The final buzzer goes—it’s over, just like that. No special celebrations no farewell parties. The only thing left is you and the game you love. Looking around you take it all in—the crowd, the scoreboard and the old barn that’s given you some of the most memorable moments of your life. For many of you out there the last competitive game of your hockey career was one of loss and disappointment. This might not be because you lost your final game but the loss and disappointment of seeing a life dedicated to hockey and chasing your dream hung up on the shelf or packed away in the basement. Whether you played Rep, Junior, Major Junior, Semi Pro or even those in the NHL, when the day comes to finally hang them up you are left with emptiness and heartbreak like you’ve never experienced before.
What do you do when it’s all over? When the dream of one day playing in the NHL comes to an end? Even for those who play in the NHL—what do you do when you can’t just play hockey anymore? No matter who you are, one day you will be told—it’s over. You could be told when you’re 18 you could be told when you’re 38, but no matter what you will be told the game has passed you by. What do you do when there are no more road trips, home stands, curfews, meal plans, training camps, try outs, bag skates or big wins? It might seem like it at the time, but the game you loved hasn’t left you. It’s still there for you but just in a different way. It’s no longer time to treat the game like a job or anything else but what it truly is—a game.
Hockey isn’t just about chasing the dream and trying to make it to the next level. It’s about the lifestyle—it’s about hanging out with the boys and playing the game you all love. Sharing the ice with some of the most important people in your life– The guys who have been there during championship games, mini sticks in the hall and the long road trips on the bus. Sitting around after telling stories and tall tales while reminiscing about all the best times of your life over a couple beers. No matter how old you are or what level you played when you’re with the boys– the chirps, the laughs the big goals and the big save are what it’s all about. Nothing more—nothing less.