Above the Glass
by Samantha on 04/04/11 at 05:56 PM ET
Now, I know playoffs are upon us and there’s still plenty of hockey to be played, but it’s never too early to prepare for the inevitable. I know this because Friday night found me on the loose in Portland with nary a hockey game to attend and I used my precious non-hockey time to plan a scintillating evening that involved a bottle of wine, pizza, chocolate peanut butter organic ice cream and the latest issue of InStyle magazine. If your answer to the Whole Foods clerk who asks “you got any fun plans tonight?” is “no, just chillin” and you front it like it’s a good thing, your sad, slow decline to the off season has already begun. Therefore, to help my fellow fans avoid the same fate, I offer an early installment of the anti-expert’s guide to surviving this most dreaded time of year.
Good planning and preparation are key to embracing and enjoying the off season. Some of us just need to get an earlier start than others, that’s all. Here is the early edition of my helpful tips for living like a normal person from June to September.
1) Cultivate non-hockey related hobbies: two minimum, preferably three. These can include but don’t need to be limited to the following: building model airplanes, wine tasting, book clubs, cooking classes, knitting, remodeling classic cars, a home or outdoor space, badminton, perfecting your recipes for guacamole and margaritas, master gardening, and if you must, golf. But remember, golf is not a sport; it’s an excuse to dress like the Norwegian Olympic curling team in the great outdoors.
2) At least one month before the Memorial Cup or Stanley Cup finals, begin a diet plan that slowly eliminates or reduces the following foods from your regular snack choices, which by the way don’t count as a food group just because you eat them a lot: pretzels (with or without salt), popcorn, beer, hot dogs or any derivative thereof (e.g. chili dogs, corn dogs), nachos, onion rings, cotton candy, Subway sandwiches, pizza, snow cones and licorice.
3) Two weeks before the above tournaments, begin limiting yourself to no more than two hours of hockey-related hobbies per day (not including games). I realize this may seem difficult and indeed, impossible with playoffs in junior, major league and AHL underway but it will pay dividends later, when the only hockey on your television will be “best of” re-runs on the NHL Network, the occasional trade update on NHL.com and little news kibbles about the Stanley Cup as it makes its annual trip around the world to the homes of the winning team’s players. Trust me. In 2008, I tried waiting until the day after the Stanley Cup final to deal with the off season and I have only a vague memory of spending the next three months living in a large closet surrounded by my NHL jerseys and half-eaten bags of Cheetos. Sudden and unplanned withdrawal from hockey is an ugly scene to be avoided at all costs, even if it means making some sacrifices now.
4) Decorate strategically. Begin making an inventory of the hockey-related trinkets, memorabilia, etc. like bobbleheads, souvenir pucks, fatheads, banners, autographed sticks, jerseys, magnets, trading cards, hats, mittens, scarves, t-shirts, etc. that you have collected and/or displayed during the pre and regular seasons and playoffs. Choose carefully and limit your off-season decor to no more than three of these items. The others may be stored safely in a convenient location such as a special shelf in a closet, and periodically admired if you must. Obsession during the hockey season is perfectly acceptable, but when the rest of the world has moved on to tennis, baseball and soccer, it’s best to move on with them.
Next installment: How to get back into a shape that vaguely resembles the human body in time for the off-season.
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About Above the Glass
Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.
I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.
Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass