Aside from, you know, my team being booted from last season’s playoffs by Montreal in the first round (and yes, it still really, really hurts) the NHL off-season does provide me with a great bit of relief. Not as much relief as a hockey wife might get, but enough to give my poor brain a rest. First off, I forget to blog and I don’t feel guilty about it. Second, no fantasy leagues to set. Third, fewer arguments with my Pens friends over Crosby vs. Ovechkin or whether Mike Green has gone soft. Marginally related, Mike Green’s hair can’t distract me from post-game interviews because seriously, what the hell is going on there?
But mostly it’s because I spend half the year attempting to analyze statistics, justifying my opinions on Twitter, trying to score tickets to games, pissing off my husband because, “We’re playing EDMONTON–can we please watch something else tonight? EDMONTON IS NOT A REAL TEAM!” and on and on, for six months or so. When I signed up for a kickball league this fall, I made a note of how many Capitals games I would miss. I wasn’t going to not join for that reason, but the fact that it even popped into my mind is a bad sign. You can have too much hockey guys. Especially if you are in anyway interested in having a life. The life of a hockey fan is a hard life indeed.
I took the off season literally: I took it off. I didn’t read many blogs, I paid only peripheral attention to trades, new signings, and contact extensions. I went to the beach, had a few cookouts, took a road trip through California, joined a gym, read a book, and caught up on the 25 movies or so that I planned to see but never did. What did I do on my summer vacation? Just about everything, except hockey. And it felt AWESOME.
The regular NHL season hockey starts next week and much like that last week of summer break before you start college, it’s both an exciting and unnerving time. I should make sure my jersey is clean because it was likely covered in beer and thrown under something back in April. Check my fantasy teams and curse myself for auto-drafting for two of them. Make a cheat sheet of all the roster changes that I glossed over in favor of sleeping or (gasp) working. And I should re-teach myself last name pronunciations: Byfuglien, Pääjärvi-Svensson, Ponikarovsky, Pikkarainen…and DO NOT act like it’s sooo easy because you’ve gotten drunk and accidentally pronounced Patrick Roy’s last name phonetically and not all French-Canadiany and then had Rink Rebel totally make fun of you. I blame the internet for this, actually. When you get 90% of your hockey news via blogs, you start making up pronunciations yourself which is how Dustin Byfuglien became Dustin By-fluke-an. You see how stressful that can be?
I will tell you one thing, however: None of the above will matter when all 30 teams hit the ice next week. As much as the hockey season can warp your brain and annoy all those around you, it’s HOCKEY. And if you’re reading this, you totally get what that means. So, let’s raise a hockey-sized, plastic cup of cheap beer to another season. Let’s start the countdown.
In hockey solidarity,