a weakness in my armor, a weakness in my body that I have built to withstand hits and the rigors of the game.

 

So having now “admitted defeat” I am actively trying to work myself back into full fitness so that I can be of use to my teams (hockey and work). On the sports front I have told my physio that I want to be pain free before Christmas – that’s next week at the time of writing this. I’ve told them that I will do everything, I will work harder than any one else. I am determined that I will get the all clear by then. Even if it means that I am doing something extra to make sure that I am ahead of the curve.

 

Additionally, where I can’t do any heavy lifting due to the injury, I am still trying to make use of the time and work on areas that I can. When I was recovering from my shoulder surgery, I was working on my legs. I looked at the injury from the point of view that even if I had my arm in a sling for six weeks, it didn’t mean I could just sit on my fat ass for six weeks. My legs still worked so I could at least make sure that my legs were going to be in good shape and my endurance level would be right up there.

 

With this injury I’m working on grip strength to try and build a bit more power into my shooting. I’ve found that where I am getting into scoring and shooting areas, my shot strength hasn’t been the best so if I can use the injury to improve on that area, then it is not time completely wasted. Yes, I’d rather be skating and working, but I need to accept the fact that at the moment I can’t. Truth be told, I should have put my hand up earlier, but being a jerk, I played through it.

 

What of the games I have played so far? I think they’ve gone well. Even though the points haven’t been coming in thick and fast, I think I’ve performed consistently and always brought 100% and left everything on the ice. I think I’ve been more physical this season than in the past few years and I feel that it has provided some more energy. I still want to push for more though. I’m not satisfied with what I’ve done so far. Progress ends in satisfaction, so I will keep working. Not giving up or letting up in training or in games.

 

I will hit the ice in 2016 with a vengeance, both in training and games. By the time I get back on the ice, I have had a long break so I will be fresh and ready to do whatever it takes to win.

 

WHAT EVER IT TAKES!