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Settle In, It’s The YEAR IN REVIEW

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In all my Chad Brownlee-related excitement last Friday, I forgot to do my year in review.  It’s been, to be less-than-tactful, a fucking roller coaster.  Settle in for the ride, if you dare.

*****

26 was my “grocery stick year”.  …For those of you who don’t know, “grocery stick” is one of my all-time favourite hockey terms.

Most satisfying moment of my life: google imaged "grocery stick" and teammate from last year came up. No one more deserving than Sparre!

Most satisfying moment of my life: "Google imaged" "grocery stick" and a teammate from last year came up. No one more deserving than Kris Sparre!

When you make a line change in hockey, you generally come in the bench through the gate, and the next line jumps the boards from the middle.  As the tired guys are coming off, everyone schooches towards the middle and waits for coach to call the next line by the center’s last name.

What this all means, is that if a coach doesn’t want to play a particular line or guy (it usually ends up being just one guy for a bunch of reasons), he scooches down to where the defenseman are, then never gets called.  Hence, he divides the forwards and D for the whole period like a grocery stick dividing items on the little converyor belt.  “I turned it over a few times in the first, so I was the grocery stick for the next couple periods.”

And that metaphor describes my last year perfectly.  That being because everything up til 26, like, until that exact day, was based around my life as a hockey player.  I spent the entirety of the past year making the transition from player to whatever-the-hell-you-call-what-I-do-now.  And fittingly, in the week surrounding my 27th birthday, I have a couple interesting/neat businessy things in the works.  Stay tuned.

So without further ado, the review.  Welcome to a year in the life of a hockey player gone wrong.

*****

December 10th, 2008: After a month off with a torn MCL (the first injury that caused me to miss games in almost a dozen years), I find out I’m cleared to play and the team will be taking me on the road trip to Alaska, my old college stomping grounds.  Only slightly tainting my excitment is the fact that the ice sheet up there is the size of Glacier Bay, I haven’t skated in four score and seven years, and the trip is in December.  In Alaska.  Yeah.

December 12th, 2008:  Details and drama aside, a puck spiderwebs my jaw on the right side and breaks it clean down the middle of my chin in the front.  They wire my jaw shut, put a ten-screw plate on the right side and an X-plate in my chin.  I instantly decide to be a writer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

December 14th: Around 4:00 a.m. a group of still-drunk teammates piles into the shuttle with me to the airport, where we head back to Boise, and I start to recover.  By sheer luck, Brianna had booked a flight from NY to come see me starting that day for the week.  In a shocking turn of events, I don’t turn out to be a good host that week.

December 20th: Bri and I fly to Kelowna, BC, for Christmas.  Our layover is in Seattle.  Upon arrival, we learn I’ve forgotten my passport (see: prescription drugs).  She carries on at my intense urgings, as flights are scarce and the weather is bad, while I wait for my passport to be sent on the next flight out.  The airport closes due to weather before it arrives.  I spend 44 hours with my jaw wired shut on the airport floor, existing by buying clam chowder and having them blend it in the airport bar’s margarita blender so I can slurp it through my teeth.  I take lots and lots of painkiller.

December 27th:  Jaw swells.  Infection.  An ugly “don’t describe that here” incident occurs at the emergency room where they try to right my sinking ship.  They schedule more surgery to remove infected parts.  I schedule more bitterness for the guy who shot the puck.  Also, I try really hard not to puke, AKA choke myself and die.

 

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

Early January:  I endure surgery two of three to remove the problem parts in the jaw, one of which just happens to be bone.  At some point, I’m so hopped up on painkillers I tell the receptionist that our coach is an asshole, but his wife is hot.  Bri politely escorts me home.

January 17th:  A text and an email from my uncle encourage me to check out two blog sites, “WordPress” and “Blogger”.  I choose WordPress, and make my first entry.  The highlights are almost titling the blog “Hermit the Blog” (cause I never left my house) and my mention of discovering Chinese stress balls, followed by “I’ll keep the blog above ball-fondling jokes.  Curses, too late.”

January 22nd:  I write my first good column, a tribute to my team captain the year before, Travis Rycroft, which gets three comments. This tricks people into thinking I have a future in writing.  Somewhere around here I have another surgery, and my wires come off (just under seven weeks in wires, all said and done).  I chew some perogie filling, and it tastes like baby angels.

Rycroft retirement video:

 ’

 February: I continue to spend the majority of my time watching documentaries and stand up comedy, while writing about whatever the hell I want.  Turns out I like writing.  Turns out I like animals.  Check out this entry for pictures of all things “awwww”.

Mid-February:  Somewhere around here I trick The Hockey News into letting me write for them.  Y’know, for free.  My readership occassionally skyrockets from the usual 40 visits a day to 100, thanks to that break.  I tap out on playing hockey for the year after the team’s oral surgeon says I’m “cleared for contact” while the dentist who x-rayed my chin says the bone is “still three millimetres away from making contact”.

Late February:  Having spent two months indoors staring at this glowing rectangle, Bri and I spend a week in Phoenix at the place my parents just bought so I can regain some semblance of sanity.  Hmm, we like it there.   Hell, we don’t wanna leave.

 

 

 phoenix golf

 

March: I spend a bunch of time in New York in the next little bit, and fully fall in love with it.  I fall in love with stuff the locals hate – the Long Island Railroad, the fat “Brodeur-ey” pigeons, and the people you bump that say “ay, yo, git the fuck outta heah”.  Oh, and the pizza.  It’s a great place to be, but not the right place to start as a broke, struggling “writer”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What it is right for, is connections.  Between my family, my fiance’s family, and my uncle (St. John’s grad, Stan Fischler intern and sportwriter), I’m mafia-style hooked up in hockey.  I meet some great hockey people kickin’ around the city, and decide I want to stick with the dumb sport.

April/May/June: I buy a ring, attend the Clark Gillies Invitational, get fully into organizing the Hockey Greats Fantasy Camp, get a job at Hockey Primetime.com, do some radio work, meet with Sports Illustrated, meet with NHL.com, write my “Hockey Players Life” series for Max Hockey, and ask Clark for his daughters hand around 9:00 a.m, half corked on Bacardi/OJ, while he drives a golf cart and I stand on the back of it.  I also interview with the Phoenix Coyotes marketing department in the midst of the “will they move?” chaos.  “Chaos”, by the way, is an apt way to describe my life for these months.

 
 

Shiny, significant finger circle

Truth is, its the size of a grapefruit, but her hands are HUGE.

  

June 25th: I take Bri up to between the two houses we grew up in on a “pictures for the blog” guise, and put my leash around her finger for the first time.  Hearts break worldwide.

July: Crunch time for the Fantasy Camp, so I spend it in Kelowna planning that and playing golf.  As a sidenote, one spot in this years camp is going towards a strictly ”Bourne’s Blog raffle” — the cost of the raffle ticket will go to A) cover the spot and B) Any extra will go to Canadian Spinal Cord Research (don’t worry, if we figure out spine stuff up there you’ll benefit too). 

Still rockin 1 - 2

Still rockin 1 - 2

 August:  We run the Fantasy Camp, or as multiple guests called it “the best week of their lives”.  I get a job at USA Today.  Bri and I move to Phoenix, where everything I’ve ever done boils down to “make money through your computer, and pay bills”.  It’s 115 degrees of awesome, and it never occurs to me that I’m officially closer to Mexico than the NHL. 

September/October/November: Why are the names of the later months so long?  I cover the ’Yotes home opener for NHL.com, and weird doors start to open.  The straight community beats the gay community to hating me, I do more radio, I attempt video blogging, I drive an RV for money, I write real estate copy, and I wait for two openings in….

Tyson Davidson Meowsercat Bourne

Tyson Davidson Meowsercat Bourne

December! While I continue my march towards certain obesity, there are two very exciting career opportunities I’m a part of that are pending.  And I can’t divulge just what until they develop further.  THEN you’ll hear about them.

December 12th, 2009:  I have the compete opposite birthday from a year prior.  I’m in Phoenix, where it’s 60 degrees warmer.  My jaw doesn’t break.  I’m engaged. Instead of nutrients-by-IV,  I eat Ahi tuna and drink some beer and some vodka.  I go to a dueling piano bar.  I dance (as all my guy friends go, “you did whaaaaAA?”)  I eat an  In ‘n’ Out burger that’s the size of my new kitten.  Only one thing was the same – just like the year before, I don’t remember the moment I first lost consciousness.

And here I am today.  To all of you, thanks for being a part of the ride.

In the most sincere, honest voice I can muster, support from readers  justifies what I do.  Ideally, I’d sell enough advertising to make my blog my sole source of income so I could rock it out all-day every-day.  But until I get THAT level of readership, I’ll keep grinding the good grind.  Thanks for being one of the roughly 20,000 people that stops by “Bourne’s Blog” every month, and thanks to Hockey Primetime for building and hosting the site!

 - jb

 

Comments

30 Responses to “Settle In, It’s The YEAR IN REVIEW”
  1. Sherry says:

    Here’s to the next year being even better than the last!! Give yourself, Bri and Tyson a holiday hug from me.

  2. garett says:

    great job J-Bo..keep it up..i def remember that brutal night in alaska..ouch..wezzy has a hard shot..but i do not remember getting on the plane thanks to pranksters mr hay and flichel and of course the F-street tavern jokester Andi who thought it would b funny to spike my delicious Alaskan Ambers with vodka!! ouch..And i for sure remember you forgetting your passport over the holidays..we all felt so bad for you(we had a little chuckle of course..hockey thing)..anyway congrats on all the success buddy
    bemmer

  3. jtbourne says:

    Thanks Bemmer – the comment means a lot dude. I hated you miserable f**ks that morning. And agreed, Wezzy has an absolute bomb of a slapshot. Hope all is well with you dude, let’s catch up soon.

  4. zyllyx says:

    God, that picture of you with the jaw infection recalls my own jaw surgery when I was 19. Honestly, there’s nothing like accidentally rolling over in your sleep a week after surgery and waking up with a pillowcase full of blood and pus. Good times, good times…

    Oh, and we’re very happy that you like it here in Arizona. Here’s hoping Ice Edge gives you a callback on your resume.

  5. Deirdre says:

    Awesome…and OW…and awesome…and you’re welcome…and Thank You! I love reading, and think it’s fantastic that you’ve got 19,999 more of me out there somewhere.

    Have a fantastic holiday!

  6. angus says:

    Since stumbling upon the blog a few months ago, I have immensely enjoyed it and it is a staple of my early morning drink-coffee-and-browse-the-internet routine. Hopefully the viewership continues to grow!

  7. garett says:

    sounds good bud..ps that pic of sparrzy will cause me nightmares tonight!!!

  8. ms.conduct says:

    I laughed, I cried. Awesome post, Mr. B! Indeed what a year. It’s been a true pleasure getting to know you and your work. You contribute something to the universe of hockey writing that nobody else does and I can’t WAIT to hear what you have up your sleeve next. All the good things coming to you are well deserved.

    I’m now going to go overuse the term “grocery stick” so much that my colleagues on press row are going to beat me to death with one at the first opportunity.

  9. Officer Koharski says:

    Great read dude, that was quite a year. Those pictures of your jaw are fucking CRAZY, I can’t understand how that much swelling is even possible. You must have had like 8 ounces of infection in there. It reminds me of when I sprained my ankle really badly, my foot swelled up so much I had a jiggly bubble right above my toes. Hard to believe so much fluid can build up under the skin like that without just going pop.

    Come back to New York some time, I’ll buy you a Bud Light Lime with an umbrella and salt on the rim. And maybe we can get the guy to squirt some Grenadine in there for you.

  10. Kate B says:

    Continuing to enjoy – gratz on a great year (except possibly that first part), and best wishes for better and more in 2010.

  11. Char says:

    Aw, sweetheart… ooops.

    Glad you joined the writing world, even if it was via an interesting route. ;-)

  12. AiH says:

    I stopped reading after “Settle in for the ride, if you dare.” I’m not much of a risk taker and I took that “dare” as a formal warning. Anyhoo, congrats on the year of transformation! Loved the “leash on her finger” line. Oh shit, maybe I did keep on reading past “. . . if you dare.” You win this round Mr. Bourne, you always do and I hope you continue to trick me into reading your work for many years to come.

    Cheers.

    Oh ya, and death to your fantasy hockey squad.

  13. Neil says:

    It’s been fun watching your blog and writing career explode and your entries get better every month. Keep it up and good luck in the New Year buddy!

  14. JD says:

    Congrats on the successful year in writing JB. It’s been great to have a site to check out every day that I know will provide some entertainment and/or good discussion in the comments. It’s been cool you follow your meteoric rise (too much?) up the sports journalism ranks since I first started reading back in the spring. Here’s hoping you keep it going….

  15. St. Cloud Gopher says:

    First of all, congrats.
    Now that that is out of the way a few things:
    - How annoying/depressing would it be if somebody started playing hockey one day, and they turned out to be so much better than you with no history of meaningful practice? That is how I feel about your writing and my own supposed ability. Again, congrats. (But, .479 is not going to get you into the fantasy playoffs. My .554 might.)
    - I don’t remember when I discovered your blog, maybe your technology could tell me. Can it tell me what I had for breakfast that day too? Anyway, it has become the second blog (and second site period) for me to check in the morning. And afternoon. And evening. And many times in between as I patiently wait for you to update. And I still check about six or seven times every Saturday AND Sunday though you rarely post on the weekends. (By the way, Joe Posnanski is the other blogger. Best sports writer in the world. Hands down.)
    - When you get your job writing for some big time mag, or putting your rebuilt jaw to use on TV, remember to keep hitting us with kittens (hate ‘em, but still show everyone I know) and inside jokes that make us like Seawolves more than anyone should.
    Thanks for the past year. Good luck on this one. And, once more time, congratulations.

  16. Alix in SJ says:

    And thank you for writing. I love your blog, it’s one of the few I visit every day looking for an update. :) Congrats on your new life!

  17. Megan says:

    What a year! Thank you for entertaining me while at school/work. I hope the new opportunities work out for you. Hope you, Bri, and your family have a great holiday and a great 2010!

  18. PVeltkamp says:

    Hell of a year JB.
    Keep up the good work, I am one of many people it sounds that enjoys browsing your work daily. Refreshing to read someones opinion that is always negative, like people like Adam Proteau and Ken Campbell.

    I also didn’t forget about our bet so we need to get that taken care of too!!
    cheers!

  19. PVeltkamp says:

    correction that should say is NOT always negative!

    OOPS!

  20. Ashleytheclimber says:

    Congrats on the last year Justin!!!

    Your blog is required reading for me at work, thanks to caches on my iPod’s RSS feeds. Many entries have been passed along to my rock climbing partners, none of whom are hockey fans, but they always enjoy a good story.

    Happy belated b-day!! Hope you and your family have great holiday!!

    Here’s to next year being even better!!!!

    Ashley

  21. GBCK says:

    BBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBB.bomb, (Maybe 4 people get that, 5 including you)

    Can’t believe its been a year since the incident. I noticed my visit to Boise while your jaw was wired shut wasn’t significant enough to earn a date stamp in bold but whatev. Anyway, the last thing I ever thought you would become is a writer. Not that you weren’t the best at procrastinating an 8 page paper until the morning it was due and would write it while I showered and before we left to class because instead of writing it the night before we went to the bar, but because you used to procrastinate an 8 page paper till the morning it was due and write it while I showered and before we left to class because we went to the bar. Yeah, yeah, I get it, now you get to write about what you want to write about.

    Lets get down to the nuts and bolts of this thing though, I’m excited for you. Not because you have the blog and the USA today and a lot of followers and yada yada, but because you are what sports writing/broadcasting has been missing for years and is just starting to wake up to, someone that has experience in the game that they write/commentate on and the mental capacity to deliver it with humor. I’m sick of the Rome, Cornhieser, Wilbon, Miller, and any other big-time television or print personalities who have never played a professional sport and have somehow become an expert in the eyes of millions because of an ability to make it to the top in media. The only difference between these guys and any other armchair quarterback is the camera and mic.

    For years we’ve been listening to what I call the ” husband in the delivery room” analysis of an event when maybe just maybe Mom that delivered the baby has a bit more insight. Sure the husband can make plenty of valid points that the average Joe could agree with or accept as truth but in a world of sports where the main goal is to “get inside the game” I think the best way to do that is to listen to those that have — wait for it — been inside the game. Now, add in the humor and I think you have all the makings of what’s to come. That’s why i’m excited for you, you’re the future of this whole thing and this whole thing is BIG!!! Happy 1 year bro, you’ve been inspirational

  22. Matt says:

    Thanks to you for writing my favorite blog on the net.

    I must say, that is one very crazy year.

  23. P. D. says:

    JTB. Just wanted to say congrats on everything with the blog, tricking Breezy into marrying you, and a big boy phone upgrade to the Berry (even though you can’t figure out the lock function and butt dial me about twice monthly). Also my mother and father would like to thank you for giving them a new read on this crazy internet thing. My mom reads it all the time and makes her day, but she is too afraid to write in and say it herself. If possible give a shout out to my mom (Connie)! You are doing big things man! Proud to have known you when you were a poor college kid with a questionable taste in music.

    Your Hip Hop Guru and best Eg. Mgr. you’ve ever have,
    PD

  24. jenny again says:

    GROCERY STICK. that is brilliant. hockey is the best for inane slang terms that just FIT.

    been reading here for a few months now and my level of joy over your insider perspective – crisply & hilariously delivered – continues to grow exponentially. thanks for being my favorite part of my coffee-and-internet morning routine!

    here’s to next year’s recap having less 100% less broken jaw.

  25. Vanegenov says:

    Great read JT, it’s great to hear your story. What a year, keep the good stuff going man. I went to school for this writing thing but I your stuff is much more engaging than mine! Grocery stick? Classic.

  26. jtbourne says:

    Damn, Char, that may well been the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me. I’ll take, and won’t even slather my response in sarcasm, out of courtesy. Really appreciate it.

  27. Beer:30 says:

    Congratz on the year. I gotta admit I was a bit concerned if you were going to be able to lead a normal life after you were taken off the ice. Glad things are going well for you. Best wishes on the next year from someone who appreciates your work.

  28. Travelchic59 says:

    I found your blog through Chris Botta’s Pointblank Blog. I can’t believe it’s been a year already. Man, does time fly. Where the hell did the year go?!! You’re a great read and l check back at least once a day for updates. Good luck with the future un-named endeavor. I am sure it will come to fruition. Happy Holidays to you, Bri and your families.

  29. Andrea says:

    I found your blog through Adrian Denny. I loved watching you play for Utah, and was sad to see you go. But now i get to read your thoughts, and no one does funny like hockey players! Congrats on your continued success, and happy birthday, from one 12/12 baby to another.

  30. CatTrick says:

    Thanks, Justin. Now, every time I go to the grocery store and get to the check-out line, I crack up!!!

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