The blog has been dormant of late, but hopefully that is about to change. I have had many different posts in the works, but for one reason or another I thought that they were complete drivel and decided to ditch them along the way.
It’s with some joy and some sorrow that I write this post as it is the ‘end of season roundup’ that I’ve done a few times in the past. The 2011-2012 season was pretty eventful. I read through a few of the older posts I made, I had one goal for the year and that was to have an injury free season, but that didn’t quite work out the way I planned it. As you might recall I twisted my ankle in May and in October I went under the knife to have an operation to fix the damage that I had done. It was unfortunate, but something I had to do as my ankle swelled up to a size of a tennis ball after I took my skate off. It was also getting in the way of life both on and off the ice.
Then the other injury obviously was the concussion I sustained from the car accident. In the process of the car accident I also hurt my neck, which is still giving me grief and as my physio therapist reckons I’ve torn the rotator cuff in my shoulder. So for that goal we’ll just have to put a big red cross on and mark it as unsuccessful.
I think this season has taught me more than any season before, though I say that pretty much after every year, but there is something different about this year. I think I grew as a person (que fat jokes) and as a player, but perhaps most importantly I feel I became mentally tougher. Specially after our game on the Isle of Wight. For some reason that place is always difficult for me as I always seem to come away from the island frustrated and really pissed off. We won the game there which was great, but for me personally, I came away from that game and felt like I had zero confidence in my ability or skills as a player. I had to re-focus myself again and do some soul searching to find out what it was that I liked about the game and do a lot of visualisation to get the good vibe of playing well back. From there things started to fall into place again.
It’s lows like that and how you manage them that help you become mentally stronger and a better player. Things like that often happen in hockey and they can be pretty mind boggling, but if you really want to play the game and enjoy it, you have to refocus your mind and commit to it 100%.
The other thing I think helped me grow was the captaincy. I was not expecting the guys to vote for me and to be honest when it was clear that I was to be wearing the ‘C’, I had an “oh shit” moment. I had no idea what it is like to be a captain or what the responsibilities were. I think I was more afraid of letting the guys down than anything else. It was a learning curve at first, but once the season rolled on, it became easier and easier after each game. Sure there were times when I lashed out and said things I shouldn’t have, or didn’t always have the most encouraging things to say if we were down in a game, but all in all, it wasn’t as daunting as I feared. I’m not going to start grading myself as that would just be pompous and it’s up to the guys on the team to grade me.
Overall, I think that our season has been a success. There have been times when we were out played and times when we didn’t turn up to play. Going from last years last place and leaping to a solid mid table finish is a great feat. All in all there have been some great character players on the team. We maintained the core of the team from last year and added some new guys into the mix who fit in really well. We had guys who battled for us the whole year, some through injuries and guys making 120 mile round trips just to get to training, which just goes to show the dedication the guys have for the sport.
As a team we improved, a few individuals really picked up their game and improved steadily throughout the season and we saw new guys chipping in those crucial points/goals. We also had guys on the team that were willing to do anything and everything to help us win. I personally think that this team has the chance to do something great down the line. Hockey is a consistent learning process and as long as we can push ourselves as a team and as individuals, there is an infinite number of things we can achieve, however, if we are happy with what we’ve got, we will become stagnant.
Hockey does take a lot away from you and asks a lot of balancing between work and other social engagements. The six months that the season goes on for puts a certain strain on relationships as well. It takes us players away from our loved ones and our loved ones planning their lives around our schedules. I therefore would like to extend a thanks to my wife for making the sacrifices she makes to enable me to play and the same applies to the other hockey girlfriends/wife’s of my teammates.
As an overall thought, I tweeted a few days ago saying that both the ENL leagues need playoffs and it is a very valid point. I had a chat with Boone Jenner, a Columbus Blue Jackets prospect and he asked how do we play with seemingly nothing to play for. We definitely need playoffs and a proper promotion/relegation system in place for the league. It is hockey we play, not soccer and we need a hockey style playoffs in place, not soccer where team on top is the champion.
So now what then? Well I’ve got the off season/dry land to get on with. I’ll do the same as last year and start skating in June but before that it will be gym, running, plyometrics and other exercises. Most of all, I’m looking forward to some downtime and catch up with friends I haven’t seen in a while and take my mind off hockey, apart from the Stanley Cup playoffs and for the World Championships.
Hockey doesn’t just start in September and the work we do for it doesn’t end in March. It’s a 365 day a year process that doesn’t give you a break. It is a sport that never stops, even if we are not on the ice. Once you’ve been bitten by the bug and want to improve and play at the height of your ability it is a process that means, sweat, pain, aching muscles and making the gym and the road your best friends.
Like HBO’s 24/7 said; Hockey engraves itself on the body. Boy don’t I know it, but man do I love it.