Kukla's Korner

Aging hockey player makes return to Nashville ice

No, it’s not who you think (more on that later, though).  After many months on the shelf, I finally made my return to the rink with the Piranahs of the Centennial Sportsplex’s Upper C league in Nashville.  Considering that my best days on the ice were 10 years and 30 pounds ago, I think it’s a roaring success that I’m up and moving this morning.  I would like to find a good cane, however.

I knew it would be an interesting evening when I got to the locker room, introduced myself to a few of the guys, and sat down to go through my bag… which I then realized hadn’t been opened since my last game in March.  The familiar stench of festering hockey gear hit my nose like Jordin Tootoo, and most of the equipment was still damp. Bad sign, there.

The palms of my gloves, once an ivory-colored layer of pliable leather, had turned to the color and consistency of pond scum, tearing apart at the touch.  On top of the protective padding, a polka-dot pattern of mold spoke to the biological orgy that had been going on in this dark, wet, closed environment tucked away in the corner of my garage.

The horror…

Common sense, of course, dictated a couple bottles of Lysol, or perhaps calling in a Hazmat team, but game time was just minutes away, so I took a hockey sock, wiped things off as best I could, and soldiered on.

Actually donning the equipment was a workout in itself, and my feet went numb within a couple minutes of lacing up my skates.  On the ice, though, things went better than I feared. Sure, the first shift saw a couple misplayed pucks and Bambi-like stability on my feet, but after a while I found my legs, made a few decent passes, took a couple decent shots, and generally hung in there.  We were playing a team of college guys that actually had some fans in the stands with signs and cowbells (an odd sight for a beer league).  The signs were for cheering, but I think the cowbells were there just so our opponents could find their girlfriends after the game as they wandered around the parking lot.

Anyways, our band of 30- and 40-somethings held in there until late in the 3rd, when a couple empty netters resulted in an 8-4 loss. The funniest part was that on the way home, I checked Twitter, and it turns out that one of the guys I follow on there (@thinktrain) was my center that evening as I patrolled the right wing.  At least now we can work on pre-game strategy in 140-character blips…

Filed in: NHL Commentary, | On the Forecheck | Permalink


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