There are times friends, when some things need to change.
And change as we know, is not always easy– especially for creatures of habit like us middle-aged, hockey-playing guys.
It can be scary letting go, breaking away from the familiar, the comfortable, the loved even – into the unknown.
But that time for me has arrived.
I need a new hockey bag.
Not a big deal you say?
Well not in the sense of a bank meltdown or stock market crash kinda way, no.
But in the micro-worlds of our lives, you can form some strange, even irrational attachments. Just ask any shrink. (Not that I know personally but you can ask).
My current carrier, equipped with end compartments and netted skate pockets, has been a worthy soldier. But lately, it has taken on a look that frankly, is a bit too tattered for my tastes. The vinyl skate pockets are held together with safety pins but even that measure no longer works. Skates have actually slipped from their confines and fallen out which, to be sure, is neither good for the skate nor an unsuspecting foot.
Incidentally, I have a bit of a gripe with the good folks at CCM. Why do you use cheap plastick-y vinyl for the side compartments to store something as sharp and heavy as skates? Surely there must be stronger, yet cost-effective materials that would do the job even if the odd time blade covers aren’t used.
But I digress.
I have, after all, owned this bag for 16 or so years. Sixteen years of housing my hockey paraphernalia, transporting it to where it needed to be. And it has done a fine job of it, too. It has logged many, many miles in trunks, back seats, pick-up trucks, streetcars, buses and subways always getting my hockey goods to and from the arenas where I play. It’s also made a fine scratch pad and bed for the cat.
And it has done it with a utilitarian style whilst concealing that particularly robust odour that distinguishes the rec hockey warrior. Ever see a professional hockey player tote a bag over his shoulder? Ever? They have handlers for such mundane matters but to the rec hockey player, his bag is his badge, his brand if you will, that says, “I am a hockey player and this big heavy canvas container I lug around separates me from the rest of you girly-men!”
It is not some flimsy handbag for lightweight sports say, like badminton or tennis. It carries hockey equipment. Big, bulky, smelly, protective, collision-busting gear. Room enough almost for a space suit. When you think of some of the scary things it provides a home to, what biological entities live within its canvas skin — it is one thankless job and for that, it should be duly appreciated.
And so it is with this little homage that I say so long to my old bag. It owes me nothing after a decade and a half of stalwart service. May you be recycled in a kind way or maybe come back as one of Don Cherry’s suits. Or perhaps live a second life as camping bag or something useful. Perhaps your carrying days aren’t yet over but they are as my personal hockey equipment transporter.
A new year has begun. Time for a fresh and I do mean fresh, start.
Maybe my next hockey hauler could be of the wheel-equipped variety, a concept I’d previously scoffed at but now find intriguing and indeed, labour-saving. The wheels make me think of airport passengers and buggies pulled by frail old ladies to carry a couple of vegetables. It’s an image I wrestle with as I enter the sunset years of my rec hockey life but wheels or not, it just might be the beginning of another beautiful friendship…
Do you have a piece of hockey equipment that should be retired but just can’t part with?
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