Saturday, 11 September 2010

Calder Trophy Candidate

I spent most of the day wandering around Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas. I have to admit that I hadn't heard of this facility before I was invited to this conference, but I come away from Moody Gardens with an extreme appreciation for the work they are doing there. Since I was on the road and off the grid, I am pleased to turn the site over to a good friend, a die-hard Blackhawks fan, and a true sports enthusiast in James Huening. Some of you may recognize James from his poll work on Uni Watch Blog, and you'll find one of those on here as well. However, James has an interesting topic that he's bringing to light today, and one that may hit home if you're considering a change in your "weekend warrior" sports.

As stated above, James is a die-hard Blackhawks fan, has a deep appreciation for stripes in hockey, and resembles an older Patrick Kane. Much like Kane in the image above, James is looking for a breakout first season as he starts his newly-chosen sporting life in motion! Here's James with the details!

A couple months ago, I was at my son's hockey practice waiting for him to come off the ice when one of the coaches came over and complimented me on my Canadiens "barber pole" throwback jersey.

We got to talking and he asked me if I ever played. I told him that I played plenty as a kid, but it was the pond/street variety. I've never played any type of organized hockey with, y'know, actual equipment.

I always wanted to, but my mother wouldn't go for it. She had a friend with a kid who was a few years older than me (same birthday, as a matter of fact) and he played hockey. Our neighbors were the quintessential "hockey family". Suffice it to say Mom was well aware of the financial and time commitments involved.

But I digress. Coach then mentioned that they offer an introductory class for adults and suggested that I sign up for it. My initial reaction was to jump at the chance, but then reality started to hit me.

The first thing that popped into my mind was the fact that I'm a lousy skater. Coach assured me that as long as I can move around reasonably well (I don't need to hang onto the boards for support) I'll get along OK. And obviously, skating skills will be a point of emphasis in the class.

Next, I'm pretty old. I asked if it's going to be all high schoolers and college-age "adults" signing up. I was told that it's a mix of ages and that there will, in fact, be some folks pushing 40 (and beyond) just like me. A good portion of the enrollees are parents who have kids in the youth hockey program.

OK, sounds good. I guess this might be doable.

Oh, wait. I don't have any equipment. "Yeah, you're on your own there." Indeed...

Fast-forward a few weeks. I decided that if I'm really going to sign up, I'd better make sure I can actually skate halfway competently. After all, I haven't laced up a pair of skates of any kind (ice or roller) in probably 20 years. So I went to one of the local rinks during a public skate session, rented a pair of skates and took to the ice. To my surprise, I wasn't as bad as I remembered being. In fact, I didn't even fall until about the 45-minute mark. In total, I fell three times. And I'm blaming the first two on the fact that the ice was choppy, I was wearing figure skates and those little teeth at the front of the blades got caught in some of the rough patches. I don't know what happened the third time. I was coming off the ice, too.

So one hurdle was out of the way, but I had another other issue to address: equipment. I headed to Play-It-Again Sports to look for some gear. I wanted to get as much used equipment as possible. Pretty much everything but the helmet -- call me crazy, but I'd prefer a new one of those.

Except for the elbow pads (I had to buy new ones), I was able to find a decent-condition used pair of everything I was looking for. Total cost was about $200 - not too shabby.

I went out again the other day to put the new skates to the test. They'll do the job. The ice was much smoother this time, too. I even tried out a little backwards skating (emphasis on "a little").

I think I'm ready for this. What say you, dear HBIC reader? Am I crazy or should I give it a shot (or maybe somewhere in the middle)? You can answer that in the comments and/or the poll that's provided.

I promise not to wear the IU warmup pants or Brooklyn Dodgers cap... at least not on the ice.

If you happen to get an error page when voting, click here to go to the poll page on Poll Daddy just to ensure your vote gets through.

Now, HBIC is thrilled with James' decision to embark on a hockey career hobby, and I've asked James to provide regular updates providing he puts his blades to the ice. With your help on the poll, you can help in making James a regular contributor as you read about his victories and pitfalls this season. I think this is a wonderful opportunity not only for James, but also for his kids, his family, and this blog.

Help James out by voting in the poll above! And all comments can be answered by James on here as well, so leave him some words of encouragement as he looks to capture the Calder Trophy this season!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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