Monday, 28 March 2011

The Lighter Side

Hello everyone, firstly I would just like to thank everyone for the great feedback I got from my previous entry "The Dream." For those of you who took a few minutes of your time to read it then send me emails, I read everyone of them and really appreciate your stories too!

Ok, so what have I been doing at the start of this off season?  Well I am going to change things up today and not talk about hockey at all. Usually I am giving details on a previous game or talking about how bad some of the rinks are in France or pouring out an emotional blog about how much I love being a hockey player....Here I go again talking about hockey......Stop!

Ok, today I am going to write about what I did this weekend

Alright, so Friday morning I woke up and the first thing I did was check to see the Habs got destroyed by the Bruins 7-0, very upsetting news....  Look how pathetic I am, I can't avoid hockey, it is my driving force, I have no control over what I am typing....

Right, ok so Friday night my lovely French girlfriend Marion and I went to see a few of her cousins in Mulhouse about 85km away, but this includes many little towns and lots of 50km/hour speed limits, so it took a little while to get there.  Once we arrived, we were greeted with the standard kiss on each cheek.  I threw out a right hand for a manly handshake but was told in French "We are not gay, you are family." Ok so kiss away!  After the uncomfortable arrival, I was given a beer and quickly felt more relaxed :)   We had a great night, we made Flammenkuche which is a specialty from the Alsace region where we were and resembles a pizza but with no tomoato sauce and made on a wrap. The key ingredients were the cream and the onions ;)   After eating a few of those, the night was winding down and I stayed up with Marion's two cousins Philippe and Renaud to taste some of his Armagnac, which is a type of Brandy from the Southwest of France and distilled from wine and aged in oak barrels.

That lasted until close to 5am.  Then we woke up to fresh croissants and baguettes. The North American inside me was craving bacon and eggs but "when in Rome" right?

The next night we had a costume party for Marion's friend Marie.  This had been planned for over a month now and Marion was putting the pressure on me to get my act together and come up with a costume.  She was an 80s aerobics instructor and I was Elvis.

We both had a great time this weekend and taking advantage of it now is key because during the season and even late in the off season, this abuse on my body can't be the best LOL!  I forgot how much I love Pringles though.

I hope everyone likes the picture of Marion and I, out of the 25 people there, we were easily in the top 5 best costumes, but that's what years of celebrating Halloween in North American does for you!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

The Dream

A few weeks ago my dad sent me an email titled "The Dream."  At first I was not sure what it was but as soon as I opened the attached picture it was clear.  I had not seen these drawing in so long and had basically forgotten about it....

In my father's office at the University of Windsor, hangs a framed drawing I did back in around 1993, the same year the Canadiens won the cup!  Back then, I was very much into drawing hockey players, especially goalies.  I would always start with either their mask or their blocker and go from there.  But one day in front of Hockey Night in Canada I drew something different.

What I drew was actually a description of what I did every night; I would dream I was a Pro hockey player, scoring goals, winning championships etc...

I think every young kid who has a passion for hockey dreams of being a professional hockey player at some point in their life and for me it was no different.  Growing up with an older brother playing travel hockey and a father who worshiped Maurice Rocket Richard, it was from about the age of 3 that I wanted to be a hockey player for a living. It just seemed like the perfect job, so from that point on I dreamt of just playing hockey. It wasn't that I wanted to avoid working in the real world from 9-5, it was just that I loved hockey and that is all I wanted to do.

Over the years that followed, nobody would have predicted that I would be earning my living as a professional hockey player, not even my brothers, especially my brothers hahaha.  The fact is, I was not very good. Though the year I drew that picture I was actually voted "Most Exciting Player" for my league. What league you ask?   Tier II house league in Windsor.

I was cut from AAA (obviously), then cut from A, then assigned to a team in Teir I house league.  I played 1 game and was then cut from that and dropped down to the lowest possible level for my age, anything lower I would have been playing in a  road hockey league.  But I did win "most exciting."  :)

So to fast track, I finally made a travel team, then got a bit better, I made a junior hockey team, was drafted to the OHL in the14th round, 293rd overall (at least I was drafted right?)  Then I played up and down with Jr. B and the OHL, until settling in at the University of British Columbia for 4 years. Faced with many different challenges, my dream was still clear.

Seeing this drawing now is pretty cool. It is like I could see the future back then around the age of 11. Wearing the number 88 in the drawing was most likely for Eric Lindros, my favourite player at the time. Though some may contest that I wore number 88 because unconsciously I knew that I would be playing Pro Hockey in Epinal, France where the city postal code is 88 000 or perhaps it is because my French girlfriend who is from Epinal was born in '88???

This is my 4th season in France and my 3rd in Epinal.  The French league is nowhere close to the NHL but it is a good league in Europe and just perfect for me.  The feeling really sets in when I am asked what I do for a living....Occupation: Pro Hockey Player!
That is just how I envisioned things as a young boy in Windsor, Ontario watching Hockey Night in Canada.

The dream lives on....

Monday, 7 March 2011

Season is over, now what/where?

Well, another season has come and gone, this one was probably one to forget, at least on a personal note.  With the complications after the operation this summer, I did not start playing until late November, and for the next two months I was playing on 1 leg.  It was a tough season but I wanted to contribute in whatever way I could and though I was not at 100% until the end of January, it was still important to be out there with the guys to battle each night.

With the playoff format for the first round best of 3 series starting on the road for the higher seeded team, it does not really give you that "home ice advantage" that you get in the second round (first 2 games at home).  So we started off in Strasbourg and lost the first game 4-1, then came home for games Friday and Saturday.  After trailing 2-0 with 10 minutes remaining in the 3rd period of Friday's game, we made a dramatic comeback to win 3-2 with just over a minute left to play.

The same could not be said for Saturday night, where we quickly went down 2 goals in the first period. Then with 2 minutes left in the first period, the referees decided to stop the game to repair a hole in the ice.  Flash back a few weeks ago, our game was canceled before the 3rd period due to a huge hole in the ice, and it was replayed in the Alpes.  After sitting in the dressing room for almost two hours, we were told that we would be continuing the game.  We started around 10:30pm and the game ended around midnight with a 2-0 loss.

There were not too many scoring chances after starting up the game again, most guys were hungry and mentally shut off after the near two hour delay.

Now that we are done, it is time to think about next season.  What kind of adventure will I be embarking on for 2011-2012?

I wanted to give an update and next time I will recap my return to Briancon for our last regular season game.