Pros are real people too

With the recent news that two people were arrested in relation to former Minnesota Wild play Derek Boogaard’s death brought me back to that day 3 years ago when I heard he had passed. Derek Boogaard… the Wild’s legendary fighter who would defend his teammate’s to no end. Many saw him as a ruthless fighter but in reality he was just a person.. like everyone else around him. He had feelings, family, friends and things he loved. He died due to an accidental overdose of painkillers he had for a concussion that was a result of a fight.

Many people misunderstood Boogaard and his name was dragged through the mud because of the way he died. He was not a druggie, yes he was participating in illegal activity which I DO NOT condone but he also was not alone in this act. He played hockey and he was what most would consider a fighter… he was tall and built so naturally he used those abilities to fight when the problem arose.. and yes he was good at it. He was a clean fighter and never used cheap shots. During one of these fights he received a concussion.. one so bad he needed to have prescribed painkillers like many other athletes these days. He however became addicted and went to rehab several times to try to kick the habit. Several of his teammate’s were aware and his team had his back along with the league.. to a point. The day he died.. he had been out of rehab one day according to reports and his brother had supplied him with the drugs he was trying to kick. He went out to have some fun and did not wake up the next day.

He did have prescriptions for the painkillers but then they ran out.. yet someone kept supplying him. He was in the wrong as much as them.. I’m not saying he was in the right at all.. but he is a human. Many people have addictions they hide from others and some try to get help and just can’t kick the habit. It’s hard.. very very very hard. Unfortunately for Boogaard he was in the public eye.. and his concussion kept him out of the game he loved to play. Was it his fault he was addicted? Yes.. he could make his own choices but who was helping monitor him to make sure he didn’t become addicted? These painkillers are very strong.. was there actually someone helping to make sure he did not become addicted or did they look the other way.. or was it no one’s fault but his own? It’s hard to say anyone is to blame… but it’s also hard to say no one is.

He was just a human being with a very human problem and one of my concerns was.. the NHL can be partially to blame. My reasons? They allow fighting.. fighting leads to concussions.. concussions lead to painkillers.. painkillers lead to addiction.. addiction can lead to death such as what happened to Boogaard. This is a very real problem in hockey and other sports where concussions occur. He was an adult and can make his own choices but who allowed him to have access to the drugs in the first place? Fighting in my opinion needs to be stopped before others die. The steps the NHL has taken to control the fights.. are a step in the right direction but there could be more done to protect the players. Hockey does not need to be controlled constantly but there should be considerations taken on behalf of the players and future players.

Many players believe that fighting holds the other accountable but there are other ways to control accountability. Hockey is called hockey for a reason.. if it was meant to be fighting.. it would be called fighting. Yes, Boogaard’s profession was a bruiser.. and he fought a lot which basically led to his death but if the NHL did not allow fighting.. would he still be alive today?

There are many unanswered questions in this case and in this world but the very unfortunate thing is… a life was lost. He wasn’t just a hockey player, he was a human being and he meant a lot to a lot of people. The one fortunate thing that did come out of his death is it highlighted the life of fighters in hockey and the damage that can come from it. I understand that to some fighting is an integral part of hockey.. but that was the past. Things have changed a lot since those days and I think the rules need to change as the sport has. Helmets and face-masks have been added over the years, the red line has been removed and the trapezoid for goalies added. Why can’t fighting be adjusted to make it safer since we are adding other things to make the sport safer? No.. we don’t need to baby the sport or make it seem constantly monitored but maybe some slight adjustments can save a life.

I believe the sport owes that to Boogaard and the many other players that have been affected by fighting because the NHL hasn’t decided what to do about it or to protect them. Yes, they are fighters and protect others but who is protecting them? They are humans too and deserve to play the game they love just like everyone else.

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To Spin or not to Spin

Well go figure the NHL has added a rule change I am not very fond of. The NHL has ruled to ban the Spin-o-rama move from both the shootout and the penalty shot. For those of you that do not know what that move is, it basically involves a player who goes one on one with the goalie. The player skates towards the goalie and when they get about a foot or two away they spin their body (and the puck) completely around and shoot when they face forward again. This move is used to surprise and confuse goalies since they really aren’t expecting it. This move has been under strict scrutiny lately because the rules in the shootout and penalty shot state that a player may not stop their forward momentum.. in other words.. they are not allowed to stop.

My argument is that, yes the player may spin in a complete circle but as long as their feet continue to move and they slide forward on the ice, they are following the rules. They haven’t actually stopped momentum. I do not agree with this change because in my opinion they are taking away the freedom the players have to be creative. Yes, there are many moves a player may do, but why limit them on what they are allowed to do? The shootout was designed to allow players the freedom to showcase their skills and add a little fun besides shortening the game time when the score is tied; rather than the game going into overtime after overtime. If the league wants to keep the games short, let the players be creative and score… that’s what they want and that’s what fans want to see. They don’t want to see the players be limited to just what they are good or comfortable with. The spin-o-rama was also considered somewhat of a challenge for players and was a risky move because no.. not all players scored when they tried that move.

The players should be able to feel that they can be creative and try different things when a shootout happens. As long as they aren’t interfering with the goalie who really cares? Some may say it’s an unfair move because the goalies aren’t prepared.. but are the goalies prepared to handle a 100 mph slap shot from about 10 feet away? Not really.. the shootout is supposed to be that way.. unpredictable except for the players that have a signature move they use because they are in fact.. good at it. Some players however like to go out of their comfort zone or give themselves a challenge and by taking away that move.. that is limiting the creativity they can have.

The article I read about the rule changes from thescore.com also noted that the rule changes included more enforcement on face-offs and embellishment.. the face-offs I will have to read more about because if it’s what I believe it is, I probably won’t agree with that either. It already takes long enough for the refs to drop the puck… do they have to make it longer? But as I said I will have to do some more research in that area. The embellishment discussion I am all for, many players get away with embellishment/faking things and never have to be punished even though they are really the ones at fault. So that rule I am mostly in favor of but will need more information.

That’s all for rule changes for now.. I will try to read more up on the changes and add more info as it becomes available. This is quite a bit to take in but of course the NHL is all about changing rules quite a bit so there will be more where this came from. As always.. HOCKEY ROCKS!

The day I fell

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I got my start in hockey. Basically when I was five years old my parents told me they wanted to put me in an activity, the rules were as follows: I could choose whatever I wanted, but I had to at least give it a good try before deciding whether I truly liked it or not. If I really didn’t like it, I could quit and try something else. Well, my first choice and basically only choice was of course hockey. Not only because my cousins played it but because I loved watching it and that’s pretty much the only thing I ever wanted to try. So, my parents signed me up for hockey and we got my gear and then off we went to my very first practice; which also happened to be my very first time on hockey skates. So, here I am, this tiny five-year old girl out on the ice for the very first time with mainly all boys who had been skating for at least a year or more. Well, I felt pretty lost and what made it even worse was that the first two steps I took onto the ice… I fell and well let’s just say it wasn’t pretty. My stick flew, my gloves flew and yeah I was very embarrassed and very shaken up. Just as I started to cry and try to gather my stuff, one of the coaches came over, grabbed my stuff and pulled me to my feet. He told me “it’s okay we’ll go over here and have some fun” or something to that detail basically making me feel like I wasn’t totally alone. That moment right there was pretty much the reason I even gave hockey a second chance. He dusted me off and put me right back on my feet again and off I went. He helped me get the hang of things and just like that I fell in love with hockey… no matter how many times I fell because I knew all’s I had to do was get right back up. I also made quite a few friends despite being one of the few girls on the whole ice. We had different age groups practice at the same time so there were quite a few youngsters on the ice at one time. As the years went by I noticed something, everyone thinks that boys and girls can’t play sports together. Well when you have high schoolers together that may be the case but when you have a bunch of kids around the age of 8 or younger there really isn’t an issue at all, at least with the kids. The parents are what make the issue, to the kids it doesn’t really matter as long as they are nice. I made a lot of friends whose parents didn’t really like that I played hockey with their boys…but myself and the few other girls continued to play despite what some parents thought. At the time I really didn’t understand what the big deal was and to be honest, I’m still not really sure what the big deal is. Let little kids be little kids and have fun playing a sport, it shouldn’t matter their gender until they get to the age where physicality becomes involved, then separate but before then.. just let them have fun and make friends.

Update

So.. it’s been a little while once again. I apologize for any of you that try to read all that I post. My computer situation is still iffy and it just hasn’t been easy lately. I have been picking up a lot of extra hours at work so I can make some more money but as I said it’s not easy. So as I said previously I was going to do an update on the Wild… well the biggest concern I have for them currently is their goalie situation. They really have no idea who they are going to make their starter, which is not a bad thing because other teams will be left guessing but that is a difficult situation for the players on the Wild to know who is going to be behind them. They are professionals and can play with pretty much any other player but it has been seen that players play differently with different goalies because they have different styles and how they like to handle the puck. Some goalies stay in the net when the puck comes near and some go for it to get it out of the zone. The Wild have typically always had a good goalie in net no matter who they choose so I’m not really worried but it is something to pay attention to. Harding will more than likely not be the starter but I guarantee if he can stay healthy he will get some ice time because despite his MS he is still one heck of a goaltender. Backstrom can still make incredible stops but he is getting close to the end of his career with all the surgeries and issues he has had lately. That leaves the rookies and well anything goes with them.. but as we’ve seen in the past, they are pretty good most of the time. I’m more excited for the season then worried because it’s the Wild, they may struggle at times but they never give up and they always play good, clean hockey which is what I like to see. I will add more updates when I can and as always.. hockey rocks!