During the pre-game at the United Center for the Hawks and Sharks this past Sunday, they ran an NHL ad on the scoreboard from their “Is this the year?” campaign. I’m paraphrasing from memory, but it went like this:
Hockey never left Chicago…
But Hockey in Chicago has returned.
The ad is related to the recent resurrgence of popularity that the Chicago Blackhawks have had in the last 18 months with a focus on their new, young talent. In fact, this ESPN post quotes an NHL report that the Blackhawks led the league in average home attendance after the first month of the season, something unheard of just three years ago.
As mentioned in previous posts here at our blog, Cindy and I have been doing are part as well. We’ve already been to 3 home games this season, and have tickets for 2 more (so far). That’s more games that we’ve seen at the UC since, well, since it replaced the Chicago Stadium.
But what does that mean to me? Well, it’s starting to hit closer to home for me, personally, and that itch to get back on the ice myself is getting harder to ignore. Talking to the ad quote from above, I pretty much left hockey, or more recently, hockey sort of left me.
In the Past
I have been fortunate to enjoy the game as both a player and coach for most of my life. As a player, I got the opprotunity to play 4 years of Varsity hockey at the High School level, in the very competitive Chicagoland area I might add. That was before I gave it all up to pursue a career in web and software development (my new life). All in all, I think it turned out for the best, and I don’t really regret any of it.
Most recently, I was given the priviledge to return to my former high school team as an Assistant Coach, the duties of which I fulfilled for 5 seasons. Unfortunately, as you can tell from the lack of activity at the site behind that last link, the team is no longer in operation after losing the required number of players needed to field a team. This is the second year without a team, and that’s what I was referring to by saying that hockey left me. In that regard, I really had no real choice in the matter.
Besides the excitement around Hawks recently, there are other factors that are contributing to the current effects of hockey withdrawl that have been growing as of late. This past summer, I’ve been on the biggest health-kick in my life, which for those of you know me personally, is really my first health-kick ever. :) That led me to dig out my old rollerblades and get that wind-in-your-face feeling back via lunch time skates with co-workers and evening treks with Cindy on the forest preserves trails near our condo.
The feeling of being back on skates led me to checkout the outdoor, inline hockey rink near my office. Needless to say, it wasn’t much longer before I ditched my co-workers (sorry guys) and went from skating on the bike trails to shooting pucks again during the lunchtime hours. There were even pickup games with a great bunch of guys (albeit 10+ years my senior) that we had every Wednesday. It really felt good to be competitive again.
And now, to quote my younger brother (who’s sort of in the same boat as me), it’s time to !$@% or get off the pot. This is a family blog by the way (that is if bunnies count). Nevermind.
What I mean is, its time to get back out there and return to the ice and play some hockey. I was already planning to checkout one of the outdoor rinks in Sister Bay, WI during our next trip to Door County in two weeks. With the additional hype around the Hawks and the much anticipated Winter Classic at Wrigley Field come Jan. 1st, I think it’s only fitting that I want to target as much time skating outdoors as I possibly can this winter.
But why wait? I’ve already started hitting up the AHAI site for local rinks looking to rent ice, and could be out there shooting around within the next week or so. After that, there are also a few teams that some of my former teammates from high school play on in local adult leagues that are always short bodies, so that will likely be the next step. In fact, I wanted to be already be playing by now, and would have been if not for an out-of-the-blue bout of back spasms that I was battling for the last two weeks. Those are gone now, and knock on wood that they were just a one time occurrance.
By Christmas, there could be photos and video (yes, video) of my floating around the site here of me back on the ice and racking up points on the scoresheet, so you don’t want to miss it. Cindy, the converted hockey fanactic that she now is, did an amazing job of videotaping all of the hockey games of the high school team when I was coaching, so I’m sure she just couldn’t resist getting me on video. Besides, it’s been **gulp** 10 years since she saw me play my last game in my senior year in high school, so such a comeback would be nice to have as a keepsake (and possibly for insurance purposes). Just kidding, I’ll be fine.
And forget I mentioned the 10 year part, would you? Thanks.