Settle In, It’s The YEAR IN REVIEWShareThis
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.
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.
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.
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).
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….
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!