Monday, 13 July 2009

Firing Blanks

How can one turn a team around? How can a single person affect 35 guys? More importantly, how do you make 35 guys care. This weekend must've been the lowest point in a few years that I've played. With the playoffs looming, I would've imagined that players would've come out fighting for a win. How wrong was I? It should've been evident when I walked through the door of the dressing room and faced a team that was lethargic and just about ready to give up.

Our coach did a great job coaching the team, spoke all the right words between periods, but the team simply does not respond. What is more dissapointing is that guys can sit in the changing room and smile and laugh after being thorouglhy beaten. No one said anything. Maybe I should've, but I was seething with anger, to the point that I am put off hockey, for the first time in many years. Where I have sacrificed time and effort off the ice and sacrifice every waking moment thinking about the game, I feel that I am short changed by the rest of the guys. Well not all of them, but by a majority of them.

What was most comforting after the game was when I talked to my dad. As ever I let him get an earful (poor guy) of the woeful performances of the team and he said: "You have to understand that Hockey is not as big of a thing to most guys as it is to you." Another one offering some insight and concelation was my wife. She told me that I show dedication and the commitment is commendable and how it is not instilled in most kids, which reflects to some of the guys on the team.

I have been on a losing end before but it is not fun. I want to win games and help the team in doing so, but right now I am not too sure whether it is worth my time.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Stuck in a rut

Scraping the bottom of a barrel isn’t easy at the best of times. Recently however, I have found myself asking the same questions that I was last season at the same time, though this time for entirely different reasons.

When I first started writing this blog, I said I loved the emotional rollercoaster that hockey is. Right now on an individual level and team level, we must be at the bottom of a steep fall and struggling to get momentum to climb up the hill. Since I got back from holiday and I managed to skate with the professionals for a few weeks, the team has struggled with games. After coming back from holiday we have played three games and won only one of those. Well technically two, but that was only after the game was over and there was an in-eligible player involved with the other team.

Though we have come away with four points out of potential six, it is still frustrating. The reason for my frustration stems from a couple of things, but the first one is on a team level. I have dedicated a lot of my own free time to this sport and committed to as many games as possible, only to travel to distant cities on my own expense to have a short bench against a team of four lines. Where the constant argument could be that we play hockey because we love it and it is fun, but the truth is there is nothing fun in being at the receiving end of a 16-4 loss, or 11-1 loss. There is nothing to love in playing games like that and it is really difficult to keep yourself motivated through games like this.

After these two bitter losses, I have seriously started to question, yet again, whether this is worth my time and efforts. My goal is always to win games, but for some reason there seems to be an air of lethargy that hangs over the team when it comes to games, specially away games. I know some guys have valid reasons why they can’t do all of the games. Hell I’ve missed two already, though they were at home.

Though I am pissing and moaning about the lack of commitment from certain individuals on the team I am still going to give it my all till the end of the season. We have two points separating us from the a play-off spot.

The other reason which is causing me much grief at the moment is on a play level. I was on a leisurely stroll with my wife and our good friend yesterday and stumbled across a bunch of guys playing soccer. What struck me at their game of kick ball was that I identified similarities between they way we play and the game of soccer. When we got thrashed at Chelmsford over the weekend, I noticed that we are, as a team, trying to be too cute with the puck and score highlight reel goals. When I saw these guys playing soccer, they were doing exactly the same thing. “Hey, look guys, I’ve got an open place to shoot! Oh wait, I’ll just do some gay ass move and try to pass it! Oh No! My pass was intercepted and now they’re rushing our net!”

Hockey is a team game yes, but a true goal scorer is selfish and ruthless. A goal scorer will take shots when possible without thinking about pass opportunities or a highlight reel goal. Where we did score one goal off a pretty play over the weekend, the other team scored 16 from purely shooting. Our keeper did a fantastic job at it, despite letting 16 goals past him, but if the other team got off 79 shots in the whole game, that speaks volumes on the amount of saves he had to make during the game. 100% of the shots you don’t take don’t go in!

Which leads me to my final concern, which is an individual one. I’ve played five games this season and come away with the stats of 0+4. It isn’t too bad, but I am worried as it is not reflective of my style of play. At the moment I can’t seem to buy a goal if I wanted to. I’ve had chances and a load of good ones but somehow the goalies seem to rob me off the shots and dekes I carry out. Where I did have a Saku Koivu esque mentality of a play maker and a set up man for this season, I am still a goal scorer at heart. I need to get the goal monkey off my back or otherwise it will be there daunting me for a long time. It is starting to get frustrating not finishing the chances I have, where I know that a year ago, or two years ago I would’ve buried 70% of the chances that I’ve had. Hell the goal could be the size of a football goal and I still wouldn’t get the puck in the net.