There is something that happens towards the end of every Hockey season that absolutely grinds my gears. I bite my tongue and try not to say anything about it as seasons come to unfortunate early ends and playoff runs are brought to a close, but for some reason this year I am more bothered than normal. I think by now, those of you who are regular readers of my blog know that I am a huge supporter of all you crazy Gongers out there, and I will cheer until I am blue in the face for the teams I support and the guys (and girls) I call friends. I am not alone in being supportive of area teams and players and am always excited when season is rolling around because it is inevitable some familiar faces and good friends will be arriving with it…even when I don’t want them to. Before you get confused, yes, I really did just say that I don’t want to see good friends returning with the season. (For the sake of this post, I am only referring to leagues other than the NHL. If you are a friend in the NHL, then OK, yes I will be stoked to see your return to your local team, since you are in the show, and really, that’s kind of the goal isn’t it?)
Regardless, back on topic. As I make friends with players throughout the many leagues of North American Hockey and as I move around and travel, I hear the same thing time and time again “I want to play in the Show,” or “I’m hoping to move up next season,” or “Man this league is rough, hopefully I can move on soon.” Honestly, I don’t blame them, I’d want to move all the way up until I was making bank in the NHL…and in some cases the AHL, so I always leave my friends wishing them well and hoping I don’t see them with their current clubs (again, NHL excluded), regardless of my own selfishness. I realize that to be friends with Gongers, you have to accept that you may have to go some time without seeing them. Much like seeing your favorite NHL star being traded, you have to accept that if you want to see them play, you’ll be tuning in to Game Center Live instead of heading to the arena. Every now and then I throw down the seven bucks or whatever it is to see some old friends playing in leagues across the US I don’t have access to since I am now in Northern California, but I’m always a little saddened that I don’t get to see them in my own local arenas.
Putting aside my own feelings on missing the Gongers who perpetually make my winters just a tiny bit more interesting, I get back to what bothers the daylights out of me! Facebook messages on all of these players’ walls from fans saying “Hope to see you back next season!” Now, if this is written on the wall of a player who A-Doesn’t want to move up, or B-Is towards the end of their playing days and the fan simply isn’t ready for them to hang up their skates just yet, then OK, it’s a fair and nice statement and I won’t be bothered by it. But for the love of all things sacred in Hockey, why on earth would you tell a great player you hope to see him back when what you should be saying is “Get out of here, play in a harder league and be as successful as possible!”?! I surely do not hope to see them back regardless of my personal relationships with them. I hope they move up, showcase their talents in other systems that can continue to develop them and ultimately realize their dreams and pull that NHL sweater over their heads. Obviously, not every player will reach the heights of the NHL, but I will always encourage them to keep climbing as long as they have the will and the drive to lace em up game after game.
I find it heart wrenching when players have the drive and the desire to succeed but fall short in talent and execution to move higher. This line from 24/7 sums it up well, “This is why it hurts so much when skill falls short of what the will desires. This is why it’s so unforgettable when absolute passion yields ultimate reward. And that’s all still just the start of what the game can do to you.” I can honestly say that it leaves me saddened when the men who play, fail to achieve their dreams. In the same breath however, I am equally as thrilled and uplifted for those who battle and beat the odds and win victories, however small some may be, in their own personal Hockey journey.
When I talk about these people, would be well-wishers who leave seemingly supportive comments on Facebook walls and twitter feeds for Gongers who have yet to leave their lasting cuts in NHL ice, I am not doing so to criticize them. I think they really do have great intentions when they write these messages, just poor execution on delivery. Much like I encourage all of the beauties who haunt the blogs of Gongshow Gear to maintain positivity at all costs and to be true supporters of one another and to occasionally change the way they view the world around them; I ask fans to do the same. Before we open our mouths to congratulate Gongers on seasons well played, or show support in heart breaker endings, first we must formulate a well thought-out, true statement of support. Yes, it is appropriate to let players know they were appreciated on the team and that you are saddened to see the season end, but wish them the best and let them move forward without feeling bad about it.
Gongers, go forth and conquer the Hockey world and don’t let anyone ever make you feel obligated to play somewhere. Play where the system will develop you as a player, W.S.P. and go get your glory!
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I’m really not trying to rip on fans, just wanted to make myself clear on that. I am after all, just a fan myself.