Monday, September 6, 2010

Twisted Hockey 2010

Summer comes to a close, by popular belief, today here in America. But scientifically it doesn’t end for a couple more weeks. It’s been a fortunate summer for me but not necessarily sweet. Last year at this time I was unemployed however this year I’ve had only three days off since the beginning of summer.

Not all good.

Late July the company I was contracting for let me go, but the next day my subcontractor hired me to continue running the project. The same shit goes on in the NHL I’m sure. Pro scout today and assistant coach for the farm team tomorrow. Keeps ya busy but pay cuts chase these moves. Wish I was an “in demand” player that could negotiate the big bucks.

Yeah, those days are past for this little old crooked puckster. Shoot! I was working with some beginners last year but I haven’t even been on the ice for a few months now. It’s not even all the work but maybe effects of the work – or maybe the last time on the ice. Who knows what causes this crap. I’m pretty sure that I’ve got a torn rotator cuff in both shoulders. The right shoulder, that I tore first, is probably from picking up the engine for my 1957 Fiat 600 (yeah that was more than a year ago but the sucker still hurts) and the left shoulder was fine until after my last skate with the kids.

Is it the cause?

Hell I don’t know but the timing lines up.

Let me relate:

I was skating with the kid’s practice and I took a couple of the kids (a boy and a girl) down to the far end of the ice. They couldn’t keep up with the drills. So I had them passing to each other and I’d chase the puck for them.

No problem.

As the net at this end was good and empty, the father of one of the other kids skated down and started taking slap shots. They weren’t quite as a swift as those of some of my NHL heroes but they had a little more oomph than my shots. He skated by after a couple of shots and said that I had to try his stick – a composite. He said that he waits until the sticks are at the end of production and just a few are left in stock; buying them for about half price. Now that’s a deal if you look at the list price these days. Dang near amounts to a days worth of take home pay to cover leaving a skate shop with one of these babies . Ehh?

So I borrow his stick for a few shots. Kinda hurt that he didn’t want to use my old wooden Sher-Wood P.M.P. 5030 SC, Bellows model (you know you guys it’s been a while since I had my hands on a Coffey “curve” model). Yeah it hurt, cuz I always figure that I’m walking with wood and this dad aint. Wassup widat? But I ding a few and it feels like the old days where I could pick a top corner from the blue line.

But later that evening my friggin left shoulder is killing me.

Was it the composite?

Or was it work?

Sheesh! Who knows.

Now some of you puck heads know that I teach a bit of college for an Illinois university. One class that I taught over the summer included subject matter on the manufacturing and processing of composite products. So, I, of course had to talk to the students about the design of hockey sticks both wood (definitely) and composites (reluctantly) and the relationship to consistent results from well designed composites used by pros today. I also included some minor diversions to aluminum shaft sticks – yahdy, yahdy, yahdy.

Maybe I should be a stick designer????

I’d really like to not be in pain and have enough time to get back on the ice with these little youngsters. It is so rewarding to see these kids not give up on our sport and to actually show improvement.

I’ve helped some of their families out financially by recycling equipment through my connections. As we all know, hockey ain’t cheap. Whatever I can do I do.

Back in the day I bought gear for Jingles and Bronzy to keep them in the game. I’d like to think I’m still doing the same thing to promote our great sport.

In February I bought a whole bunch of new youth sticks that I planned to distribute this year. Through a buddy I got these at wholesale price. Really a great deal and it didn’t set me back too bad. Nice little sticks from Bauer with your typical Nike logo (are these guys into everything now?)

But here’s the bitch of the deal: The pretty little sticks got recalled (March 18, 2010 by Health Canada and April 1, 2010 by US Consumer Product Safety Division – release #10-189). The lead in the undercoat paint and decals on these sticks exceeds the limits for children here in the US and Canada.

Nuts, what do they figure? Are the kids going to eat these sticks or something? Oh yeah, high stick to the choppers and your eating my paint boy. Not going to happen. All these kids wear face cages any more until they’re eighteen or something. Right?

What’s wrong with a little lead? It was in almost all light colored paints when I was kid. And I turned out ok, didn’t I?

Well, some may disagree but that’s beside the point.

Umm …. disagree about the problem with lead paint or disagree with my well being and sanity?

Ha, ha, ha!

I ate the damn sticks. I mean I ate the costs because I had to trash them because the return costs would have been almost as much as my purchase price. What a waste. Huh?

I just didn’t feel right in giving them away.

Maybe there was a “midget” league I could have given them to. You know, guys that are shorter than me – not a lot shorter but shorter by golly. I looked for such a league but had no luck. The sticks would have been ok for adult midgets since the recall was based on exceeding lead limits for kids. To be so lucky.

Twisted summer. Twisted hockey.

My father in law passed away this summer too.

That kinda sucked. Great guy – the father of my honey. If he had played hockey in his youth I bet he would have had the skills of the Pocket Rocket. Same build, same intensity in all that he did. He’s missed so badly. God bless Jack’s soul.

Then there’s the Blackhawks, Stanley Cup winners. Is half their team traded away already? Salary caps be damned! Can they even make a show of it this coming season? We’ll see, we’ll see.

And Stevie leaving behind his Michigan heritage to join a Florida organization. Kudos to the south, ehh!

And damned if Mr. Chris Chelios didn’t finally hang them up. My hero of heroes. What am I going to do now for Pete’s sake? I was hoping that the dude would at least skate until he was my age or at best until he reached legal retirement age and could draw social security benefits. Detroit gets him for some sort of youth development dude. What a contrast ehh? Well he walks with wood until the day he dies and the “kids” better appreciate that.

My bud, Jamie, summed up the whole situation with foolishness on facebook, “Sad day today. Chris Chelios retired. My dream is probably dead. He was the only player in the NHL that is older than me. The NHL scouts will probably stop coming to my men's league games.”

Yupper! Twisted summer. Twisted hockey.

What’s your story?

Season’s almost here, so skate hard and walk with wood.