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Monday, January 28, 2013

Crossing The Line!

So, it's been a few weeks since my last blog post and to be honest for the first time in a while I was struggling to find the motivation to sit down and start putting anything together until last evening. I coach a team in the AESHL, the NorthEast Sr. Eagles and until I had begun coaching again I had been out of the game for several years and wasn't sure if I was interested in putting myself out there and getting back into it for a couple of different reasons.

The Manager of the team had approached me several times leading up to last season wondering if I would consider coming onboard and helping out with the club and every year it was the same response, no thanks! Last year their league was in a bit of trouble as the newly formed NLSHL was embarking on its inaugural season in NL so I finally gave in and said I'd drop up and help out with a few practices until they had the chance to get a coach in place. Well, that temporary help sooned turned into me getting back into the mix and the rest is history as I have now been behind the bench of the Eagles for the past 2 seasons and it has been a fabulous ride. I have found a passion for the game again that I once had lost and wasnt sure that I'd ever enjoy experiencing again but in thanks to the Eagles Organization and the players it has been a blast going to the rink again and being a part of the game once again.

If you ever have the chance to take in a game and especially the playoffs as they are fast approaching I would strongly urge you to try and get out. The passion and commitment that these young men demonstrate in unbelievable. They practice only once a week and we have almost a full crew of 25 players every practice and even had such a great base of players that we had to let go because of the numbers game and protected lists this season. They practice like they play and give everything they have night in and night out for no financial return whatsoever, they play for the LOVE of the game and believe me it shows.

Unfortuneately though, as fast as my passion for the game returned I am very quickly reminded that it can also be a game that when taken the wrong way can cause alot of hurt and pain both physically and mentally as was evident in our game last evening against our crosstown rivals. Now don't get me wrong, I am very passionate about the game and I coach the same way I played and that is with 100% of what I have game in and game out because I  believe that if your going to do something you should do it right and with leave nothing on the table at the end of the game. That all changed again last night and has left me questioning the game and everyone involved in it once again.

I witnessed 2 instances that made me sick to my stomach and to be honest I almost packed it all in and questioned as to whether it is all worth it. We have a young player on our team who is not only one of the best players on our team but in the whole league and is as stand up an individual as you will ever meet and is one of those kids that you just love to watch play. During a mixup at the end of the second period as always, the other team is trying to get him off of his game, well last night they succeeded and with no repercussions what so ever. I witnessed something that even through my 15 years leaving away have never witnessed. An opposing player in his attempt to rattle him stuck his fingers in our players mouth and literally tore his face apart at his lips and received a 2 minute minor even though this all occurred directly in front of the 3 officials with blood gushing everywhere. They had accomplished what they set out to do as he then had to leave the game to get his face sewn back together and then explain it to his employers the next day as to why he is in this state right now, is this what it is all about?

As I reacted to this with outrage as it was as plain as day to see I was repeatedly mocked by  the other organizations coaching staff over the issues that I have battled during my career and after. I have wrote about my battles and mental health issues for a few years now and have tried to be an advocate of the game and these issues that sometimes for one reason or another surface during players post careers as they make the adjustment from professional hockey player to the real world. I haven't asked for pity or sympathy through any of this because it was choices that I made during my life that lead to it but in saying that I definitely never asked or thought I would be taunted by grown men during a hockey game in front of fans and players about my battles with addictions and Mental Health issues which I have learned to live with and have actually made me a much better person for it.

Why then, you are probably asking yourself would I come out and write about this if it is something so personal and delicate as this, the reason is simple. These actions will go on with no consequences what so ever, there will be no discipline  taken against these cowards and ignorant men so I took it upon myself to put it out to let everyone know that ever finds themselves in a situation like this that it is not OK and to talk about it because if someone doesn't it will just continue to occur and probably push more players and volunteers away from this game as it has once again with me!

To all players and coaches and anyone else involved in this great game, it is just that, A GAME so please just take the time to use your heads for more than a hat rack next time you decide to condone such actions by your players and yourselves as it may not matter to you what I think or feel but to little Johnny sitting in the stands watching his favorite AESHL player and thinking we are the next closest thing to the NHL it does and your stupidity and ignorance could possibly deter the next great one from having the chance to experience this great game and all it has to offer!



1 comment:

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