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The Preseason Marathon



A little pre-season insight:

For players whose season is going to start in the ECHL, the preseason is longer than Islander fans tolerance for losing.  And slightly more like Chinese Water Torture.  With less pay.  You’re being evaluated  *drip* You’re being evaluated *drip* You’re being evaluated *drip*.

For them, it seems like it takes a lifetime to get to a meaningful game.  The NHL team invites all their guys under contract (plus hopefuls), while knowing the majority of them are going to play farther down the ladder.  They just want to check if their unpicked fruit has ripened.  A chunk of these guys at camp are on three-year NHL deals, and the team simply knows that they’re paying to have the guy in the last year of that contract, if at all.

Also, capable of doing an amazing "Herbert" from Family Guy

Also, capable of doing an amazing "Herbert" from Family Guy

{Tangent #1 - I wrote a column for Hockey Primetime about my thoughts on development here.  If I were an NHL GM, I’d leave the developing to someone else.}

{Tangent #2 - One of those three-year-contract guys that will pan out is Andrew Macdonald, Islanders defenseman.  Guy got so crazy good, so crazy quick in the ECHL it was scary.  Spent last year being great in the AHL.  Got NHL games.  Keep your eye on him, he’s a gifted player… and looks like Brooks Orpik.}

Those ECHL players will start the ride at rookie camp in June.  Then the main camp in September.  It’s a week to ten days of practices and exhibition games, being constantly evaluated at everything you do (including social interactions).    Then they’ll get sent to the AHL camp.  The same week to ten days happens there, albeit with less media pressure and less perks.  Then ECHL camp.  Subtract media and perks again.  Lather, rinse, repeat.

For those guys who do the three league countdown, they’ll show up at NHL camp around September 12th, and play their first game in the ECHL nearly a month later, around October 7th (then the kicker – you don’t get paid for three weeks.  By November, they’re near starvation.  If I was a part of a players union, guys would get paid something for training camp).

It’s a tough time of the year for those guys, and I feel their pain.  Nothing pummels the ego quite like getting cut twice to start the year.  Re-hashing that ride, I can’t help but notice how comfy this couch is…

{Tangent #3 - No preseason is as miserable as the college preseason.  Arrival: mid-August. First game: mid-October. Two months: takes two years.}


"What a sports nut, huh?"

I watched a special on the guy who holds the ball for the kicker in football (Usually the 14th string QB, no?).  He’s a Superbowl champion.  First guy to run out of the tunnel ahead of the team too.  And I quote: “I was so excited, there was no way anyone was beating me outta that tunnel”. 

…Hmm.  Yeah.  …Yeah, you proabably deserved that honour.

But after thinking about it, is there any job in sports that holds a less-appealing goat to hero ratio?  You know, as far as the potential to become one or the other goes?

Two percent chance of being a hero.  Tops.  Maybe a bad snap is corraled, and you get the ball down in time for the kick (which is rarely noticed anyways.  It’d have to be a real bad snap). 


For every time you save a play, there’s probably 650 ruined by flubbed snap catches and bad ball placement.  650 – 1 goat to hero ratio?  Laces out, Finkle.  

(*goat-to-hero figures may not be precise)


6 Responses to “The Preseason Marathon”
  1. zyllyx says:

    Kudos on your well-timed Ace Ventura reference!

  2. SDC says:

    The laces were in!

  3. Will77 says:

    Hadn’t thought about my college preseasons for a while until reading this, and just got a flashback to the high levels of suck-age that that was. Timed 6 mile runs (in MA, where I think every hill in the world is located during those runs) the last week of August with no games in sight? No thanks, I’ll take my cubical right now

  4. Lizzie says:

    Unrelated to this post, but I just caught part of the “Top 10 Power Forwards of the 80s” on the NHL Network, and I was way more excited to see Clark Gillies than I normally would be for a player I’m too young to remember. Because, “HEY! I read his future son-in-law’s blog!” It was a little bit embarrassing.

  5. SDC says:

    On a related note to the previously unrelated comment, Lizzie, check out this video before you get too caught up in Clark Gillies’ intimidation factor as a power forward:
    Clark’s an awesome guy.

  6. Scott says:

    A buddy of mine just sent me a link to your blog today. I’ve read through a few posting and really like it. You have a fresh point-of-view and an engaging writing style. Best of luck to you with the blog and all your future journlistic efforts.

    On a side note, I wanted to mention that when I was a kid growing up on Long Island in the late 70s early 80s, my dad used to have season tickets to the Islanders. My dad had played Div. I hockey at RPI in the early 60s, and he was trying to make a future college player of me. He spent every game making me pay close attention to how your dad skated. He made me study his body position and leg stride. He always said your dad had the greatest stride he’d ever seen. I’m 43 and playing in adult leagues in Los Angeles now, and every game I still have an image of your dad skating in my head. He was remarkable to watch.

    Best of luck with the marriage (and you thought hockey was a full-contact sport!).

    Scott Benton

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