Countdown to September 29th: 26 days
Anyway… It’s currently 4AM, so I’ve got some time here. So… How about that lockout? I’ve got a bad feeling about it – kind of. My day today was very reminiscent of 2004-05, or as the more hardcore fans know it, The Year of the AHL. The Curse of Grand Rapids returned today when my precious foster car, Paul Kariya, got his first flat tire. I know, I know – It’s obviously NOT the Curse of Grand Rapids, as it had nothing to do with the Griffins OR hockey, but it still reminded me of it.
During the last lockout, my first born vehicle, Boysie (Brad Boyes is the father), got a flat after some a-hole slammed into us the morning after a Milwaukee Admirals game at Van Andel Arena. Months later the same thing would happen again, except this time the tire simply imploded while driving to yet another Griffins/Ads tilt in Michigan. Luckily, punctuality is one of my strongest virtues. My mother always said that people who are late think they are the centre of the universe, and more important than the people waiting for them, so I have always made a point to NEVER be late for anything. And because of this virtue, I didn’t miss a second of the action in that game that night, even after getting pulled over within 10 minutes of being released from the Canadian Tire where my tire had been changed. Yeah…. I got stopped at 140km/h, which was lucky since I was pushing 180km/h just moments before. Shhhh…. This was before they implemented the automatic seizure of licences and vehicles for 50km/h over the speed limit (on highways) in Ontario.
So you’re probably wondering why getting a flat tire didn’t ruin my day today. Well… I WAS on my way to one of my business classes, but due to my aforementioned over-punctualness, I had given myself an extra 90 minutes to get to the laboratory. You would, too, if you knew the horror that is the Japanese National Route 6. So, no problems there. And obviously, a seasoned road trip veteran, such as I am, would know a thing or two about changing tires after (what feels like) a thousand road trips across NHL, AHL, and OHL country. Besides, it’s not fucking hard. All I have to do is squeeze my tits together, and the thing magically gets done. God bless the universal language of cleavage!
I suppose today’s incident did put a bit of a sour taste in my mouth as it reminded me of those Milwaukee incidents all those years ago, and I started to wonder, if hockey does get cancelled, if things will be as they were back then. It’s been 8 years. I was a teenager during the last NHL Lockout, and I was clearly using hockey as away to assert my independence. Back then completing a hockey road trip felt like a major accomplishment, and since Toronto to Milwaukee was my first cross-border roadie during that 04-05 non-season, I sure was proud of not dying on that one.
I still remember that feeling I used to get on those first few trips while waiting in line at the border, and absolutely freaking out for no reason at all. I remember my friend saying to me, “I don’t know what it is, but I feel really nervous.” And me trying to brush it off like it was nothing, even though I was also freaking out, “Just let me do all the talking.” Yeah, you’d think we were trafficking or something, but we were just two young hockey fans against the world and patronizing border guards, “Does your daddddddy know you’re here?” Eww. Rapist.
Once I was over the border, I always felt like I was stealthily cutting through the night with Boysie, my trusted steed. I’m one of those weird people that prefer to drive at night, and I’m sure I picked up this habit while trying to survive on the mean streets of America as a rookie during the Lockout. As a young Canadian, it was really off putting to see all those billboards for lawyers trying to tempt you into suing the ass off of any and everyone. As an innocent (road trip) virgin these ads were terrifying, and I suppose I thought traveling at night was one way to keep the “heat” off my back.
Aside from all the unknown foes that lurked along the sides of the Interstates, the Lockout season was really one of the best hockey seasons I have ever had. The AHL was incredible that year, and the Leafs‘ indefinite hiatus from my life, opened me up to a whole new world of hockey I likely would never have explored otherwise. I suppose the last lockout made me the Psycho fan you know and love (or hate), so I guess that’s a plus.
I just can’t help but wondering what will happen now. Like you, I don’t believe we will lose an entire hockey season if the NHL does lockout, but that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. I guess I’m a bit saddened because I don’t think I will be able to relive the magic that was the AHL season of 2004-05. In the years following the Lockout, the American Hockey League really began to depress me. Every time I dragged myself to a game, I would feel really uncomfortable. Half empty arenas are like my kryptonite, they absolutely KILL me. And the players. Oh, the players! Half the roster is kissing the sky that they get ice time in the A, while the other half is pissed off because they think they deserve to be in the big show. I don’t know. AHL games make me feel sad and lonely these days, but maybe things will change if some NHL guys trickle into the system. Fingers crossed for that.
Am I making any sense here? I have to clear out my liquor cabinet before the big move, and I’ve been quite dedicated to the cause, if you know what I’m sayingrynnignnshfm FIVE DOLLARS get out of here… (bonus points if you understood that).
Anyway, don’t think I haven’t noticed that my unlucky streak continues with my return to Canada coming just as the NHL is about to lockout. My return to Canada could not be avoided, but it is unlikely to be a permanent thing. Although I will likely be in Canada for the entire hockey season, I will likely be gone again in 2013. I have already been offered a job (next year) teaching at a women’s university in Saudi Arabia, and I would very, very, very much like to be able to contribute to the education of Saudi women. I don’t know, but I consider that to be a significant thing, and I am very thankful and excited for the opportunity. Of course, many things can change in 11 months. Perhaps, my North American life will change in a monumental way, and I’d be a fool to leave again, but for now the compass in my crystal ball is pointing me toward the Middle East. The clock is ticking, as they say.
I WAS hoping to be able to finally knock those last 4 NHL rinks off my list this season before I leave again, but with only 12 days until the 15th, that is looking less and less likely. Perhaps, I am not meant to visit all the NHL rinks. Hockey has taught me some pretty harsh lessons in my lifetime; lessons like learning to value men that don’t regard me as their entitlement, like certain men with skates are prone to doing, for example. Perhaps, my four missing hockey rinks are another lesson that I have yet to grasp… Learning to walk away without “closure.”
Top Photo: Still proud of that tattoo, “Bokensha.” From lockout to (possible) lockout, it has been an adventure…