July 30, 2012

Introspective Look Into My Own Hockey Future

It has been over a year now since the Vancouver Canucks lost game seven of the Stanley Cup final to the Boston Bruins. I have long gotten over the defeat itself, but I am still exploring the long term implications.

And no, I'm not referring to influences on the rest of the hockey, or the effects on either franchise or its fan base over the months and years ahead. Or about the destinies or legacies of the many characters involved.

No. I'm talking about my own long term personal implications. Specifically my future as a freelance hockey journalist, and, to some level, even my own future as a hockey fan.

Throughout those 2011 playoffs I knew that regardless whether my Canucks won or lost that those playoffs would somehow change me forever. I did not know how then, and I'm still exploring it now.

Throughout the entire playoff run I never really enjoyed the ride. I was so intense, so anxious, so unhealthily fixated by it all that I knew something had to give. It had actually been going on for years already. Three books, countless magazine and online articles, a few dozen unique projects and three very popular websites took everything I had, but I enjoyed every step.

Until the spring of 2011. I was burned out. I had to take a significant step back. Win or lose, I had to let hockey go, at least to some level.

Interestingly, had the Canucks won the Stanley Cup, I have little doubt in my mind that I would have almost retired as a hockey fan. Nothing could have topped that Stanley Cup championship that somehow escaped. It would have been grand exit. I had seen it all - all the Team Canada victories and then a Stanley Cup title after years of frustration - what a way to go out!

Instead, the Canucks lost and a bad taste was left in my mouth. The bad taste was not even pertaining to the Canucks so much as just hockey in general. The worse thing is that the bad taste kept me involved this past season more than I wanted to be. And it reflected in my work. To my regular readers here at GreatestHockeyLegends.com in particular, I almost have to apologize. My work here during the 2011-12 season undoubtedly came across at times as disinterested and forced. Try as I might, I just could not handle the daily grind. I have no idea how the players handle all this when a little fan like me can barely survive the setback.

The worst part was I tried hiding it much of the season, and I am sure it showed. Instead of being open with myself about it all, I just continued on, with my heart never back into it the same way. Only lately have I introspectively looked back. And ahead.

Which leaves me at a crossroads this summer. I have picked up no magazine article contracts, have not pursued sponsorships, have no plans whatsoever for the foreseeable future. I face a pretty big question this summer. Whenever the NHL gets around to opening the next season (yes, I am fully expecting a lockout to at least cancel the pre-season, hopefully no more), to what level do I come back?

I will always watch hockey, but I can definitely afford to cut back and maybe explore other things life has to offer. I will always follow the news stories online, and probably share some thoughts on Twitter. But do I continue to pursue freelance articles and maintain the websites? If I do, to what level.

The only thing I know at this stage is I have to enjoy hockey again before I can enjoy the writing. I'm hoping it is all rekindled come the new season, but I have no guarantees.


Anonymous said...

take a long break and think things over but please don't retire...love your blog and especially the player profiles...i noticed you're adding fewer new ones but im sure youre overwhelmed with other priorities in your life

Dirk Hoag said...

Look at the bright side - this is the perfect time of year to take a complete break for a few weeks and see how you feel afterward.

Chazac said...

Geez Joe .... I am a Bruins fan and yes, a Red Sox fan. I know what it's like to lose and to put your heart and soul behind a team and lose in very weird and mysterious (seemingly) ways! I can detail them for you but it *really* sucks when your bitter rivals (NY Yankees and Montreal Canandians) are always the ones to play Lucy to your Charlie Brown and pull the football away just when your going to kick a field goal and then laugh in your face and call you 'sucker' every time. Maybe you need a few of these shockers to toughen you up and then when the victories do come they are that much more sweeter! The Canucks will do it some day (look at the Kings !!!) .... be there and be fully involved when it happens .... you'll be glad you stuck it out.

Dan said...

I can honestly say that I suspected as much from your writing this past year (though there were a few gems), but here's hoping you rekindle that fire that made you the most refreshingly honest and original hockey writer around. Either way I'm nothing but appreciative for the great writing you have provided, free of charge, over the past three or four years I've been reading. Thank you.

Joel said...

I'm a Penguin fan (go Dan Quinn!) who grew up in Edmonton in the 80's and is now living in Calgary. 2004-2009 were emotionally draining - Flames, Oilers, Penguins (twice) made the cup final. I was naturally strongly rooting against Anaheim (Pronger) in 2007 and Selanne aside, disappointed with the result. Caring about so many playoffs takes a toll (Steelers in that mix too). Emotionally drained is what I am when it comes to hockey. I'm guessing that's where you are at.

At least Penguins won in 2009 - but they really shouldn't have - Detroit had them by the short and curlies. Similar to Boston/Vancouver where Vancouver was in control. Somehow the Penguin win, while satisfying, did little to re-energize me. I'm wondering if you would have found the same after a Canuck win.

The Canucks have had such lofty expectations for so many years - I don't doubt that their fans feel drained. The Oilers have had the opportunity to completely restock their cupboard. They may continue to disappoint but it feels like *new* disappointment rather than the same old feeling.

This year was refreshing to a certain degree. Without a strong rooting/emotional interest the playoffs were more enjoyable again. (I called a Kings/Pens as the final so I enjoyed the playoffs/bragging rights even though the Penguins were embarrassed).

I enjoy your approach to hockey. The content is unique on the net and shows a true appreciation of the game. I don't recall any post regarding salary caps, trade rumours, and the business of hockey in general. Just genuinely interesting articles, often about players that I've never heard of. I feel ready for a hockey trivia challenge every time I finish reading something on your site.

I've seen the sadness through your posts this year - the passion is certainly not there but the content selection reflects your genuine interest in the game and remains strong.

All I can offer is an appreciative thank-you and encouragement on recharging your passion.

It's easy to take hockey for granted. The fans of the Whalers, Nordiques, Jets, and Thrashers have all seen their teams disappear. As low as things can be for our respective cheering interests - remember that it can always get worse. :)

Go Norm Maciver!

hockey kazi said...

Sometimes you have to take a step back and clear the mind. If you don't enjoy something or your heart's not in it, then why continue. Recharge the batteries and if you feel like it, take baby steps and start slowly. If the passion is there, you will know and you can determine the path to take. Whatever happens, just enjoy yourself. Still reference your site now and then. Good stuff. Yours in collecting.

Bruce said...

Hang in there, take your time, and ultimately do what's best for Joe.
Also, thanks for all you've done to this point. Those career profiles already on file will remain invaluable.

Anonymous said...

Take a break Joe ! You deserve it !

Get back when you feel the time is right.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joe,
I remember Bob McKenzie once saying that the fan in him died a long time ago and he now cheers for a good story.
I think once Joe Sakic retired (the last of the superstars I grew up watching), the same has been true for me. I've quite enjoyed reading your biographies of all the players from the 80's & 90's - great stuff. And your World Cup/Canada Cup book is excellent.
If you need a break, it's definitely well deserved - but thanks for all your work!

RonNasty said...

Joe this blog has always provided as nice diversion to the NHL. As a Leaf fan, I have never known ANYTHING but disappointment. Sure there have been a few peaks among the vast deep valleys, but I'm still there. I don't think you're alone in the let-down department. The first two rounds of the play-offs were fantastic, but by the time the finals came along (almost 2 months later) my interest had begun to wain.
Your blog provided a link to a time when any disappointment had already been done and can only be relived over-and-over until eventually the seriousness dissipates into appreciation.

Unknown said...

Joe ... by the uncertainty of your words, they reflect the great feelings you have for the sport Hockey you love, this blog and all your work. When these moments come in life, and these questions come out, it is best to be calm and have time to return passion, we are confident that after this you will feel renewed and will have better opportunities and give us great projects as successful as you have done to date.