My Goodbye Letter to Hockey

I never thought the time would come.

On Sunday, I took off my jersey and untied my skates for the last time. Sure, there will be beer leagues and drop-ins, but it will never be the same. 

Throughout the last 20 years of my life, I dedicated my life to hockey. Some of my first memories growing up are roller blading around my garage at my old house in Traverse City, Michigan, making up situations in my head. We all did it. It’s the championship game in overtime, and the puck is on your stick.

I remember sitting on my Dad’s lap and watching Pittsburgh Penguins games with him. He would occasionally have a rum and Pepsi with him in a big glass, and when he’d jokingly offer me a sip, I always forgot there was booze in it and would take a drink anyway, only to spit it out in disgust.

I met my first friends through hockey, many of whom I still keep in contact with to this day. There’s something about the game that creates untouchable bonds between a group of people. Bonds that distance doesn’t break, which is something so rare.

Looking back, I was pretty lucky with all the things I got to experience. I got to be a captain in high school, juniors and college; I broke scoring records; I was first-team all-state twice; I got to play competitively until I was 23 years old.

However, there is no accomplishment that begins with the letter “I” that will ever come close to what I will miss most about playing hockey. One thing you learn early in hockey, is how much more important “we” is than “I.” The things I will miss most aren’t scoring goals, big hits and back-door feeds. I’m going to miss the locker room, the road trips, the stories, the chirps, the parties, the heads that turn when everyone walks into the bar together, and just the overall atmosphere that is created when a team is clicking on all cylinders.

I did it for the story” lives deep inside many of us.

There is something to be said about hockey players. We’re a breed unlike any other, and it may be cliché, but the only way to understand it is if you have been a part of it. It’s never just a team, it’s a family. You will fight with your family, but when it comes down to it there isn’t a thing in the world you wouldn’t do to look after them.

Hockey has taught me more about life than anything else on this planet. You learn about discipline, courage, toughness, teamwork and communication, but most importantly it was the first aspect of life that will make you look at yourself in the mirror and ask, “how far am I willing to go? How far am I willing to push for what I want?”

On the ice, as in life, the person who is rewarded is the person who scratches and claws the farthest.

While the amount of turmoil I went through growing up pales in comparison to many others, the ice was always my therapy. You can’t ever skate away from your problems, but you can at least avoid them for the hour or two you are at the rink. When you step on the ice, life is perfect and all your problems have been resolved for the time being.

There’s a reason why it’s much easier to go to the rink at 5 a.m. than it is for work or school.

When life gave me adversity, hockey was my counseling. Watching my Mom go through breast cancer treatment when I was in high school wasn’t easy. Most of the time, I didn’t know how to act or what to say. I was a stubborn kid who refused to accept what was happening. But when I was on the ice playing in front of her, I always knew where she was. After games, she was always the first to greet me. Win or lose, she didn’t care. She knew I was happy. 

During those moments at the rink, nothing was wrong. 

While we all chased the dream growing up, there’s a reason why so many of our relationships fail. We’ve already fallen in love with the game because we know it’s something that will never leave us.

Hockey never cheats on you; Hockey never gets divorced; Hockey never dies. There is always a fresh sheet of ice somewhere. There is always a net to be sniped, and that first deep breath of cold air when stepping onto the ice is a feeling that can’t be topped.

Without hockey, my life would mean little. Without the people I’ve met through hockey, my life would mean nothing.

So after 20 years, it kills me to say goodbye. Thank you for everything you’ve given me, I will always be grateful. You’ve taught me more about myself and about life than I could have ever imagined.

To those still in action, keep chasing your dream. Keep bettering yourself. But most importantly, enjoy the ride and don’t miss a moment.

My career may be over, but the memories will last forever.

Shane Darrow is a Graduate student studying Journalism at Ohio University. He is currently an NHL writer for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter @ShaneDarrow.

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This picture means the most to me. Pointing to Johnny after beating Alpens in OT. RIP buddy.
This picture means the most to me. Pointing to Johnny after beating Alpena in OT. RIP buddy.

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231 thoughts on “My Goodbye Letter to Hockey

  1. This is amazing Shane. I have been so proud of you all of these years. I will never forget when your team won States. One of the happiest of moments of your life I’m sure – and mine. I love you. Aunt Jana

  2. Shane, this is wonderful! Your writing is beautifully sentimental in this piece. The pictures are great. I miss you!

  3. +This was an awesome depiction of what hockey life meant to me as well. Great piece. I’ve been out for 5 years, and this letter brought me right back to the glory days. Nice work.

  4. From an aussie hockey player who has a 10 yr old playing, thank you for these words. I will be getting him to read it so he can appreciate every minute of his chosen sport.

  5. I too am a hockey mom taking our son to 5am practice hockey is the love of my sons life and soon he will have a son to pass on that love to. You are right in everything well said

  6. What a great story! As a Mom of a hockey player that is just leaving college, and seeing what options he may have as to play further or not makes me understand his true passion for the game! Thank You for the story!

  7. Great letter, as a hockey mom I can relate…I cried when reading this. My son is a sophomore and has played since he was four…they grow up so fast….thank you for this.

  8. Shane, you are an amazing, accomplished young man. Whatever hockey has given you in life learning, values and commitment, you have given to hockey and your teammates. I am very happy and proud to have been witness to you and your hockey career….

  9. Great article and good to hear from someone from my hometown of TC. Glad you had the opportunities. I have had an on and off affair with hockey for 40 years and I have a lot to go. Sorry your career is over but another chapter is just beginning. One of my favorite times was winning the Nashville Adult Inline Championships. We were like a bunch of kids out there jumping around like it was the Stanley Cup. You have more of those to come.

  10. Thank you for a great article. I watched 2 grandchildren play hockey for over 15 years, spending my weekends at games. This article warms my heart..and brings back many memories. Thanks again.

  11. Your words “Hockey was my Counseling” are spot on for describing what so many youth hockey, hiigh school, and college players have felt .
    I am the professional counselor who suggested to them that through playing the sport they love they would strengthen their ability to make it through their bad times.
    I’m also a hockey Mom, and now
    Grand mom who has spent as much time at hockey rinks as NHL players
    cheering for my children as they practice and play and now my grandchildren.
    Thank you for your eloquent,heart
    felt Goodbye to Hockey.
    Your gift of writing is now our counseling!!!

  12. Im a hockey mom & this was an awesome article. My son started playing roller hockey. Then my nephew got him in ice hockey. My son then played 2yrs of jr hockey, now at 21yrs old in college finishing his 1st year. He absolutely loves the college & his team. So im happy he is getting both now. Got a scholarship for his education to keep following his dream. Not sure where it will take him, but all you wrote being so true. He has made unbelievable friendships through the last 12yrs. I have alot to be thankful for. He might not play in the NHL but he has alot to be thankful for too. Thank you for your awesome article !!!!

  13. Very well written. As a mother, it is also hard to say goodbye to hockey as well. I am very well aware of how much hockey has meant to my son. I am also thankful that he has made life long friends too. Hockey players are definitely a “breed of their own.”

  14. You are so right on so many points. I describe hockey as my first love and my everlasting love. It was always there for me during the most turbulent of times. Still is!

  15. I love this. I am currently working on my 2nd grandson’s high school hockey scrapbook. I was looking for something about the journey and I found a bikers patch that says ” It is not about the the destination, but the journey.” It has been a wonderful ride for him.I think it captures what you are saying..Hockey has given us great family time and I hate to see it end.Your article will be at the end of the book. Thank you.

  16. Great article. I played for Toledo from 2010-2013 until I graduated last spring. It was always a tight game when we played you guys and we all brought out the best hockey in one another. Not only do I remember you as a great hockey player, but you were also a fun guy to play against. Congratulations on a great career and best of luck in the future.

  17. The happiest times I have ever experienced have been based around Hockey, and the happiest of those are the times I have spent on ice with my children! 44 years now and looking forward to the next 44!

  18. Amazing article man! I never got to share that camaraderie with many of my team, but that feeling of stepping onto the ice and working together for better or worse is like nothing else. It still pumps me up to just walk into a rink and to have all those old feelings and smells wash over me.

  19. Well said Shane! You hit on many points that took me through time… countless games and practices and I loved every moment watching my boys and daughter experience the hockey way of life. We traveled to places that are not the typical “vacations” and yet we came and enjoyed so much more because as you said we were with our hockey family. Like you, we’ve had more than our share of bumps; and I know that we are fortunate to have had hockey in our lives to persevere through these times and come out better prepared for what the future holds. Thank you and best of luck in your endeavors!

  20. Shane, Thank you for your thoughts. While I am not a hockey player [my brother was, though that’s how I learnt how to skate] this is a wonderful testament to and of youth sports. Having been a youth football coach for my son’s Pop Warner team, I share many of your feeling. Steven

  21. Not going to lie…this made me cry. I’m a hockey mom who has carted my sons around for hockey since 1996 and loved every moment of it. My youngest son is graduating this year and is about to be done with his high school hockey career. It does feel like a part of me is going to be missing when this time in my life comes to a complete and abrupt halt. I’m thankful for so many memories with our hockey family. Thank you for putting into words what I could not possibly say out loud. My emotions get the best of me 🙂

    Jo

  22. This is amazing. I read this and as fellow hockey player for 15 yrs same rankings junior, trave,l and college and this my life in a nut she’ll all I had to do it just plug me in where it was you and replace your divesting story about your mother with my loss in my life my big sister . Two weeks ago I played my last college game in the campionahip serving as team captain the last 2 years and we won which is amazing to way to end my senior year and my long road of hockey . But honestly it did not hit me all things I will miss most in life until I read your story and I just wanted to say thank you!
    One hockey player to another
    Best of luck!

  23. this is article is simply awesome. I have been playing since the age of 5 and I am now 40 and still playing as often as possible in the beer leagues you mention above. I have three boys ages 10, 9 and 6 and they are all playing. I am trying to instill in them all of the great and important life lessons the game of hockey teaches us, it is in their blood. Thank you for this, I have shared it with many of my close friends whom I have met because of the greatest sport in the world.

  24. Loved this!! Any of my kids could have written it including the cancer part. I’m sure it was “counseling” to them too. Thank you for so eloquently stating what so many hockey players feel. I love that this sport will stay with them forever!!

  25. You are right, hockey is family. My son has been playing since he was 5, he will be a senior in HS next year. I am hoping he continues into hockey. I dread the day he no longer plays.
    Why does hockey have to be a goodbye? A lot of teams need a good coach. Your love and dedication to the sport will certainly touch the loves of small hockey children.

  26. Shane, I’m so proud to say that they are others that look at hockey the same way I have been for 46 years. Yesth it is a life all of it’s own, and the bond created with all of those who play(ed). I am now 51 years young, and my goal is to die on the ice.
    Some of my greatest moments were to play with my Dad in the senior league when I graduated high school. Those 8 years playing with him taught me more than anything else about life. We were not great players in the view of others, though we were great in playing as teams. When the slower player on the other team needed the puck, Dad showed me how to include them… like actually give them the play to go in on our goalie. That my friend is greatness to be a part of, and the others soon realized what happened.
    I then moved to Oregon for 24 years, and played every year with hundreds of others. I was an respected player because of how I felt about the game, and showed it through my playing of gentlemen style. Even after 2 ACL repairs, I am blessed or driven to keep playing.
    I am now back home, and the players are still playing the same way my Dad did.
    Beautifully written about the game we endear so much!
    I wish you well, and from 1 brother to another, enjoy every skate time flawlessly soaring around with a smile in your heart, and wearing the biggest on your face!
    Jeff

  27. Soo many relate to this. We also have soo many great friends and many wonderful memories from hockey for over 16 years w our son, Derek Makimaa from Swartz Creek, Michigan. I got tears running down my cheeks. I said I am soo proud of you, Derek. I told him that as far as I am concerned he already made the NHL and he already won the Stanley Cup in my book. I am telling him…. It is ok if he wants to quit or …… How far does he want to scratch n claw til he is finally where he wants to be? Thank you Shane for one of the greatest letters. All should read this. God Bless You in your life. Don’t forget all you learned. Success is in you from being on teams and being taught by soo many teachers of life through hockey! Kim Makimaa Makimaa@aol.com

  28. Shane your Publishing was an awe inspiring reading….I understand where all of this is coming from I have had the privilege and the joy of watching all you young men grow up and move on to other challenges it has been my privilege to know you and I wish you the best of luck in all your new endeavors I remain in friendship & LOVE your hockey gram..tcmi

  29. Great story bro! It really took me back to my back to back championships!! Thank u for writing this im sure millions can relate!!!

  30. Great story! I was a hockey player (back in the late 60’s when a girl hockey player was rare), a hockey coach, and most importantly, a hockey mom! When my sons finished their competitive careers…pro for one, college for the other, it left a gaping hole in my life. While it was hard on them, in some respects, it was harder on me. They made the choices to end their competitive hockey lives, and both still play men’s league. But, I had nothing to replace the joy of watching my boys play, the camaraderie of the other parents, the fun of traveling. I always tell people that hockey is a special sport with special people. My boys played other sports, but I never witnessed the same closeness as with our hockey families. I wouldn’t trade all those years for anything. They were priceless! I am still a hockey fan, but it isn’t personal anymore. I guess I will hope for grandkids and that they will want to play the greatest game on earth! 😉

  31. I am a hockey mom, a hockey coach and a player. I am 53. Hockey has been such a big part of my life and I can relate to all that you have said – except good bye. Through the years, I watched my sons play including one at the World Games in Austria, through high school, juniors in Toledo; the American West Hockey League, 4 yrs of College (3 as the captain) and now as a Jr. Coach. I played on a travel team that went to Womens USA Hockey Nationals in California (I live in Maine). Now I played just in the rec league. I coached mites for a number of years and last year I started teaching my grandson how to skate. The hockey passion has stayed inside of me, I will be sad when I can no longer play but I will somehow stay in hockey and will never say goodbye.

  32. Excellent letter. I can relate to everything you wrote. Playing Hockey from Pee Wee through College was a great life changing experience. One that will stay with me my entire life.

  33. Beautiful sentiments, Shane. This is exactly the reason my 5 year old son and 17 year old brother are in hockey – my daughter played for a while and still does occasionally too. Whether or not they wind up with hockey careers – the take-aways you have gotten is what I hope they are able to walk away with whenever that day may come!

  34. Hopefully someday you will have children and will continue “watching” your dreams and help develop theirs. You will find out that their dreams are better than your own. Thanks for sharing your story!

  35. Great read.

    Obviously, I’ve never met you nor played competively at your level, but the sentiment you expressed is quite familiar to me as I am sure it is to thousands of other hockey players young and old, (all of us getting older.) Its a fair statment to say that everythig I ever needed to know, I learned playing hockey or on the ice rink. Once a hockey player, always a hockey player. It stays in your blood.

    FYI: as a 52 yr. old still playing hockey (if what i do on the ice can still be considered playing hockey) you need not say “goodbye” Just consider it as a change of leagues, and the ones you’ll play in from now on arent as good as the ones you played in before. But most of the things you mention can still be found in beer leagues and tournaments.because it all flows from that comradery that can only be found amongst hockey players who skate on the same patch of ice!

    Keep playing until you can’t anymore.

    .

  36. Oh honey, you aren’t saying goodbye to hockey. Your relationship with it is just evolving as most relationships do. You will go on to play men’s league hockey. Maybe coach some younger teams and then eventually introduce your a new girlfriend or wife to the sport. Then you’ll have children and build rinks in your backyard, teach them to skate and watch someone else develop a love for the game.

  37. I tore my acl my last season of playing college hockey, this is truly touching. Beautifully written, hockey really is the best sport around. As a fellow hockey player I know how you feel.

  38. I stumbled across your letter and although I can appreciate your thoughts however you are selling the game short. There is no reason to ever say good bye to the game, you simply enter a new chapter of your hockey life.

    At 60 years old I still skate 3 times a week, we have played in national tournaments, traveled throughout Europe playing hockey and enjoy the game more today than I did playing “competitive” hockey.

    Stay involved, coach, volunteer , do whatever you can to help promote the game. As much as you have learned and grown from the game , trust me it has much more to give

    Enjoy and you never have to say good bye

  39. I grew up in an ice rink with my two big brothers, and I fell in love with the game enough to quit figure skating and take up hockey. Like so many other comments on here, this article brought back so many great memories that I forget once in a while. Thank you for sharing this, it’s so hard to end a career. I just ended my volleyball career after graduating college, and it’s just not the same!

  40. It doesn’t have to be over. There is always the next generation who needs your leadership and knowledge to give them the same experiences you had in the sport. Give back to the sport that gave you so much. Coach, referee, mentor…There are many opportunities to see the game through a youngsters eyes and make you young again.

    1. 100% agree….. Coaching is the next great step to stay involved. Do it right though… take classes on “how” to coach… great players have to learn how to become great teachers.

  41. Thank you Shane for sharing your career story. My granddaughter “was” a hockey goalie.
    She had to have an operation on knee for a torn meniscus. Doctor, who did operation was also a goalie, told her she should NOT ever play as a goalie again. She is not strong enough skater to skate out. I am hoping that your story inspires her so that she can push through her disappointment and give her the will to possibly try her game again. She WAS good and was getting stronger at her game before this happened. Do you have any advice for her.

    1. As a former goalie myself with bad knees, it doesn’t matter how weak of a skater she may be, get out there and do it. Strength comes with practice and happiness comes with being on the ice. I hung up my pads 15 years ago, and I still skate every chance I get.

    2. As a former goalie with horrible knees myself, tell her to just get out there and skate. Strength comes from practice. Happiness comes from being on the ice. If she loves it, don’t give it up no matter what.

    3. Please consider getting yourself a NEW doctor! I have been playing goalie for 47 years (I’m 54 now) and I’ve had five knee surgeries including three for meniscus and one for ACL repair! If she is willing to work at her therapy, there is absolutely NO reason she can’t still tend the nets. And if you like, I’ll send you MY doctor’s name and number and she can get a second opinion. Hockey is a huge part of my life and I dread the day I can’t play anymore. Good luck!

  42. My college hockey career just ended too and what you wrote is exactly how I feel. Thanks for writing it so beautifully!

  43. I’m so glad that you chased your dream, and kept on chasing! It will give you so much more now than you’ll know! You’ll want the ice, but you won’t NEED it! You’ve learned well from being a “WE”, something not everyone learns or experiences. Good luck on your future endeavors!
    Randi

  44. What a great story, I am a parent of two boys finishing there college playing days with in the next month and I can not imagine what they are feeling now. They have played this sport for 20 years like you and its not only about the game its about the friends that are your brothers for a life time. Thanks again for an amazing article!.

  45. I played football, baseball and hockey growing up. Football and hockey in college. I am 63 years old and I am still playing hockey but not football and baseball…one never stops playing hockey…maybe not as competitive but good city beer leagues and tourneys all over the US and Canada…the Pacific Cup in Victoria, BC has 144 teams…

  46. Outstanding post. I played for 25 years or so as well. Highs and lows that ended with a chronic back problem as I entered D1 college. I am now coaching my 6 year old. I can’t wait to read this to him.

  47. I played hockey, football and baseball growing up…hockey and football in college. I am 63 y.o. and don’t play football or baseball anymore but still play hockey. There aren’t any old-timer leagues around here, so I still play in city beer leagues and drop ins with the young bucks but the real fun are at old timer tourneys (Snoopy tourney in Santa Rosa, CA. or The Pacific Cup in Victoria, BC with 144 teams.) Lots of drinking and hockey! Don’t feel it is the end…it is the beginning of a new phase of your hockey career. Just don’t stop playing…hockey is the ultimate social network…you move to a new town and start playing hockey and you got a bunch of new friends after the first game or drop in.

    1. A youngster at 63! Good..keep skating. Even though I now have the speed and mobility of a parade float I’m looking forward to another Snoopy tournament and skate with the dinosaurs in the 75+ division including Mark Sertich who is 92. He still has the hands and smarts.
      (Mark has been a regular at Snoopy for years so I bet you know him)
      Talk about lifelong connections. I ran into a couple of players from my OHA days in the 50’s.
      Another beer please!

  48. Never say goodbye to something you love. Those things you cherish in the game are still there and you can find them in any league, any position, any level. I still do. Just because you aren’t playing for a college or for a trophy anymore doesn’t mean your career is over.

  49. Outstanding read and incredibly touching. I will have my son (Bantam Minor) read this tonight ahead of our final weekend of hockey this season. Thank you.

  50. Next phase playing in the Beer Leagues, then in the Oldtimers Leagues, and when you’re nearly sixty,like I am and still playing with the guys you grew up with, you can feel the love!

  51. Shane-
    These can only be the words of a special young man. I know that going forward you will be successful in anything you undertake. May all good things come to you. Never stop dreaming.

  52. Congrats on the first phase of your hockey life. The things you have learned will last you a lifetime. But the game will never leave you and if you get the chance to coach you’ll see it all again through the eyes of your players, but this time with the understanding of what it all means and the ability to help others embrace it as you did. Coaching can be a greater challenge than playing and your understanding of the true spirit of the game is very valuable to foster similar experiences for young players. At some point, pay it forward, you’ll be glad you did!

  53. This game gave you so much growing up. Now you’re grown, now you coach. You pass on the love of the game and share it with the next generation. It’s different but the game still offers much fulfillment.

  54. Thanks for sharing this…..like so many who have commented….stirred wonderful memories of one passion that united our whole family and still does today!

  55. Wonderful letter….you obviously benefited from all that hockey has to offer. My son is 15 & has played since he was 5…he still has a couple of years to play & I Love & enjoy every minute of it….I plan on saving your letter & giving it to him when he is done …Thank You

  56. That was well written I’ve been a coach for 16 years. Coaching my son high school and travel now its coming to an end. This brings back all the memories.all the time I’ve spent I would not trade that for anything. That was awesome good luck with your future.

  57. Wow brother. What an amazing story. I went through it with soccer myself. And now, taking my son on his journey through sports, has made me realize it’s never over. I hope you continue writting the next chapter and give back to the hockey youth all of your knowledge. You have much to share. Teach them…

  58. im rob spuller and if you are who i think you are we have definitely played each other growing up. Luke stricker was my best d partner and mitch snider and i were best friends in from mites up to pee wees. I was proud to hear alot of guys from our age bracket who went to play in juniors and college because i once skated with or toe to toe with them. i would like to say that this was the most influential and dead on expression on what its like to be a retired competitive player. you hit every up and down point about hanging up the gloves. pick up is no where near the same, and since my last season ive skated a hand full of times. but when my blades hit the ice, cutting it up, wind in your face puck on your stick, its the most free i have ever been. lets hear it for the 90’s of the nihl, district 7,

  59. You came at hockey from the opposite angle from me – you grew up with it, are good at it, entertained pro aspirations. Good for all that! I’m a middle-aged wannabe who came late to the game, can never get the skill that you only learn while young, can only aspire to beer league and cheering on my kids. But us wannabes also get really passionate about hockey. I’ll drive long distances to play, study the game to try to get better, skate 4 nights a week, etc. While your hockey career may be over, I hope you come back to the game, play for fun into your old age, and as someone else said, introduce your kids to it, coach youth teams, and in other ways use your advantages to foster the game. Because it’s still a family, whether you’re an all-star or an old wannabe or a youth hockey parent.

  60. I sure know what you mean , I first started on a small pond near my home . Then to a rink, never played during school but after I got back from Nam. I started to play in a men s league at the new rink in my town I played for the next 25 years until I needed a knee replacement. but my son plays my Grandsons play and I wouldn’t miss their games for anything. Hockey is still my life even though I can’t play I can still enjoy it through the kids. Thanks for reminding me of the good times .

  61. Shane, our 21year old daughter posted your letter to hockey on her Facebook page along with a letter to my wife, our son and I, thanking us for supporting her and our son setting a good example for her. Only hockey families and players know what you are speaking about. It brings back so many great memories of us watching our two children playing the game we and they love. Neither one played past high school but both play in pickup leagues. Our son plays D and our daughter is a goalie, she actually played in high school against future Olympian Alex Carpenter. We miss seeing them play on a regular basis, but still try to watch them play whenever we can.

    I wanted to let you know that we have a connection. Both our mothers battled breast cancer, unfortunately my mother lost her battle 4 months before I graduated. Even during this toughest time in my life, my hockey family was there for me. Our team had upset the number one team in the league, beating them on their home ice. It was Billerica. MA first home loss in over 3 years. One of my teammates parents owned a restaurant and had the whole team over to celebrate and watch the Patriots play on the big screen. Even though my mother was in the hospital very ill my father insisted I join my teammates at the restaurant. Sure enough, while watching the game, the phone call came that my mother had passed. I was devastated but my teammates supported me.
    The whole team came to her wake and funeral wearing their uniform shirts. My coach invited to be at the game that night, although I didn’t think I should, my father thought it would be good for me.
    My teammates and fans gave me a nice welcome as I skated on the ice during warm ups. At the start of the third period, my coach pointed to me and said “your in”. As I skated to my net, I received a warm applause, and although I only had to make a handful of saves, I know the more important thing was I was with my hockey family and my mother was watching me from above.
    I apologize for going on, but it brought back wonderful memories for me and my family after reading your story.
    God bless and good luck in your future endeavors.
    Tony Time
    Belmont, NH

  62. Shane, very nice tribute to your live of hockey and the transition in life your making. Wonderful sense of gratitude & life lessons that will serve you on the remainder of your journey. I remember you fondly from the times Jacob played with you in the GTHA, and the many years I followed the high school hockey. I wish you many of Gods Blessings as you transition on in a sucessful career of your choosing. Thank you for sharing your “Goodbye”❤️

  63. These are the most beautiful words and thoughts I’ve ever seen come out of a hockey boys mind. Not only does that describe you, but it has described everyone that fell in love and had the privilege of hitting a little round black piece of rubber around a sheet of ice. Amazingly written 🙂

  64. What a great story, my boy is in his journey right now playing mites. He feels the same way even at this early stage.

  65. Your observations of hockey show a above average observation of your adventure. I taught a class for 6 years for Rosemount High School and St Olaf College called Mind Unlimited Peak Athletic Adventure. It was started because they had 5 high school hockey players flunking out of high school. You cannot play if you cannot pass in school. Well, i discovered that they believed they were “stupid hockey” players and have heard that over and over for 10 years. The result of the class was that 86.5% became A or B honor roll students, they were convinced that they did posses a great memory and they did great in hockey. My sons are know, now 46 and 48 and are still playing adult hockey, are healthy and good and are extremely successful in parenting, business and in life. I told my classes that hockey is a loser for most people as over 95% fail because they do not even make the high school team and even fewer go to college. The real learning experience is for you to choose thoughts that allow you to use your greatest tool you have, which is your brain and your mind. You need to adapt that tool so you become a better father, a better spouse, a more healthy person, open a business and be a great American. Yes, you have opened the door and your real learning is about to begin. Yes, it is easier to re direct your brain and mind when you apply it toward something that your are passionate and interested in. Your real challenge is to take the good skills you demonstrated when you were in the “ZONE’ those times that your tuned out your past worries and problems to focus on the NOW. Then adapt that process to other areas of your life. It is all a good learning adventure. DCSundberg@gmail.com or MindUnlimited888.com.

  66. I don’t understand why you are saying good-bye to hockey? What am I missing on your blog? Where you seriously injured? If you still have your legs and health there is no reason to say good-bye. If all else fails there is always minor hockey somewhere looking for a coach and inspiration. You sound like an alright kinda guy but maybe a little spoiled because you didn’t end up where you thought you should be.

  67. The game never leaves you 100%, because of the relationships you form in it. I was part of an NCAA championship and nothing in life feels the way that did. I tell student athletes that all the time. Since that championship, I have won multiple powerlifting titles and hold state and world records but I will say without reservation, I would give them all up if it meant I never was part of that hockey championship.

  68. Thank you for sharing this. As the baby sister of a hockey player, I spent my childhood in ice rinks. I currently have FIVE nephews who all share your love for the sport and everything that it brings and I found your story to be heartwarming. I even got chocked up a few times. For those of us who sit in the stands (not the crazy, over the top parents, but the rest of us normal folk) this is the experience we hope you each walk away with. I can’t say what kind of player you were, but you are a great writer. Keep up the good work!

  69. I was really glad to read your article and it warms my heart that this wonderful game has taught you the most important lessons that a life can offer. The rink is a classroom that brings out the best and the worst of each one of us. It takes us beyond the limitations that each of us put on ourselves. It shows us what is possible when we put others ahead of ourselves. The sum of the whole is always greater than output of the individuals. I have also used this arena to escape the shortcomings that life offered and some of my fondest memories were the drive to the rink on Saturday mornings with my two brothers. We were all two years apart so we all played in different leagues. We shared one set of gear and stick but we each had our own skates. I was the middle boy and the best of the three so the gear was damp when I got it but my older brother played in wet gear every game. My dad knew we all threw right in ball so he bought us a right stick but as it turned out, we all shot left. I had the best back hand in the league and scored both of my goals in my first season this way. I went on to play travel one year but we could not afford it so I became feared in the house leagues during Bantam and Midget. I played at the high school level in my graduation year and this was the pinnacle for every young boy in our village. My older brother was killed only three weeks earlier and the team and the season gave me an escape. It was my relief. When I read your story, it dawned on me that the only game my Dad missed that year was the night that we won the AAA title. A emergency at home prevented him from making that game and as it turned out we won. I missed letting him know that the sacrifices he made, allowed me the chance to be happy and forget about the hardship that we had been through. I would play again but he would never see me play as life never allowed him the chance to escape and enjoy the gifts of this game. He took his own life seven months later and it was only after I coached my own two boys and watched them progress through the ranks, that I truly appreciated what he had done for me. He had provided me with the opportunity to learn, lessons he could not teach, in a classroom he had never had the chance to enter, knowing full well that the lessons we would learn, would long out live even him.

    1. Thank you for your beautiful writing about your life, and thoughts. Glad to hear that this game of hockey has such affection on many people in which teaches us about life. may peace be with you.

  70. I know exactly how you feel – the locker room, the camaraderie, the breath of cold air, the competition, leaving your problems behind, the therapy, always a clean sheet somewhere, getting up before dawn with a smile on your face… the difference is I still have that and I never got the accolades you did – and I’m 47. The trophy may change, the crowds may diminish, but that’s never why you played, so stop standing there waving goodbye to everybody and suck it up, grab your gear and suit up. You’ve only got 50 or so years left to play and time’s a-wastin’.

  71. You don’t have to walk away. A lot of people put in many hours and dollars to make sure you were able to have that experience. Now it’s your turn to give back. Coach the tiny ones, with kindness, and teach them what you know. Volunteer with a local association – they always need coaches who have playing experience. And some day, if you are lucky, you will have the chance to help your own children live the dream. I do know. We had 2 sons who played from Termites through high school, and now have 4 grandchildren in youth leagues. You will have an entirely different perspective on what it takes to support kids in hockey. And it will teach you thankfulness for those who supported you.

  72. I never played, SMALL rural town. My children did. Boy and girl. Neither were “stars”. Big towns. Saw what you said in both of them. As they now approach 40, their former teammates
    are still some of their closest friends. Loved you article. Please, keep writing!
    Thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories to an aging hockey dad!

  73. That was a good story and I 100% understand your feeling of it being over. After college I took one year off and then I haven’t missed more than a few months here or there over the past 12yrs playing in beer leagues. Don’t discount the beer league. It is where I met some of my best friends, the best man in my wedding was my line mate for ten years. The best part of beer league is playing purely for the love of the game and nothing else. There’s no more worrying about being cut, or benched, or whatever. Just have fun!

  74. Thank you for sharing your hockey story!
    Our son 21 just hung up his skates a few Sundays ago 😦 We have spent 18 yrs and many hours with him at the rink.He finished playing Jr B for the amazing little town of Athens Ontario.Your story brings a lot of memories and a few tears!Watching him play his last game was heart breaking but we will all cherish the many hrs and the love for the game of hockey.
    Thank you for sharing

  75. Enjoyed your article…..the way u describe your feelings towards the game is no wonder when I saw the pics and the C on your jersey. …take care bro

  76. I am compelled to let you know that I am proud of you. Corny? Yes. Key word is compelled. 🙂 I am a hockey mom of 3 sons and a daughter…just winding up my 17th year of travelling over God’s frozen Earth. Family, life lessons, accomplishments, and failures, grit, determination, and courage.. it is a game of life. Hockey players are a breed unto themselves. Wishing you happiness and blessings as you transition through this phase…you will be fine….you already have all the tools to move forward. God Bless.

  77. Any hockey player can relate intimately with this story. My dad died when I was young and hockey was a great outlet to release and to mature. I only wish someone had read this to me when I was a freshman in HS and decided to take a job over playing sports. I’m going to steal this and read it to my kids if they ever contemplate quitting sports. Great stuff!

  78. Shane – your post resonated with me on many levels. I too remember when, in my early 20’s, I said good bye to hockey, though I didn’t have the maturity or eloquence to verbalize just why I was so sad about it. One thing I’ve learned though, is that the core aspects of what sets hockey apart – the family, the “we” vs. “I” both on and off the ice, the discipline and hard work, the fun – don’t have to go away when you stop playing competitively. I live in Boston and play with a bunch of guys, mostly from Canada, on a team called the Canucks and we embody those values every game, which is why we win our beer league most seasons. More significantly, I now derive joy from passing these values on to my kids’ teams as a coach. It is a beautiful game that teaches important life lessons and I am honored to be passing those on to the next generation. Thank you for your article.

  79. As the mother of two hockey player sons, and after reading your story, I am truly grateful for all the hours to and from and at the rink while they were growing up. They are now good men and giving back.

    1. My son started at 3 1/2 on the ice and skated through college and as an adult. It made him a better person and taught him the value of teamwork and friendship. The hours were tough on us as parents, but it was well worth it.

  80. This couldn’t be anymore right, I’m in grade 11 of high school and thinking next year is my last year of high school
    Hockey.. So this really does relate to everyone.

    1. dude keep up with playing puck no matter what stay with it you won’t regret it. Beer leagues after high school are what I live for every week and the people you meet through them are awesome! No one calls you a bender no ones puts anyone down it’s just pure fun and you’re able to share a bond with all different age groups. Its also a great way to network because you have a shared interest in hockey.

  81. As I read this with tears in my eyes, I think of my own 12 year old boy that shares this exact philosophy. Hockey is his dream, his passion, and his life and I don’t intend to miss one second. God bless ur mother 💗

  82. Thank you for sharing, my son is the captain on the Viewmont High School hockey team in Bountiful Utah. The just won the state championship in a triple overtime! It was the most rewarding thing I have ever experienced. As a parent of a hockey player the life we live is better because of the love of the sport, the fans, the families and the friendships that will last forever.

  83. Hockey, especially beer league hockey is unique because it has the one thing no other recreational sport can claim – the locker room. When you play softball, volleyball or soccer, you show up, put on your sites and play. But hockey gives you 20 minutes before and after each game where bonds are solidified.
    So don’t lament the end of your high level playing career. The fun is only just beginning.

    1. Steve Winter, is that you? Of Caravan fame? Tom Eyman here. Remember me? Still playing hockey, in northern NH/VT. So absolutely true about the locker room. My hockey buds and I are like blood brothers, and the locker room is where it has all been consolidated. All my best to you.

  84. As a grandmother of 5 guys who are playing hockey, this was truly a memorable letter. My oldest is his high school goalie, the next one is on the high school JV team, and then there are 3 more in their youth hockey teams, from Mites to Pee Wee. It takes a village to have kids in hockey, from early morning practices to games all over the state and beyond, God bless the parents and grandparents who provide the rides, hugs after wins and loses, and $$ for those extras at the hockey shops (not to mention breakfasts/lunches at the rink). It is a commitment for all who love the sport and those who play it. Thanks for your heartfelt words.

    1. I too am a Grandmother of three hockey players, 2 in college and one in mites. You are so right Bonnie. All the hidden expenses. But we all love the game and being a hockey family brings you close and together. We love it.

  85. You should be very proud of the man you have become!! Reading you letter brought tears to my eyes. Giving up a known for an unknown is tough, but I believe your parents gave you the knowledge to achieve great things in your life. Your hard work efforts will pay off, no matter what you will find ahead. We love you!!

  86. Thanks for sharing your love for the game. As I read it I got chills, choked up and felt some of the same thoughts through the years. Our son played hockey since he was 9 and still playing men’s league at age 27. He says he may have to give it up fulltime because of coaching commitments, but he is giving back to the “goalies”, his breed so that he will probably continue for a long time to come. We spent many family wkends bonding following his love and we love it too!!

  87. As a mother of two hockey players, and after reading this story I am very grateful of all the time to and from the rinks bonding in the car. I hope done day both my boys will give back what they take from this experience. Thank you for sharing your story.

  88. As a mother of four hockey players. I remember all the scrambling to get them to rink! But like you said our hockey family helped us out! Memories are priceless and I have many. Away tournaments the best. My sons all played Junior and won atlantic championships . I am a
    Proud hockey mom. They give back to committee by coaching referee . So proud of the men
    they have become ! Now have two grandsons playing ! It is so much fun reliving . Yahoo for
    Hockey

  89. As a mother to one hockey player(who now referees), and grandma to two others, I say, “Amen.”

  90. This will be my son at the end of this season. He is 22 yrs old and has been playing hockey since he was 3 yrs old, as well as his brother and sister! I too will miss the games, won or lost, the road trips, the hectic schedules and the get togethers. This letter puts everything on paper the hockey families feel when that last competitive game is played. I know I will shed a few tears!

  91. Great tribute to the game – but don’t give up on the game! Hanging them up competitively is not a good bye, it is a “what’s next?” You will be surprised how much of the same values that you have learned in the last 20 years, will come into the “beer league” games and potential men’s rec tourneys that lie ahead. As a Canadian kid who walked away from the game completely after my Junior career, I found a NEW love for sportsmanship, comraderie, and THE GAME when I finally laced back up and took a tour around the empty arena with my closest junior hockey game. The game never loved me as much as I loved it, but it sure feels like she is giving back now as I excitedly pack the gear up on a Friday night, tuck the wife an kids into bed, and head for my Stanley Cup. An hour of puck with les gars and a plethora of beverages and stories of houw good (or bad) we used to be. Onward – there is still lots of hockey to be played!

  92. Great article man. I really loved reffing your D2 games and appreciated the fact you’d never bitched at me despite all the offsides and icings I missed. Enjoy what you have left in Athens and good luck with the Bird Bowl.

  93. Man, you nailed it on the head with this article. Experiencing a lot of what you wrote about in this article brought back so many memories. Some call it an addiction to the past; chasing a dream. It’s exactly the opposite of chasing a dream, it’s remembering what sacrifices you had to make to achieve success in what I believe to be one of the most pure sports in history. Remembering all of the amazing people that helped you get there, stay there, succeed there and finally leave there.

  94. So well written. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I am much older than you but I know exactly what you are saying. I played at Uconn in the 70s, had a life altering back injury soon after graduating, came back after more than a decade to rediscover the game in the senior leagues..then I had a son who started skating when he was a year old. He’s now 23 and in the middle of his college experience..still playing. I dread the day when he has to say goodbye, but I also look forward to his “getting on with his life” career wise. I started writing about my experience as a player, ex-player, dad, coach, fan and ref in a while back…here is what I have written so far. I hope you enjoy some of this as much as I enjoyed your post! http://oldtimehockeyfornow.blogspot.com/2014/02/old-time-hockey-story-in-pictures.html

  95. I will be 82 in September and NHL hockey and Our WHL team still make it a great day when there is a hockey game. My brother brought me to a Hockey Game in Montreal when I was a kid and I can’t get enough of the game. Just read Bobby Orr’s book “my story” and I have autograph pictures of players from Jean Beiliveau, Gordie Howe, Guy Lafleur, Wayne Greatzgy Thank you and all the hockey players who have brought such joy to my life.

  96. My 8 yr old may not be the best player on his team, but the passion and love he has for the game are unmatched. Watching him give his all on the ice is priceless. He plays with all his heart. I wouldn’t trade the weekends of driving to different rinks for the world. Long live the hockey family!

  97. Sick letter, but I have some good news for you man, you mention beer league wont be the same…I’ve played JR hockey and beer league…if you get on the right team of beauties it can be even more fun then JR…with all the same aspects…beauties are beauties…the parties are just as wild…we had rookie parties, team meals, and back to back championships along with life long friends….

    It ain’t over, its just fucking starting!

  98. Great article! You say you took off your jersey for the last time, And it will never be the same?

    I can sense you love the game as much as anyone I know. But I want you to know no matter what level of hockey you reach or end up playing in, one thing is common. EVERYONE ends up in beer leagues and Pick ups. Because we just flat out love to play.

    No the competition might not be as good, or as skilled, but I can assure you, those locker room memories and “Team outings” to the bar will still happen, and there are plenty of memories still to be made.

    Take care and don’t be too bummed, because beer league is still fun! You’re career is only over until you hang up the skates for good.

  99. As a mum of a son who is playing his second season in the UK (he’s 9), I read this with tears… Hockey is “we”, never, “I”, I have met so many people, good people, whom I consider really good friends. Good luck for the future, but I guess you will always be part of the family, at games as a spectator, a coach?

  100. Great piece, Shane. You portrayed the game we love precisely and passionately. But, as a 56-year-old skater still playing in Chicago (but still rooting for my hometown Wings), I can tell you that you’re a long, long way from goodbye. In some ways, as I’m sure you’ll see, you’re only just getting started. Hope to see you on the ice some day. P.S. I’m a journalist, too–been doing that almost as long as hockey.

  101. Great letter Shane. You are spot on with one exception. You aren’t saying “Goodbye”, you are simply turning a page. Sure, it will be different, but Hockey will continue with for the rest of your life and the passion you have for the game won’t go away. You will continue to play in the beer leagues, you might coach and maybe you’ll have kids someday that you can introduce this great sport to. I’m 42, played HS, Prep and college hockey….I now play in the beer leagues and coach my 3 kids. Trust me when I tell you this…it is a thrill to see your kids love and play the game that you enjoyed some much. So for now, you have great memories for what you’ve done in hockey up until this point, but you have many more years to create new ones as well. I hope you stay close with the game because this sport needs people like you to continue to make it what it is. All the best to you!

  102. Thank you so much for sharing this. I am a senior in high school and my high school hockey season ended about two weeks ago. I was the only girl on the boys hockey team and made friendships with the boys that will last forever, they really became brothers to me. It has been really hard for me to grasp the fact that high school hockey is over. Though I will continue to play in college knowing that I won’t be with the boys anymore has made me extremely upset. It is really hard to go from being with your team every day of the feel to not seeing them anymore.Thank you for sharing your story and it made me realize even though I won’t be on a team with them I will always know that I have 25 brothers no matter what and that these memories we make with our hockey families will last a life time.

  103. Well written, but it is not over. Ten years after I hung them up I took them down again as my own boys followed the dream. One by one they left the ice to follow their own interest but I had been bitten again by the love of the game and laced them up once again. I am now 54 years old, living on Advil with swollen knees and bad shoulders and love the game even more. Everything I loved about the game when I was younger still exits with the old guys I compete against now. The humor, the antics and the stories are all there maybe even more than they were. The game may be different but the love and the thrills are still there, just at a slower pace.

  104. Being a hockey mom has been the best time of my life. It helped to bring my son and I much closer. I won’t trade the memories for anything. We have had the best group of hockey parents that still take time out to visit each other after 2 years. The one memory I will always carry with me is the “smell” I can watch a hockey game on t.v. and when they interview one of the players all I can think is “boy I bet he smells bad”…. I miss it everyday!

  105. played for 25 years, in the working world now still playing competitive senior to keep the dream alive, but university and junior days will never be rivaled. Reading this brought a tear to my eye and only the other beauty’s who have been through it or are going through it will understand. If your still going through the glory years enjoy every moment and don’t ever turn down having a good time when the time is right, because one day youll be me sitting here remenising about the glory days. God dam I love hockey.

  106. Believe me the love of the game never goes away. I turned 60 in January and still enjoy the game for all the same reasons mentioned previously. The friends you make over the years last forever, I quit playing competitive hockey when I was 28 years old, but got back into it as an “oldtimer” when I was 35 and have been playing ever since, Even after knee replacement surgery 2 years ago. Something about friendships, the exercise, the comraderie…the opportunity to forget all of life’s problems when you lace up the blades. People ask me why I still play, and my response is ” because I can”

  107. Great ode to the greatest sport on earth. As a hockey coach and player I hope you continue in the sport in some aspect or another. Even at my ripe old age of 51 the game is special and I have a lot to give back. As a coach there is a special feeling when you have the first sheet of ice in the morning, the rink is empty, lights are off and you know the rink is all yours as you prepare to take the ice with your team. Nothing like it. Stay close to the ice.

    You can leave hockey but hockey never leaves you! – Coach Trip

  108. Dude, after playing hockey and coaching hockey for over 40 years I can tell you. “You never leave hockey, and hockey never leaves you!

    Best game ever! PLAY ON!

    Bill Brush

  109. Shane what a great article and so,so very true. You will move on in life and remember all the great times in hockey and what it has taught you. By this article I can already see what this great game has done for you! Keep involved, keep playing if you can even if it is the ‘beer’ league and have fun. If you don’t mind I would like to post this onto our website http://www.ultimatehockeysource.com as this needs to be passed around!

  110. Thanks for your story! Im 62 and the game was a large part of my life! Playing ,coaching and raising 3 sons that played and loved the game. It has given me 2 sons that are now high school coaches! My knees are gone with elbows and hips and a fused neck. God I miss the hours after a game or practice just sitting around the locker room and talking with the guys! Until you lace”em up you don’t really know what this game is all about! Orr, Gretzky, Lemieux and even Reggie Dunlap would all say the same. We love the game but the people we met along the way are what makes it all so interesting and fulfilling! Hockey players make bonds that last a lifetime. The guys you play with or against are all brothers! Stitches, cuts, broken bones only slow you down for awhile and after a short time on the bench you seem to gather snuff strength to hop over the boards and do it all again! I to have hung”em up and even gave up my career as a broadcaster but just to have one more shift and to hear the crowd would be a dream come true. Its sad but my seasons are over but the friends and memories I made along the way will last forever!!!!

  111. What a great article. My son is playing his last year on a junior team and is getting ready to start playoffs tomorrow. Every friend he has in this world he met playing hockey. Playing hockey is the only thing that helped him get over his fathers death when he was 12. Thank you for sharing your story. Good luck to the Frederick Freeze MET team who will be facing the Philadelphia Revolution this weekend. My son and and I want his last season to last forever:)

  112. Great story and well written. If the fire is still burning, You should get into coaching and teaching youngsters. You would be a great mentor for a lot of young kids with your love and passion for the game.

  113. Couldnt have said it better myself.. every friend i have i met in hockey. Its givving me the best memories and i miss it everyday.

  114. I know exactly what you are going through. I am only 17 and a senior in high school and currently not playing anymore. last year we won states and ended up going to nationals in california. We lost in quarterfinals and that was the last game that i played ending with a good season record and having some new friends. it wasn’t anything like what i expected when it came summer time and no teams to play on. everytime somebody asks me if im still playing hockey i always give an answer saying im to old. meaning there is no teams around me that have 19u teams and my school is so small that there is not a hockey team. if i wanted to play 19u i would have to go clear way over to the otherside of the state. so pulling that jersey off and untieing my skates for the last time was in april of 2013 in california for nationals. hockey has brought me so many great memories and friends that i will never forget. i played with boys for my first 9 years of playing and hockey and for my last 3 years of playing i played with the girls. i started skating at the age of 3 and started playing hockey at the age of 4 and was unable to play at the age of 17. hockey is a sport that i will always love and will go back to in a heart beat. i missed out on all school events and missed out on hanging out with my friends all the time. my friends have stuck with me and are still there for me today. i got a boyfriend in june of 2012 and he had to experience the hockey life with me. he came to all my games that he could but in november of 2012 he was diagnosed with a brain tumor and wasn’t released from the hospital until december 29th, 2012. every game that i had while he was in the hospital i would write his initials on my wrist so that way i knew that even though he wasn’t there sitting in the stands watching me he was still there in my heart cheering me on. once he was released he did start coming to my games again and it was tough managing a relationship but to this day we are still together. hockey is a sport that takes up a lot of your time and is hard to plan things around. hockey is something that will always be in my blood and heart. i am greatful to have played hockey and to have meet so many new friends who i consider family.

  115. After reading this letter it brought back all the memories of being a hockey mom for so many years, not knowing what my husband and I would do after our son stopped playing. Not only do the players become families but so do their families. You spend so much time together. I love spending the time with our son as he grew up. Watching him on the ice and his team mates is something we will never forget. We re still friends with most of the families we spent all our days with. Hockey is the best thing we could have ever had our son play. he misses it very much still and when ever someone says lets play he is there.

  116. As a mom of two awesome hockey playing boys this is the best thing written ever! I miss watching them play and I know the miss the game as much as the miss the brotherhood.

  117. As my son completed his first hat trick on senior night last week, we are now facing the playoffs, great article, wish us luck and I wish you all the best the future holds. As an earlier comment, coaching has been terrific and seeing my son and daughter love the game is so special. Thanks again

  118. I think we saw you play this season. The U18 Nashville Jr. Predators played in Ohio back in Nov. The team watched Ohio vs Dayton and your coach spoke to our boys about playing in college. Since then we have 6 including my son commit to play at the next level. Loved reading your story. As a hockey mom, I totally get it.

  119. Your feeling about hockey is great but you need to quickly snap out of it or you will miss out on potentially the best parts of your life.

    The losers are the ones who spend their first 20 years living the dream and the next 60 wishing for the first 20.

    The winners are the ones who realize that the first 20 years are only a warm-up for the really amazing parts of life. Family, career, wisdom, kids, and yes…hockey. Have you lost your will to play? Do you think your life is over. I’m sorry for you young man, you are setting yourself up for a sad, sad life. Snap out of it and go join a hockey league (hopefully while you’re also taking what you learned in your early years to make something special of your life). Go get ’em.

  120. Right knee is shot, I’ve had both hips replaced, and just had back surgery three days after my 64th birthday. Should be back on the blades by July and I’m filling out my application for next years over 60 league this weekend. The game has given me friends all over North America that I never would have had with out “the game”.

  121. You’ve just been broken in to hockey mate. It is the beer leagues where the real dedcation lies. It is easy to focus to All State or NHL but turning up at the rink after 11pm and playing a few periods with your mates…. That is what it is all about. You are playing hockey or the fun of it instead of sleeping in your cozy bed… you feel alive!!!!

  122. Thank you for such a great letter! I couldn’t help but get goosebumps as I related to everything you wrote about growing up playing hockey. I did stop playing hockey for a couple years after a back injury in my 30’s but my “hockey family” was’nt allowing it. I came back to the ice and am still skating at age 42. The friendships I have made through hockey are priceless. Hockey is in my blood and I couldn’t think of a better way to spend my life. You will be back on the ice….

  123. I enjoyed the article, but love of hockey does not end in your twenties. I say love of hockey improves over time and even more involvement as you grow older. The highest reward is teaching a young player how to skate and play hockey for the first time. I too have many fond memories of playing in the day at a very high level. Coaching hockey is the highest reward along with serving as a Board Member for you local hockey association. Last Saturday I was one of many Coaches and Board Members for our association to teach 72 young men and women how to skate and play hockey for the very first time on, “Try Hockey For Free Day.” This was a record day for us, as our association only has 98 players in total. Smiling faces prevailed on all accounts. I have taught hundreds and perhaps thousands of young children the gift of playing hockey. This is what Love truly exhibits. Think about it and stay involved.

  124. Well stated. I am always envious of those who write well. I’ve been there, done that and have felt everything you wrote. I too had a very good high school and college career. I played three years in the minors chasing the NHL, but it din’t work out. My next stage of the game occurred years later, coaching my kids, all levels of talent, all ages. Next stop was the over 40 league, then the over 50 league. So much fun along the way. Health forced my official retirement from skating just three years ago, but the hockey memories will forever be with me……Thanks to great men like Jack Parker, the memory of the great teams a played on at Boston University live on, you are always a member of the BU hockey family if you played there. Now there is new leadership at the old school and I am looking forward to watching the “new guy” have fun and bring success to a storied hockey club…………….

    1. Paul I have one of your ref shirts hanging in my office on Cape Cod! You even helped me long ago at a trade show st the Pru in Boston. How bout your days as coach of the DY Dolphins . I use to broadcast with a gentleman named Bob Barry who I know you knew! Hockey is a small family of great people!! I still can’t believe you held a how to fight clinic in Hingham years ago! Thanks for all those years dedicated to the game!

  125. The story did not say why he was leaving hockey, I am now 47 years old and I play at least twice a week. I dread the day that I put on my skates for the last time. I am now skating with my kids and we have found some national tournaments that now have divisions for +45.

    I first put on my skates at the age of 4 in Minnesota and 43 years later I still get excited before every game.

  126. Since you were two we would run to the ice. Sometimes It was earlier, later it was anytime. I wouldn’t trade a day. There may have been times over the years where time conflicted with something, but we aways worked it out. Being in Berlin (NH) we always had to rtravel the furthest to other rinks. Seemed most any away game was at least two hours away, if not 21/2 or 3 hours. But we did it and all had a good time. Your sister to this very day changes personality when she sees you into it on the ice, never mind if you get hit! I often think I’d have to contain her. She loves you and would jump to protect her brother, I thank you for ALL THE YEARS Eric, they are some of my best memories. The man that you have become today clearly reflects the respect and discipline that you carry from your younger years. I’m very proud you you Eric, always will be. Thank you, Dad

  127. Shane-

    Great letter – you have the gift of hockey AND communication! Just because your most competitive hockey days are now behind you does NOT mean that hockey is over for you. Now is the START of your “giving back” to hockey. ANY local hockey club or ice rink would be wise to have you as a youth coach. I am currently twice your age now – I never got to play competitively until 8th grade and never made my H.S. team in WI. I stopped playing for 20 years until a friend invited me out to a “private old-man rat hockey” 10-yrs ago now. I went from skating 1/month to twice / week for 8-yrs now and I’m always trying to find my next “hockey fix” in Chicagoland. I have also been able to become an asst. coach for my son’s youth teams the past 8-yrs now, too. Of the middle-aged men that I play with, EVERY SINGLE GUY says that they can’t believe how much FUN it is to be back on the ice and feeling young again and that they can’t see life w/out hockey being a part of it again – regardless of their talent level or physical condition. Also, the personal and professional referrals and networking of the hockey community is VERY strong and it all begins in the locker room – I’ve never met so many I/T, automotive, Landscapers, Insurance guys, plumbers, Dr.’s, and Attorneys in my life as I have in the lockerroom for “old man group hockey”!

    Don’t ever give up – THANKS!!!

  128. As a 45 year old father of sons just starting hockey and a player of 40 years, this is everything I have been telling my boys. This sport is like no other. I would never be the man I am if it wasn’t for Hockey. Thank you so much for this, I will share it with the rest of my family… Hockey family that is..

  129. As a grandparents of two hockey girls we really relate to your story.
    Our older grandaughter is a goalie and usually plays on two or three teams each winter. One of these teams is a girls’ while the others are boys’. She is in grade 11 and plays on the high school girls’ team also. When she was just little her Grampa would take her during her fussy time and they would watch the TV games together. At age 5 she started playing on a team as her Grampa said he would coach it. The sport has kept her and him very close. Of course, we all go to her home games but he follows her to the majority of away games too. Some of these are 1200 miles away at the far side of our province. She has been invited to play on a provincial team twice now and even got to coach a team of little girls at one of these tournaments. Both of these teams won so you can guess she was pumped! Her choice of being goalie is really tough on her Mom and I, but she gets through the games and then talks to her Grampa about why a goal got passed her. She has suffered a couple of concussions, the last one kept her out of school for a month, but says she would not change to another sport for anything! Guess she will play the game until she can no longer do it. Her Grampa has had to give it up due to replaced knees and hips but loves so much that two of his granddaughters are playing it.
    Our other hockey granddaughter is just as dedicated to the sport and loves playing boys’ hockey also.She is in grade nine this year and doesn’t miss a practice or a game either. She hopes she gets to finally score on her sister soon.
    Girls’ hockey has come so far in our area and is really competitive but they enjoy the boys’ games more it seems. While some days in the winter schools may be closed because of snow, the arena always manages to stay open and our girls convince their Grampa that they need to get there for a practise game!
    You are so right about friendships and team work. Best friends forever are made on the ice and problems seem to disappear when the skates are strapped on.
    Many thanks for the letter Shane. Your comments are so very close to our hearts.

  130. Great letter. All of it so true! Our oldest played hockey his whole life, our youngest has been on skates since he could walk. It truly was a lifestyle for all of us! The youngest is now a Freshman in College and we are “empty-nesters”. His High School Hockey run was by far the best! These boys lit it up every week, without fail! His friendships will surely last a life time! His best friends are all at different Colleges but when they know they are about to see each other……they are gitty!!! All the friendships and families that we were so close with for all those years have drifted, but the memories are golden! I miss the games, the ice rinks, they kids, but I really don’t miss that smell. Something about a hockey bag, closed up in the car, or in a Hotel room. Or in the basement. Yeah……don’t miss that.

  131. Shane, great read, you have a knack for the written word.
    I’m 45 now and can remember that exact night I took off that Jr. sweater for the last time. I didn’t want to leave that dressing room. I think it took me 2 hours to get undressed. I never even washed that jersey. The guys wife that framed it for me asked me a couple of times if I was SURE I didn’t want to wash it first. After a year of playing beer league and pick up, I realized that my competitive hockey was only one chapter of my hockey life, your just moving on to chapter 2. The game doesn’t change, your love of the game will never change. A sold out crowd won’t be chanting and cheering you on, but your kids will be some day, and it feels just as good.
    Good Luck to you in all you do Shane, Hockey is as much of a part of us as our own skin. I still get a little shiver every time I pass through the gates and hit that clean sheet for the first time.

  132. I am a hockey Mom and your article touched my heart! My boy is 16 and we are about to take a mother/son trip to hockey Nationals to represent AZ. My son has played since 1st grade and our family has had some of our all time best memories traveling with his teams, even to Canada one year, which was pretty exciting for us Arizona folk. I will be sharing this article with my boy and I thank you because your heartfelt words really gave me a sense of what my son must feel…and I know in my heart that a lot of your descriptions are exactly what he experiences, which is one reason that we have paid the not-so-cheap hockey bills and continued to support him through the years. I have told people that when he is on the ice, he is in his element and that hockey is his daily vitamin. I so agree with you about the good lessons that hockey teaches, especially the family feel aspect and the “no i in the word team in hockey” is so very true in this terrific sport. Wishing you continued success with your next chapter in life!

  133. I do not come from a hockey family, at least not a family of hockey players. I have always enjoyed watching the sport. 3 years ago my youngest asked if he could play. It’s been an amazing experience for him. He does very well. The coaches, parents and players are definitely a hockey family.

  134. Hey Shane,

    I am a hockey Dad with two kids playing Hockey here in Adelaide South Australia. Every word you wrote meant something to me and I see what you were writing about every time I am at the rink either at home or at away games. Our kids bought us to Hockey we actually wanted our son to be a figure skater after him learning to skate at 4 years and his sister starting at 2 years. They both still play and love it 15 years later. but from the day our son said “what are those kids doing with the sticks, on the ice?” He had just finished a figure skating lesson. “Can I do that?” And they have been for the last 15 years. As Hockey parents the sport, the game the life has taken us everywhere around the world. To the point of postponing a kitchen renovation so our lad could go to a hockey academy in Montreal for a couple of years. The kitchen is still not done and he is now working. But it is such an adventure and it is our lives we all love it, as you do but just not quite able to put it as eloquently as you. Enjoy your career and you know in your heart that as soon as you have kids you will be back on the roller coaster and loving every minute of it. Good Luck mate.

  135. Excellent letter. Our grandson started at 4 and always the goalie. He is now a sophomore and only a few seasons left. We have so enjoyed following his hockey games.

  136. Shane,

    Great letter. I think all of us who played competitively can relate. But speaking from experience, it’s not farewell. The relationship just changes. You’ll see that whether its coaching kids or teaching your own son or daughter the beauty of the game there are lots of incredible, fulfilling hockey moments ahead. You’ll see………

  137. Shane, great article. But you don’t have to say “goodbye” to hockey — you can always play as long as you can skate.

  138. I read this in a hotel room with the floor covered in hockey equipment and two little girls sleeping soundly in the next bed while my husband is in another hotel room in another town with our son. It is so true that hockey is a lifestyle and so much more than just a game. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world and when their times comes to take their last skate before the beer league, I will be there watching them!!! Heck I’m 40 and my dad still comes out to watch me play! I’m glad that my daughter and my son have this great chance to make these memories that will last à life time.

  139. Great read . I just finished reading Bobby Orrs book and there are many similarities in hockey about the camaraderie that you shared

  140. Pretty darn good piece of writing. Only thing, you’re saying good-bye to “playing” the game. One can never say “good-bye” to the game entirely after playing it (well not here in Canada anyhow). Once it is in your blood, you have it in you for life. Your interest will always be there. As in life, one comes to realize you can’t just “throw the love you have (for hockey) out the window. Its not that easy. hockey has your heart; you’ve given it to hockey many years ago. In this respect, you and I are no different. We are, in some ways, “hockey alumnists” and will be til the day we die. As your parents did, and many other adults, we will give hockey to kids, time & time again. May they journey a similar path as yours. Just as you once were, today’s kids are tomorrow’s hockey players. hockey lives!…..always will. I enjoyed your article. you really should write more. Congrats.

    From Canada (home of hockey).

  141. Hi Shane,

    Your letter hits home for some many hockey players. It is a family. For some it is all that matters. I played Tier II Jr. A, and I don’t remember the games I remeber the boys on the bus and the road trips and the banter in the dressing room. The last game is always the hardest to say good bye. I’m now 42 years old and still play once a week beer league, and I still love it. This year my own son started to play Tim Bit’s Hockey and it has now taken my love for the game to a whole new level. It’s great to see the next generation of players enjoying the game and the family the same way that you do, as a player and family member. I hope that my love of the game never dies and with a new family member playing the game I doubt it ever will. Thanks for the letter.

    Kelly.

  142. You have summed up what my family has lived for the past 17 years. First my older son played, though he started later than many kids today.Then my younger son started at age 4. It truly is a lifestyle. I watched my older son give it up his senior year of high school and we were crushed but his decision to make, not ours. My younger son just played his last high school game and for a few days we were all little depressed – it was a strange feeling. He has the skill to play at the next level but has chosen not to, deciding to focus on his college career. Again, his decision to make. Thanks for the wonderful perspective Shane. I sometimes wonder if all the money and time were worth it …..I think it was.

  143. WOW! Everything I would have said about my kids playing the game.
    But the great thing is, it doesn’t end at College.
    My 2 boys, 31 and 27 still play in Columbus, OH in Men’s league together.
    My wife, daughter and and other family members still go down and watch them play and go out after. For a Dad who did the 5;30 practices, games all over Ohio, weekends out of town with other crazy Hockey parents, the thousands of dollars we spent it is so rewarding that they STILL LOVE THE GAME!
    All the time and money was so worth it!
    Kept them doing something they loved and out of trouble.
    Yes, you have to have lived it to understand it.
    It truly is the most unique sport there is!
    Thanks for the letter!

  144. What a great letter. I 100% get it! And I am a 60 year old woman, mother of two hockey players, son and daughter, but even more poignantly…..a former player myself. I was in my early 40s when I started. Of course, I knew how to sake, growing up in a family of 8 children, with 4 brothers who took me to the frozen ponds at night. They played hockey while we were supposed to just “skate around” in the corner of the pond in front of the headlights of the car. Next to the railroad tracks, naturally. It wasn’t until my kids were playing every day, and my life became hockey, everyday, that I finally said…I wanna play too! So a small group of 5-6 of us started recruiting and we became the Mighty Moms, eventually forgoing that name to a more fierce image of the Bridgeport Blizzard. I always tell my 5 children, “Don’t ever be afraid to start something new”. My heart was in my throat the first time I suited up, but by the end of that first practice (at 12:30am !), I knew I had found the perfect high! My hockey days didn’t last as long as yours or even that of my children, but I enjoyed every single minute of it. I had my fair share of injuries from being illegally checked in a league where checking is not allowed, but I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.
    The game got younger, the players got better, and the old gals couldn’t keep up. Most of us anyway. It was a good 10 year run I’d say. I was even the first woman coach on the bench in our little rink.
    So I get it. I still get a thrill when I watch hockey. It makes me want to play again. But you are young….one of your responders said you are just beginning the “real years of hockey”. Don’t hang up those skates yet…you still have a lot of good years left in you.

  145. Shane,

    You may hang up your competitive skates but there is so much more! Share your love for the game, the next generation is waiting for someone just like you!

  146. I want to thank you for this! My eldest son just played his last game in the GTHA in the Bantam AA state Finals. Hopefully his career will continue into high school but if not, he had 10 years with the greatest game on earth.
    I am not sure why I am sending this but it seemed like the thing to do.
    His mother and I divorced and I wanted him to read what you wrote. I am 43 and have played since I was 4. I never reached the level that you did but understand everything you said. Hockey has taught me a lot about life and hope it has done the same for my boys. That you for saying what I never could!

  147. Upon reading the letter and the many comments it is self evident that you were 100% correct. Hockey is a family sport through and through. It defines our character and teaches us how to respect each other while enjoying an activity that provides a great deal of joy in our lives! Don’t ever say good bye to the game just adapt to what ever life has dealt you and go forward. Watching the sledge hockey in the para Olympics is an example of just that.

  148. Shane
    Great thoughts. I played until I was 20, then the docs said the knees were gone. I stopped playing, got married, had kids, did the whole coaching thing-baseball, basketball, soccer… Then the kids started leaving. I went to the rink one day for public skating and saw a bunch of old guys chasing the puck… And each other. I asked about one of the and was told, “oh Mel, he’s 81.” I bought new equipment (who knew about baking skates?), started playing again and found something I’ve been missing and not even knowing it. I’m playing three or four times a week again and loving every minute. Some day, I hope to be “Mel”.

  149. You brought tears to this hockey mama’s eyes. Cherish the memories and share the gift of your knowledge and experience with the next generation of players!

  150. How easily the words flow when you write from a place of love. Great article

    I often remark that hockey has been the lone constant in my life and I’m thankful for that truth on a daily basis.

    You will have a long and storied career writing about the game.

    Thanks.

    1. Nailed it man. I hung ‘Em up at 19. Played at prep school and 4 years of juniors. I often feel that every hockey player knows exactly what I’m talking about even if I don’t say a word. It’s a look, a nod, a common site and we all have been through the good the bad and the ugly. We strap on our arm our and go to war with our family vs. A rival clan. We give everything we have to each session on the ice, off the ice, dry land and in the weight room knowing that the next thing we do will make us better than the last time we stepped on the ice or faced a specific game situation. Playing hockey and moving away from home at 13 to prep school and at 16 to the junior levels to follow the dream gave me more life experience before I started even started college at age 20 than many will have in their lifetime. Their is nothing out their that can provide so much life experience as hockey can in just a short period of time. I am grateful for the time I had on the ice and wouldn’t trade it for anything. I wish a that still have years left to cherish it, go as hard as you can every time out. Look throughout the locker room at your family and enjoy the time. 10 years from hanging them up and I still relish in the glory days each and every day. It is a pride and a passion that is tough to match and harder to truly explain to someone from the outside world. However you can pass by a fellow hockey player that you never knew, give a quick nod and you both know that your on the same page without another word spoken. Live the dream boys! Go hard on and off the ice and enjoy the hell out of it while you can!

  151. My son name is also Shane ;great name. Hockey is a huge part of our family as I’ve been playing since 4 on an all boys team now I play on a woman’s league just because I love it and never want to stop . My son & daughter plays and has brought us all over the world w/ awsome tourtments . There uncles and grandmother all played. I’m thankful my kids have the love of the game ! Great article so true hockey relations are the best .

  152. Now you can take up music. You will find the same team work feeling, the same goal setting, the same family, the same competition – just no checking or fighting. And the reward – just as great! Yes, my son plays hockey – and he is a musician,too.

  153. Dear Shane — as the mom of a hockey player bound for college in the fall, and as a professional writer, myself — I am here to tell you that while your days of actually ‘playing’ may be ending, your career as a writer is off to a great start. Excellent use of the written word. Keep up the good work. Remember, always write about what you know. This piece is the perfect example of that. Good luck!

  154. I am a 40+ year old who just returned to playing after nearly 15 years off. With work and family I had to give it up and it killed me. I was a late bloomer that started competive hockey in high school after years of pond hockey. I gutted it out and made captain of my varsity team as an undersized scrapper who would go into the corners. I was the extra body when friends travel teams were depleted by kids on vacation. I loved it. I managed to play in college for a competitive club team. Through each stage it was really more about the comraderie…the car rides with my best friend and his father driving us all over New England, playing at the Meadowlands in High School, van rides to the Greater Niagara Falls area in college.

    I remember my father getting up to drive me to practice at 5 am and us having the whole house and car ride to ourselves even if we didn’t talk much. I also remember looking up at my dad in the stands for one early morning game. He was just behind the bench with his shoes at eye level. As I looked over I saw that he was wearing one brown loafer and one black oxford. He was exhausted by my hockey schedule, but he knew that I loved it.

    I remember Junior year my high school coach using me as an example when I was late to practice. I had to stand at center ice with go cart tires on my arms extended while the whole team skated. The next year after tryouts we were called into his office one by one to find out our fate. So I’m among the last to go through afte a bunch of very talented Sophs and Juniors. We have this long conversation, and I basically have come to the conclusion he is avoiding having to tell me I am cut. So I blurt out “did I make the team”…He looks at me and tells me that the only reason he was coaching this year was so he could coach me all 4 years and that after this season would be leaving. It was a loyalty (During those 4 years he had gotten married and started a family, he was only staying because he felt a responsibiltiy to me).

    25 years later during a bad snow storm, I got a call from a teammate that his father (who had been the AD) had died suddenly the night before. He asked me to make some calls because he didn’t know if people be able to attend the wake the next day. I called our teamates, the school and the coach with whom everyone had lost touch. I just called through every name on the internet to get him. And I did get him. The funeral home was packed. Everyone wondered who was the doughy guy standing in the middle of the room talking to all of us. It was our coach. He is also someone else’s coach now. He coaches tennis and he was the first to admit it not the same.

    Hockey taught me loyalty and responsibilty. It taught me to rely on other people and that hard work does get rewarded. It taught me that a great team can shut down any great individual. Hockey taught me to better communciate and to know when to help out a teammate. It taught me that everybody contributes to a team’s success – someone needs to go in the corners and muck and someone needs to score goals…knowing your role is important.

  155. Thank you for this article. You sure can sum up the love of hockey. My oldest son just finished his last Minor hockey game on Sunday to begin his next chapter of University. Sadly, they lost out in game 5 of the semi- finals. I haven’t seen him that sad since his father died of ALS just under 3 years ago. You are right, this game was his counselling. I sent the article to him as I think you named every emotion he is feeling. As a parent, and one who never grew up with hockey, the sacrifices especially financially, were tough to endure at times. I am thankful that his dad did grow up with hockey, understood it and pushed me to persevere. The payoff is far greater than the sacrifice. I hope my boys will carry that down to their kids. Thank you for sharing!

  156. Your career never ends until the day you die. I haven’t played organized hockey in 21 years and I base my health, fitness, gym schedule, around hockey still. Pickup hockey, men’s league, still as fun as playing as a squirt, high school or college. A few years ago, I shared a sheet of ice with an 86yr old WWII Vet who still laced ’em up! His career ain’t over yet either.

  157. Actually, don’t count out beer leagues and the rest of your hockey career — you’re just too young to realize the the best part is about to start. Everything you enjoyed about the game keeps going just with a little less at stake, nobody yelling at you and you a day job. But the bits you love are always there and it’s a game you can play till you’re well over 60. Don’t hang up you’re skates yet!!

  158. This was my post years ago….
    43826. For all those parents playing their last games…rather a tribute to the kids!
    by grpuckman, 03/06/14 10:00 AM
    I wrote this when my boy was graduating from EK but speaks to not only my boys, but to others. I posted it and it has been posted numerous times since by others. I’ve moved to Florida but still follow MI HS hockey and wanted to make sure the “new generation” could share this. I received many thanks… please, pass this along if you want.

    These next few weeks may be the last times I see my boy lace ‘em up with an organized team. Fourteen years ago we started, not really knowing anything about this marvelous game. He skated out onto the ice as wobbly as can be. Tonight he glides across the ice cutting his edges into the glimmering sheet of white and throwing snow up to the top of the glass with a hockey stop we could only dream about way back when.He’s worn different jerseys, traveled all over the state and country, in rinks at 6am and 12 midnight. Hotels, motels, sleeping in the van and now the bus – he’s been a real road warrior. He’s had great coaches and some not so great coaches. Some years have been great some not. But all in all, he’s met so many other young men and women that have the same passion and they give their all at game time.Like you, we’ve spent thousands of dollars on this habit forming game. Sometimes we fell into the marketing and bought the white Fedorov skates, the Nike aluminum sticks, the mini stick games, etc., but we did it for him.He’s played forward and defense and even played goalie at a tournament and let in 20 goals, but still loved it. Always smiling when he came off the ice, he put reality into our over competitiveness as parents. He simply loved the game.This week though, it might be different. It may finally hit him that from here on, it might be an occasional lunch skate, Friday night drop in, or maybe adult leagues. How will he deal with it, win or lose after that final game? How will I deal with it?I only hope we’ve raised him so that his perspective will be positive. He knows that he’s not our only son. Yes, he has a brother that skates too, but over the years he’s had hundred of “brothers” – his team mates. Some have been “best buds”, others have faded into history. But no matter what happens, when and where he ever meets up with these kids again, they have a bond that no one can ever take away. Without a doubt, a hockey team relationships is unique – especially the locker room antics.Over the next few years, tragedies will occur. Families will split up, some of the parents or even team mates will die and life may longer be as simple as pulling on the old smelly gear. How will my son deal with this? I don’t know, but I do know that through the help of hundreds of other parents, he’s learned so much more about life than I did as a child.After the last buzzer, God it will be hard. But hugs, tears of disappointment or success will still support the love I have for him and his accomplishments.Maybe he will continue on. Maybe it’s Juniors, maybe college club hockey, and yes, maybe beer leagues. I may not be able to see him, but I’ll know that if he’s on the ice, he’s in his element and the world is fine.Son, thanks for the joy you’ve given me over the years, you’ve turned out to be an outstanding young man and I’m sure your future is bright. The only thing I ask of you anymore about this game is: When the time is right, please give back for honor and respect those that did the same for you.

  159. Hockey players are a little different and perfect example is pro sports. In every other sport besides hockey players will leave the game because of injury. Not Hockey,the only way they leave the ice or a game is on a stretcher and I love them for it. This was a great read and brought me right back to my playing days. Even though I still play in pick up games and beer leagues, I miss the real thing every day. Great article.

  160. Oh god why, whyyyyyyyyyyy I want to play again. I WANT TO LIVE AGAIN!!!! PLEASE PLEASEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, if I don’t play again I’ll kill myself.

    Fuck my balls.

  161. Great post Shane. Thanks for sharing with us. I’m 54 and still lace them up 2x week. Your sentiments put the reasons why I keep doing it into perfect focus. I’ve shared this with all my hockey buddies

  162. I have never set foot on the ice, but I am a part of and totally understand the game, yet I am still in awe and just don’t always get it. It became a part of my life 18 years ago. Every Friday or Saturday nite we are on the road an hour or more for another game. We have been part of many teams, from mite all the way to ACHA D-3 National Champs. I am a baseball manager. Over half my team were hockey players; they were different; always looking for another hockey team to keep playing, to stay in the system. One by one it starts catching up and they are dropped from the system; into the beer vat. I have one more year of glory, cheers & time on the glass; another shot at Nationals…then the skates come off.

    Thanks for creating the real story Shane

  163. This article was crazy to think about I am going into my junior year at a D3 school in Massachusetts I haven’t always been the best skater or the kid on a select team I play for the love of the game I play for the bounds and like this article says for the locker room the road trips and right now I am not looking to play in college so I have two more years left it’s gonna suck to have to hang up the skates for competitive hockey like the article says beer league and pickup isn’t the same as the actual game but the other thing that was touching about this article was my dad passed away last season on Valentines Day on a Friday I had a game the next morning and I didn’t know to go or not but I remember when I was young I never missed practices or games unless I really really had to and in HS some kids would skip practice or say they were sick and my dad would get mad and say it’s HS hockey it only comes once you only do it once so I thought I shouldn’t miss it for him because he would be watching and he would want me to go I also played the last game of my season after his funeral and it was tough but I got through it I am lucky because I remeber the whole hockey team coming into the wake and they were there for me and my brother who is a grade below me hockey creates bounds you will never forget I still talk about things that happened when me and my friends were in the same team it’s could have been 5 years ago and we can still laugh about it I love hockey and this article made me realize how much I will miss the actual game.

  164. Reading this tore me up because I feel the exact same way to the sport, I’ve played the game since I was 6 years old 15 years later my career is coming to a stop at 21 years old and it honestly feels like part of me is dead, all the memories I’ve had with hockey all the teammates and brotherhoods I’ve grown to know and love will always be in my memory from day 1, to now hockey will forever live inside of me.

  165. I love your blog. My daughter is 9 and plays. She has fallen in love with hockey and nothing makes her happier than playing. She Watches Gretzky, Messier, Yzerman videos before bed and insists on eating Tim Hortons before each game. I have read her some of your blogs and we are both huge fans! Thank you for sharing.

  166. Hi Shane,

    I just wanted to say a few brief words; I played hockey for 14 years. And I remember everything that Shane describes. And if I had one piece of advice for anyone who has yet to take off the skates.

    Don’t.

    If there is one thing I miss most in my life it’s taking off my skates. I still have dreams about playing hockey. I’m 37 now; And I was good. Good enough that when I was 9 years old. I was offered to train for the Vancouver Canucks until I was old enough to try-out for the team. Needless to say it never happened. But, at the time Brian Burke was I believe the coach or assistant coach (whom later went on to be NHL VP I believe) was the one who wanted to recruit me for the endeavor.

    That is my one regret, and it will haunt me for the rest of my life because of it. Even now I thought about going through a rigorous training regiment to get back into shape for a year straight, just to contact the team and see if they’d be willing to give me a tryout. But my worry is that I am to old, and I do not expect to put in a career lifetime experience with it; Maybe a year or two just to say, “Yeah, that was me.”

    I just don’t want to leave something unsaid, when I have so much to say about it.

    Shane’s story reminds me of my father, whom passed away several years ago, and my fondest memories were of my father, and me playing hockey.

    I wish everyone the best in whatever they do now, or plan to do in the future.

    If you can help it; Don’t take off the skates until you are dead.

  167. Shane, while this is nice as prose, you’re totally wrong about it never being the same. Beer Leagues flourish with everyone from ex NHLers to complete first timers because when you lace up your skates you’re always young. Aches and pains from your lifetime disappear. (They do come back the next morning though.) The friends you have in the locker room become your friends in all aspects of life. You’re a young guy and I hope you can just change your mindset and see that it doesn’t matter what league you play in. It’s just that you’re playing. Bobby

  168. Don’t fret, I had way more fun and made much better friends playing beer leagues and adult tourneys than I ever did in high school and college.

    After 20+ years now of adult hockey, two herniated discs, a bum knee and sciatica…I’m the one who should be writing the goodbye letter. But I won’t.

  169. This is beautifully written. With a 12 year old that plays who is finding himself and his place through his love and passion of this crazy sport, you’ve solidified why we do all we do for him to play.

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