The Price of your Entertainment is Their Bodies

Two heart wrenching tales from players, one still active and another retired, show the stark contrast of what is taking place on the other side of hockey; the dark side.

The first was a story that pulled at your heart strings and something that the average public could relate to; the untimely death of a friend or loved one. Dan Carcillo lost his best friend and former teammate Steve Montador back in January. He described the pain and emotional turmoil he went through in the days following Monty’s fate. Monty’s death made him take a long, hard look at how and why the life of a professional hockey player can spiral out of control and so quickly into the world of depression. From reading his words it seems like there is many players in the National Hockey League that are suffering in silence.

The second tale was about the life of an enforcer after the knuckles and blood have been thrown. Mike Peluso opened up his life and described how he has inherited a seizure disorder after suffering through years of concussions from punches to the head. Like in my first “Dark Side of Hockey”, Peluso describes how he would be misdiagnosed – most likely on purpose – to get him back out onto the ice to finish game after game. He never mentioned anything about his mental health but I can imagine it has taken a beating at some point in his days following his retirement.

“When the game is over, the enforcer’s suffering has only just begun.” – Mike Peluso, The Globe and Mail, April 24th, 2015

You could take that quote and apply it to almost every player once the game is gone. It can apply to every player in any league around the globe. However, let’s face it.

You can leave the game but the game never leaves you.

There are many different scenarios to why a player leaves the game. The worst ones are the ones that are out of your control. An injury, family circumstances, a death, team folding. Many things can cause early retirement. When things are out of control though, you’re usually not prepared for it and that’s where things can get frightening in your head. The thoughts that swirl through your mind, like anybody else, can haunt you. Thoughts of wondering if you could have did things differently to still be playing. The anger of wondering why these things happened to you can be soul crushing. All your dreams taken away in an instant.

montador

This is where we need something in place to help before things get out of our hands because this is a major problem. Be it a group of former players and sports psychologists teamed together to battle the depression facing newly retired players. The military has an action called debriefing whenever soldiers return from their tour overseas. In it they meet with at least a psychologist to talk about everything they witnessed over there and to make sure things are okay up there. It may be quite the comparison to make but why can’t teams have something like when a player retires? It’s just an idea and just a step.

The thing is though, we can talk until we’re blue in the face and have teams and leagues implement procedures for retiring players and have systems in place for former players to reach to but that’s just it.

We can’t do anything to help unless THEY want it.

We can’t help unless the players talk. More players need to come out and just like anybody else, show that it’s okay to have depression. It’s okay to have anxiety. You’re not any less of a man or a player for having it. The more players that come out, the more younger players can go “Okay, he went through what I’m going through. He’s like me.” One of the biggest misconceptions is that players think they’re the only ones going through this when it’s likely a teammate is going through the exact same thing.

Rising star Terry Trafford took his young life during a battle with mental illness.
Rising star Terry Trafford took his young life during a battle with mental illness.

You’d be shocked at the amount of former players that messaged me from all over the world when I first wrote “The Dark Side of Hockey”. NHLers, and former NHLers explained the things they went through over the course of their career and the ramifications since they’ve packed up their skates. Mental illness is just the tip of the iceberg to what these guys face now. Problems including financial, drug abuse, living arrangements, international predicaments involving countries are just some and you know what? There’s no one there to help them with anything once the jersey is hung up for good.

You might be saying to yourself, “What the hell do you care Ashley, you’re just some woman who’s never played pro hockey.” Well, I may not have played pro hockey. Hell, I haven’t been on the ice in 10 years but my love for the game hasn’t changed. In fact, it’s grown. I now have many friends that are involved in pro hockey in some aspect and they deserve the help they need from the teams and leagues they busted their ass for years for. I don’t claim to be an expert on sports psychology but I know a problem when I see one.

The other reason is to bring awareness. The more people that read and realize the need for something to be done will only put pressure on the powers that be. Once the NHL does something it will trickle down to the other leagues but why should it take the NHL to do something? Because they have the money and power? No, screw that. The time is now and it doesn’t matter who starts it first. Hell, if the LNAH wanted to start something for players and be the lead then so be it. People will be helped.

Professional athletes are just like you and me. They’re people too. For years they give us entertainment in exchange for the price they pay of their bodies. Their entertainment might actually help some people with their mental health. Enough is enough, it’s time to give back.

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Sports Apparel and Women

p13672599p275wThis is going to be more of a rant than anything else so bare with me.

Us women have come a long way. Now there’s still a ways to go between equality and the sporting world but this isn’t about what happens on the ice, field, court, diamond, whatever. I’m not going to get all political or feminist on you because quite frankly, that’s not my thing. (Kudos to those who do however.) I’m going to talk about something that has been bothering me for years.

Sports fashion.

I’m not talking about the latest Versace, Stella McCartney, Thierry Mugler threads. (Shocked that I know who they are, aren’t you? Yeah, I surprise myself too sometimes.) Nor am I talking about the pink jerseys and t-shirts or diamond encrusted logos. I’m talking about sizing.

Let me paint a picture. I’m about 5’8′ and all my life I’ve been referred to as being well built. By that I mean, broad manly shoulders, broad hips, huge muscular legs and to put it bluntly…..a large rack. (Sigh. Go ahead and picture it, I’ll wait…..done? Moving on.) You can easily see where I’m going with this, can’t you?

There are many other women in the world who are just what I described above and here’s our dilemma. When it comes to wanting to support our favourite teams through apparel, we are faced with two categories. Women’s section or men’s section.

51kpACV0WnL._SY300_In the women’s section we have the best designed shirts, beautiful logos and colours, unique abstract patterns, tailored perfectly to fit a women’s curves but there’s one problem. A size XL won’t even fit my left arm. Okay, no worries! (Don’t even get me started on plus size.) We’ll just head over to the men’s side.

The men’s side has the more generic looking t-shirts and whatnot but it’s our team so let’s get pumped! Problem? Yeah, a size small fits me like a dress.

See the dilemma? There’s no happy medium for women who are built like I am. I’ve heard people tell me to just lose weight and I’ll fit into it. Sorry sweetie, but it’s kinda hard to change my bone structure. Well, buy from the mens and shrink it! Yeah, no, a shirt will only shrink so much.

This isn’t a shot at smaller women either so don’t get me wrong. They wear that apparel with pride and I couldn’t be happier seeing more women in teams colours that perfectly accentuate their curves and bodies.

I just wish I could join them some day.

Worthless Pieces Of Paper: Kovalchuk And Contracts

It’s safe to say that Ilya Kolvachucks’ decision to retire from the NHL was something more premeditated that many thought.

In fact March gave me a heads up via a text message and was like – KOVY IS RETIRING! and the first thing I said was –


(had to add a Queenie reference there!)

Anyway I said – No way, and if he is, he will be playing in the KHL and sooner rather then later.

So, are players just going to be able to ‘Retire’ instead of honouring their contracts? (Although lets face it – his contract was awful..in so many ways!) But retiring and making it official takes you off your employers books. you are essentially free of whatever contractual obligations you had. What if Roberto Luongo, who  is in a very similar contractual position, said he was going to retire? (Doubtful as he has no other credible options, as Kolvachuk does  in the KHL) but you get what I mean.

From the Devils stand point I think they possibly see it as a blessing in disguise. They no longer have to honour is huge ridiculous contract and get out of it pretty much scott free.


I may add that it’s debatable that due to honouring his deal they lost out on a lot of space to accommodate other much needed talent or go after Paraise and others of his quality.

But I digress back to my last point. My concern here is what kind of precedence this sets for contracts in the future. Lets face it here, clubs and players  are one in the same – they are savvy and will be looking for loop holes out of their own stupid decision making and discontent if needed. After the lockout this year and all the meetings, and discussions that came along with  it, it really surprises me they overlooked incidents such as this.

I just hope this doesn’t become a regular occurrence in the NHL for players and teams to void their stupidity!

Being An Away Fan In The Opposing Team’s Arena

Unless you’re the Ottawa Senators (cause banning Toronto fans into the Crappy Tire Centre can’t be too far behind.), fans from the opposing team in that evening’s game might be scarce. Sure there might be a couple of fans who live in town or a few might make a road trip down but there a few things to consider if you decide to head down this road.

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1. Don’t Be A Drunken Loud Mouth Idiot
mad_hockey_fanThis is just asking for it. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen away fans lose their mind and get into people’s faces when their team scores only to be heckled even worse by the home fans surrounding them. Being a loud mouth in general is stupid but in certain arenas, this isn’t taken too lightly. Sit down, shut up, fist pump and scream a couple “Woohoo!” if you must but relax. You’re a visitor. (Toronto fans in Ottawa disregard this as I actually think it’s funny.)

2. Do Not Flaunt Your Jersey

Really Rihanna?! Really?! Sigh.
Really Rihanna?! Really?! Sigh.

I’m not saying don’t wear it. In fact, I recommended every fan in every sport to wear their jerseys with pride. Just don’t flaunt it. You’ve already been spotted with it on and mentally noted  as the enemy. For some reason, this is worse in places like Montreal and I hate to it, Boston. Personal story time: A few years ago my cousin, a Leafs fan, took in a regular season game in Montreal. He got up and did the occasional high fives and woohoo’s after every Leaf goal but was very tame. The Leafs ended up winning and on the way out, with him flaunting around his jersey got stabbed in the leg. Yes, it was stupidity on both parts but for future reference, just don’t do this. Granted, some people are just complete morons, hence this video:

3. Do Not Get Into The Home Town Fans Faces

This ties in with statement number 1 and it should be a given. There is nothing worse than know it all idiots who do nothing but rub the score in all game. News flash for you buddy, you’re outnumbered. If you’re gonna debate hockey stats, make sure you know your stuff buddy. Make one wrong move and it’s lights out for you.

4. Respect The Home Town Team

I don’t care how much you hate them. I don’t care how intense this “hatred” is. Respect the home team. You’re in their arena; their home. You’d want to be shown the same respect from visiting fans in your rink wouldn’t you? Furthermore, the players on your team are under just as much scrutiny as you are.

Oh…..and don’t be this guy. Goes for both home and away fans.

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Counterfeit Jerseys And You

I was reading an article posted by NBC Chicago about counterfeit jerseys and felt I should put my two cents in.

Common Sense Rule #1: Do not be this guy.
Common Sense Rule #1: Do not be this guy.

It’s an interesting topic because I am an Avid jersey collector.. I’m not going to lie. I do actually own a few fake NHL jerseys. One of which I was duped and bought under the pretence that it was real. I then bought a few out of morbid curiosity as to how they fair up against NHL official merchandise.

Counterfeiting is an issue surrounding any business with intellectual or financial property. However there will always be a market especially with these people praying on those of us with less money or low incomes.

So I thought I’d enlighten anyone who isn’t aware how to spot a fake one by a mile. I may have missed a few things, but here’s some basics.

1) Player ID tags. The grey ID patch in the bottom right hand corner (if you are a looking at a photo of it.) I have NEVER seen one of these patches on an counterfeit jersey. Possibly because they are too hard to counterfeit, but in my experience I’ve never seen one on a fake jersey.

Real deal:real

Counterfeit: fake

2) The weight. Most of these jerseys are modified CCM overstock. The Fabric from top to bottom is extremely heavy in comparison to the official Reebok merchandise. The badges and patches including the NHL logo at the collar are all thicker and less detailed when inspected a little more.

3) Sizing.. Another obvious sign..Official Reebok jersey merchandise is sized as S, M, L, XL etc.
– CCM sizes are numbered. 42,54 etc. As I said before most fake jerseys are Modified CCM jerseys.  clear sign of a fake!

4) Common sense. If a named jersey is for sale cheaper than 100 dollars from a store or seller frequent on something like ebay….beware. Especially if its from China or somewhere in south east Asia. You do however get private sellers who take real photos and are just selling a jersey, unwanted gifts etc. Then you got yourself a pretty sweet deal!

Basic Rule of Thumb – Anything cheap comes at a price my friends..if its too good to be true – it probably is.

If anyone has any tips of their own Tweet me with yours !

@pattenMH