Woke up this morning, like I do most every morning...tired and focusing on how I am going to spend my day.
A meeting here, get that important proposal to my client there, lunch with the boss, pick up the kids at this time, make dinner after that, maybe a drink with the boys later if I get the time.
As I threw my down comforter off my bed however, a particular and familiar chill ran through my skin that, for a brief and magnificent second, made me forget all of that mess.
A cold front had apparently moved into my area overnight signaling to my brain that summer is long since gone. I took a deep breath in shutter of the chill, but the smell of winter flooded my nostrils through the open window like a thousand little icicles scraping my pores.
In the flash of that very instant, memory of my boyhood days came flooding back.
Up before sunrise, strapping on a pair of back up skates and going scurrying down to the pond where I could meet my buddies for a quick game of puck before school. That smell, that chill, it signaled one thing to my brain; Hockey season.
Anyone that has ever played this game, become an avid fan, or knows the culture realizes one thing; hockey is not just a sport like all the others. Hockey is a lifestyle.
In my younger days, this lifestyle brought me to; Exploring rinks all across two nations. Had me adding a “Y” to all my boys names. Meeting my wife at a game. Breaking bones, losing teeth, gaining scars. Building work habits, lifelong friends, and a wicked mullet. Developed an unbreakable friendship with my father as we road tripped from rink to rink. Taught me how to stand up for myself, never put down your teammates, lead a group of men into battle, and that Canadian beer is always just a few degrees colder on your lips.
This morning’s little chill brought back all of that, but just as quick as it came, it disappeared as reality set in.
You see, in my younger years I could live this lifestyle personally. I didn’t rely on other providing it for me. It was me participating in the sport and there wasn’t a CBA that could stop me. In my latter years however, I have been reduced to a spectator, pouring my addiction to this crazy lifestyle into watching and cheering on the greatest the world had to offer in one place; The NHL.
As work fades from my mind after a long day at the office, I would pop on a fire, open a cold beer, sit in my favorite leather recliner and watch the spectacle of my lifestyle once lived, brought back to me on my TV. I could connect with the stories of Sydney Crosby shooting pucks in his basement for hours. I believe in the brotherhood of the Staal brothers growing up playing against each other. The commitment to friendship brought out by Suter and Parise going to Minnesota. And of course, rooting for my Blues, like my father does, and his did before him.
But where that lifestyle was, a void now stands. A void that cannot be filled today, nor can it be in 3 days when the regular season was supposed to start.
Sure I can watch the highlights from the KHL, but that isn’t the same. That is not home to me.
With one chill today, I woke up and realized that I truly missed the NHL. I hope that everything on the money side can be figured out soon, so that the lifestyle side, the side that truly matters, can be brought back.