So the season is over, and it’s been a tough one. We entered with high expectations, and left with disappointment. Still, I found myself asking the same question over and over tonight. “What is hockey?” Over time, that question evolved into “what does hockey mean to me?” A rush of great memories flooded my mind, and I can’t help but smile. Even after a tough season, I’m reminded of how wonderful all of the people I’ve encountered through hockey have been.
So what does hockey mean to me? Hockey is waking up early to tailgate with new friends. Hockey is getting excited about anything going on in the organization, big or small. It’s about making lifelong friends just from a single interaction. It’s tailgating to celebrate the beginning of a brand new season, rain or shine. It’s the optimism and excitement you face at the start of every year. It’s spending the whole day celebrating with friends, making new friends, and bonding over the love of the sport. It’s the joy that’s experienced when the team we love comes out on the ice for the first time. Hockey is the wistful feeling you get when the last game of the season comes around. Even though the team didn’t make the playoffs, you can’t help but feel proud of the team. It’s standing in the rain for five hours just to hang out with friends that you won’t see for a few months. It’s tearing up at the Canadian anthem, sung in memory of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team. It’s the optimism for the next season that appears year after year. It’s the sadness that I experience on the way home when I realize that something I’m so passionate about will disappear for a few months. Still, I’m left with the reminder that I have wonderful friends who will welcome me back year after year.
Seriously, I’m so grateful for every single one of you. It’s been a very trying season, but I couldn’t be happier to call you all my friends. You’ve welcomed me into this community, and it’s been wonderful ever since. This season, Calm Before the Storm expanded by adding two writers. The blog has grown tremendously, but we’re by no means done providing content. I took over for Pat on Canes Prospects, which has been fun to keep up with. I’m so thankful for Derek, Mike, and the whole 328 crew for another phenomenal season of tailgates and friendship. They’ve been so wonderful to Elyse and I this season, and I couldn’t be happier. It hit me really hard tonight that I’ll be going to California this summer, and won’t really be able to pay much attention to hockey for two months. I’ll be missing the draft and free agency, so it’ll be hard to keep up with my passion as much. California will be a wonderful opportunity for me, but I’m still sad that I won’t get a chance to talk hockey with my friends. I’ll barely be able to check my phone, much less tweet about hockey. I’ll miss all of you dearly. I won’t get to see many of you until the next tailgate, so tonight was definitely bittersweet. Still, I”m so happy that I’ve made even more wonderful friends this season. To those I met today, I hope that you consider me a friend as well.
It’s still hard to put into words how happy I am that I’ve made all of these friends over the course of this season. I am definitely a little sad that I won’t be able so see any of you for a long time, but I know that we’ll all be able to get together at the start of the season and have a damn good time.
I love my hockey family. Thank you all for such a wonderful season, now let’s make next year even better.