playing hockey outside

Paul Stevens

When you see the above words, your mind may wander to a Christmas-time song.  In my little world, it reflects the fact that hockey season is now upon us.  I look forward to this each year and especially this current one since last year’s start was delayed due to my run-in with a pick-up truck while cycling, a run-in that I lost quite handily.

This time around, I think I’m in as good a shape conditioning-wise as I have been in many years so the only thing to hold me back will be a lack of talent but that is something that I have learned to live with. It’s all about the right attitude, isn’t it?

Our season actually started a couple of weeks ago but I missed the grand opening due to an unavoidable prior commitment.  The second week was skipped under the terms of our ice rental contract due to our Thanksgiving Day.  In Canada, Thanksgiving falls on the second Monday in October since if we left it any later, we would be harvesting snowballs instead of the last of the season’s bounty.

The Most Wonderful Time Of Year

Several years ago, there was a TV commercial (I think it was for a beer company) that started out with a young man walking down a street carrying his hockey stick and equipment bag.  It was a particularly wonderful day as the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and all seemed right in the world.  The young man was taking in the glory of the day, no doubt pleased that he was on his way to play a game on such a picture-perfect day.

As he is walking along enjoying the occasion, the birds start to fall out of the trees and passersby faint as he moved past.   “What’s going on here?” you might ask.  Well, some of you will know the answer.  If you have ever had the displeasure of catching a whiff of a well-seasoned equipment bag, you will know that it can border on an environmental disaster.  Point well taken in the commercial and cracking that bag open after a summer of dormancy is not for the faint of heart.

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I have learned my lesson well over the years and I always make sure my equipment is cleaned and laundered before it gets tucked away for the summer.  That way, when it gets opened for the first time in the fall, you do not have to worry about it shortening your life expectancy.  I wash my own equipment and never add it to the family laundry as that is a task that could put an unnecessary strain on married life.

The Love/Hate Relationship

It should be noted that a malodourous equipment bag is not the exclusive purview of the male of the species.  Teams I have been on have followed into dressing rooms used previously by the ladies teams and the distinct aroma is most definitely there.  Oh, there may be a hint of something on the feminine side such as fresh shampoo or even perfume but the overwhelming odor is still there.

About the only people that don’t cause a stink (literally) are kids under the age of about ten.  After that, it becomes like a rite of passage in that you can lay claim to adding to the allure (?) of the arena. It’s all part of the mystique I guess and it’s a reminder of what makes a hockey arena a hockey arena. You can’t have one without the other.  The building and the attendant smells go together like toast and jam.

Don’t get me wrong here – I don’t love the smell of an equipment bag. It just seems to be one of those bizarre things that add up to the overall experience.  It’s like people that grew up living near an active railway line then move away at some point only to find that they have difficulty sleeping because they miss the old sounds of home.  Truth be known, an easy way to keep an equipment bag from becoming a lethal weapon as it was in the description of the above TV commercial is to toss in a sheet or two of those fabric softener sheets that are readily available at any grocery store.

Febreze or stale hockey equipment?  Take your pick. Of course, you can opt for the fail-safe method and just air the equipment out on a drying rack if you have the space to do so.  For reasons that must relate to that Venus and Mars thing, way too many guys leave their equipment in their vehicle until the next game.  There can’t be many things worse than putting on cold, damp equipment that is on the verge of becoming overly ripe.

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We have a tournament planned for later in the season that will take place in Niagara Falls, Ontario.  We have previously participated in this one and it draws participants from Canada and the northern U.S. We’ll be able to compete with teams in the ‘Over 50’ age group so we don’t get stuck trying to chase down a bunch of thoroughbreds in the younger age groups.  There is no dignity in suffering from wind burn when these young ponies rocket by.

Changing Seasons

With the start of the hockey season, there remains lots of cycling to be done.  Does this mean that I get to be a two-sport phenomenon like Bo Jackson or Dion Sanders?  Not even close!  It just gives me another option to do things that I really have fun doing.  Cycling and hockey are great compliments to each other as the leg strength and cardio workout that you get from cycling translates to the ice very nicely.  Also, cycling the day after a game is a low impact way to work out the kinks and pass any lactic acid that may be lingering.

Depending on the weather, I should be able to enjoy the two-sport world for perhaps two months.  That will bring me to the middle of December when snow and or cold weather will cause me to put the wheels away until next spring.  In the interim, there would always some skiing to enjoy so all will not be lost.


Your friend, Paul.


And remember – Carpe Diem (but in relaxed sort of way)!

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