The Fox’s Tail: Life after hockey?

Blog — By on February 4, 2012 12:29 PM

I finally got my camera back, and I'm so excited, thought I'd be boastful and show off some of my handiwork .. obviously this photo is from the summer.

The Fox’s Tail is a blog featuring a hockey perspective from a girl working with a hockey team in Canada.

By Fox

The other night, I finally got a Tuesday night off so I could go see all my buddies down at this grimy barn in seedy industrial parks and hang out in the parking lot drinking beer and listening to the latest afterward.
Yeah, I feel old sometimes, hanging out at beer league, my buddies who were once promising junior players, are mostly washed-up. All the guys who made it anywhere are gone in the winter, but the ones who stick around are no dusters. These are guys who played NCAA, OHL, minor pro and Junior A hockey. It’s not bad, the rink is always nice and quiet – there’s no stands, so I can stand down by the glass by myself and not have to see bitter girlfriends giving me dirty looks. (No, I’m not there to look at your overweight duster boyfriend playing in the C division game on the other pad, get over it.)
The boys were playing a team that’s a division lower, but because of how the league is set up in winter, it’s a mix of the two levels. One of the guys on the other team was so pissed off, because my buddies’ team beat their team, he was losing it in the dressing room on his own teammates, and ended up getting changed in the lobby. (Where I was trying to wait for my buddies, until I saw him take off his hockey pants … in the lobby. Really? Ew. I continued my wait outside, where people had their clothes ON.)

And just a random photo from an AHL game I was covering back in the day when I still dreamed of working at a newspaper.

Once everyone came outside, one of my oldest friends I met through hockey, Rob, who had suited up for the opposing team that evening, came over to talk to us while we were discussing the merits of taxpayer dollars being spent on inmates in federal prisons (no joke, that’s what these guys were talking about. Used hockey to get themselves educations!)
The topic then turned to the angry friend, the one who was so upset after the game, he had to leave.
“It’s hard on him, you know,” said Rob. I had been gossiping with one of the guys on “our” team about another friend of ours who recently got engaged. I stopped and turned to listen to Rob talk.
This guy was having a bit of a rough time, according to my friend. Rob explained, “It’s hard when you first have to leave hockey. Every year, you have something to look forward to, another season to train for, something to do with yourself. Now … he’s got nothing.”
The pair of them played together in the O … they look mismatched and silly together, since one is so big and the other so small. They’ve both got great skills on the ice. And while I was quite disgusted at watching him remove his clothing (okay and SMELL it across the lobby), I had to feel for the guy. I know what it’s like to have your dream crushed. (I never had any aspirations to be a blogger. I much prefer covering events, games, interviewing people etc.)
I’m hoping maybe I’ll see this guy again, I’d love to get to know more about his story. He played plenty of years of pro, AHL, ECHL, CHL and probably has some great stories. But I’m sure it’s got to be tough … leaving the game behind when it’s the only thing you’ve known your whole life.
Lots of my buddies went on to coach after their careers are over. I know a few too many people in the AAA leagues in Toronto at the moment. Can’t show up at a tournament without seeing at least a handful of people I know. Other guys just play rec league with their buddies, join the ranks of the weekend warriors. A couple of my other friends from home are playing Senior AAA now, which actually isn’t bad hockey at all. I love looking at the rosters for those teams — it’s like a who’s who of “whatever happened to so-and-so.”
And some guys just quit. They don’t want to coach or manage or even play anything more organized than some shinny on the pond.
And so, I ask you, gongers, for those of you who are finished playing, how did it feel when you hung em up? Were you forced to due to injury? Did you decide you’d have more fun just playing rec league with your buddies? Did you dive into coaching or managing?
What’s life like, after hockey?

- Foxy

To quote one of my favourite writers, Roy McGregor, “The dream never dies, it simply begins again each winter.”

Question, comment, chirp? Get at me … Twitter @hockey_foxx or e-mail me at redline_blueline@hotmail.com .. For girl stuff (and hockey) check http://hockeyfoxx.blogspot.com

68 Comments

  1. ezmoney says:

    Its gonna be tough to hang em up, next year will probably be my last.

  2. jetman says:

    will never stop playing

  3. A-Snow says:

    I seriously was just having this conversation with a player last night…my heart breaks for guys when they have to face hangin em up. If its hard for me and I’m just the support, I don’t want to know how awful it must be for them.

  4. schmodey says:

    Everyone ends up in beer leauges at some point its where we’re all destined to play no matter what level you play. Still playin Jr but it’ll be a tough day when that comes… you’re never far from the game tho, I can see myself coaching at some points somewhere along the lines too

  5. grayser12 says:

    You can find some respectable mens leagues in canada. Tough to make the transition though. Great read foxx

  6. Sifty21 says:

    very true, good read fox

  7. rsails says:

    i’m done playing competetively, but i will never stop playing for fun

  8. Joey Z says:

    Great read fox it really makes ya think. Thanks!

  9. Eddie says:

    Had a couple buddies make the “jump” from competitive to beer league and it’s not the easiest transition. Gotta feel for those guys

  10. Rosey says:

    had to retire to beer leagues awhile ago, sucks but its part of hockey life

  11. crosvechkin says:

    good read

  12. TDM says:

    Great Read….Never hang them up!

  13. morganbonnah says:

    Great article! Made my jump this winter. Not easy to do but it’s nice to take a step back and sort of find your love for the game again. Hockey should never feel like a job

  14. CaptainKlutch says:

    life after your playin days is tough but i still play mens league, but i still relive the playing days in my head all the time

  15. Keither says:

    i call it hockey purgatory. beer league is a hockey player bone yard. It eventually happens to all players.

  16. chrisfrat says:

    so true, I now know why so many pro dont play any more when the retire, when theres nothing on the line or to prove, theres no motivition

  17. Pete says:

    Ironically my beer league might be better hockey and draws bigger crowds than anywhere I ever played any kind of significant minutes.

  18. Wilksy says:

    Gonna be tough to hang it up one day.

  19. michaelbrill says:

    great read. I never played anything more than AAA in the states, but last year after I played my last game with the boys I couldnt keep it together leaving the rink. I’d played travel for 10 years and couldn’t believe it was my last game. Couldn’t have asked for a better one though, scored the game winner on the PP, but still a tough pill to swallow.

  20. Capn Kev says:

    will probably never stop playing, but i do fear getting old and losing some of the spark

  21. njdevils923 says:

    i never want to stop playing

  22. race says:

    great read, never want to hang em up

  23. Cousinsimon says:

    Well I wish I could say I know what they are going through but I went from playing house league to playing old timer hockey! Pretty much just playing shinny games and ODR stuff but as long as I can lace em up I wont be hangin em up!

  24. cchockey4 says:

    don’t want to think about the end of the season

  25. hasser4 says:

    never hang them up

  26. Bouch says:

    ill play til the day i die

  27. tedhoefel says:

    Hate it now that I can’t play anymore.

  28. mony48 says:

    never hanging them up. will always be playing even if its beer league

  29. Eric Forrest says:

    long live puck

  30. Patty says:

    beer league puck… where dreams are made

  31. tyler_19 says:

    Don’t ever hang them up until you have too, no matter what league it is, stick too it.

  32. tyler is right never hang em

  33. jette4 says:

    never give up

  34. ben14 says:

    never quite playing hockey

  35. Geurtsy says:

    great read

  36. shortsxit says:

    Never take the game for granted boys. Even after you stop playing, stay involved–coaching, officiating, driving the zam…whatever.

  37. MitchSmeth97 says:

    Unreal

  38. beautygonger97 says:

    Dirty

  39. SpeedySaxe7 says:

    nice!

  40. mholla87 says:

    Quitting in high school was one of the hardest things I have ever done, and at times I do regret it, but because of the way my teammates treated me, it was for the best. Now in college I can play intramural and have fun just playing for the fun of the game. I love the competition but I’m glad I never quit because I hated the game, and it gave me a second chance to play even with an injured shoulder, I’ll never truly hang up my skates

  41. Sniper8 says:

    unreal article keep it up

  42. Burgos says:

    unreal write up.

  43. Mr. Dangles says:

    There’s a reason I’m geting the Livin’ the Dream hat

  44. aspen hank says:

    you can never just give up the game…

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Or Register an account with us.