WHY THE RADIO SILENCE?
Yes the summer was off to a great start.
The Kings were the deserved Stanley Cup champs, proving that any team in the big dance at season's end has a chance if they get on a roll. Clutch scoring throughout the lineup combined with great goaltending is usually a recipe for success.
Oh man and when the Caps beat the Bruins in OT to win that series -- man that was good.
Finally the long nightmare was over.
Teams made some big-time signings, the biggest fish being Rick Nash who was nabbed by the Rangers. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter both signed with Minnesota. Guillaume Latendresse signed with the Sens. He'll be an impact player there, for sure. Uh huh.
On the Habs front, much news. We know Bergevin came in as GM then hired Michel Therrien for his second go-round as Habs head coach. Although I have to say I'm not a huge Therrien fan, he is much more experienced this time around and he did take the Pens to the finals. So let's hope for the best.
Then shortly thereafter the draft came along and the Habs picked Alex Galchenyuk as the third pick overall. Big, gifted scorer whom everyone says that if he was healthy, he would've gone number one instead of Yakupov. Well we'll see. But he looks promising for sure and hopefully this one pans out. The last thing we need is another Doug Wickenheiser.
Therrien already has an improved team to work with. Price was signed, Darche was not. Brandon Prust was signed, Brad Staubitz -- not. What about Campoli!? You're out. Francis "the bulldog" Bouillon? You're back baby!! Add Colby Armstrong who has much to prove and you have a team with a lot more sandpaper.
And then there's Andrei "keep away from my knees" Markov, who made his return thankfully at the end of the season -- but who can honestly say that was the "real" Markov!?
Smiling "Mike" Therrien, new head coach of the Montreal Canadiens. Let's hope the smiling continues.
He looked like he was playing shinny out there, and he should be thankful there is a note of compassion with players in this league, who stayed away from him like he was Wayne Gretzky circa 1982, where if you breathed on him you got a face full of Dave Semenko.
This could be the biggest ? for the Habs this shortened-season. Will Andrei Markov return to his pre-injury form and be the man for the powerplay? Big question... soon to be answered, thankfully. The man has been playing in the KHL so at least he's game shape.
Captain Brian Gionta looks to put last year's injury-riddled debacle behind him and have a bounce back year. He definitely has it in him. He's a battler.
Then there's P.K. Subban. Man this guy has been everywhere during the lockout. I'm almost sick of seeing him. Now's the time to shut that big yapper and play. And play well my friend. The Habs will sign him probably over the next few days.
And what about me? I was taking a nice writing-free hockey vacation, enjoying the summer and playing lots of sports which included hockey, softball and golf mostly, when just before the Canada Day weekend -- I PARTIALLY TORE AN ACHILLES TENDON!!!
Yes, go on and say it. "Ooohhh." Man if I had a buck for all the times I heard "Ooohh" over the last six months, I could maybe afford to go see a Leafs game. Not that I'm going to any games this year, nor should you...
But here's what happened: playing softball, I hit a clutch two-out single to drive in a run. The next batter hit a solid single into short right field and I exploded off of first base, took two strides then suddenly BAM! The first sensation was the feeling of getting hit in the leg, like the ball hit me. But then I saw the ball in right field. I've read the sensation is akin to getting shot. Now, I don't know what that's like, but you should know this: the sound was audible. Then the next sensation was as if I stepped into a pothole. Just nothing down there.
This is what happens when a forty-year-old man still tries to play sports like he's twenty.
HabsFan in Leafland with Mr. Teddy recouping from the torn achilles. Good thing this dog doesn't know how to mix drinks...yet!
Still, I somehow "legged" it out and got myself down to second base, safely, before dropping to the ground.
Before I was carried off the field, I already had the diagnosis -- my teammate had the same thing happen a few years back. "Torn achilles, see?" He pointed to a 4 inch scar at the back of his ankle. "Get the surgery." "How long?" I asked. "Well, maybe 4 months."
I couldn't drive, I couldn't walk, I couldn't do much except for sit. So I sat. I ate, I drank, I self-medicated, I watched a lot of movies and worked from home. I cursed my house, which has wayyyyy too many stairs. AND THIS WAS ONLY A PARTIAL TEAR. Luckily for me, I supposedly had one of the good tears. Yeah, whatever. I HAD TO SIT DOWN TO TAKE A SHOWER!! That freaking shower chair was a symbol for my predicament, for sure. Hard cast for four weeks, walking cast for another four. Physio for months. Fear of not walking properly and being known as the gimp hereafter. Even my girlfriend at the time laughed at me -- which I didn't appreciate very much, she's a goner. Worse, maybe never playing golf and hockey again, my two passions. Softball!? Stupid game, probably never going to play it again. Just not worth it. And here I was thinking I would write, write, write. But I became very demoralized and unmotivated to do much of anything to be honest.
I LOST MY MOJO.
And then this stupid lockout happened and so I figured, I'll just write this blog again when it ends. I took the fall/winter off from sports, did my physio, worked hard to get better and now I think I'm about 90%. Ready to start working out and getting back to where I was at when I was standing on first base back in June.
And today the lockout is over. So here I am. Who would've thought it would have taken so long!? Well, sort of predictable when you get two stubborn, egotistical SOBs like Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr facing off against each other. As Lindy Ruff so aptly said last season with what I will continue to use whenever and wherever it's appropriate: "It's A JOKE!!"
One word of wisdom from my injury: drinking while on crutches might sound like a good idea, but it's really not...
Anyhow, it's good to be back. Wish it was to a million dollar salary like those players but whatever... so long as the beer's cold, right?
PART 2: THOUGHTS on the LOCKOUT, HOW THE NEW DEAL AFFECTS PLAY ON THE ICE, THE SHORTENED SEASON, and what it all means.