Monday, March 11, 2024

Hockey Memories and Books

Mark Messier’s autobiography, No One Wins Alone: Read it?

I finished it in about a week, and I loved it partly because it brought back a lot of memories of my own career. Ten years in the good ol’ AMHL. (For the uninitiated, I mean the 6:30 a.m. hockey league, not the Alberta Midget Hockey League.)

Image courtesy of JC Dwyer

I think of all my teammates over the years. So much camaraderie and so many good memories at Concord Valley Sports and on the golf course. Like the time we teed up leftover powdered sugar Munchkins.

But others I’ve forgotten, like the time I imitated an ice windmill this one (August 2008). I can’t recall imitating a windmill. It sounds like me, though.

I’ve chatted with a few teammates on LinkedIn or gotten updates on others from my wife, Joy, the former AMHL photographer.

So many others I’ve lost contact because I stopped playing in 2008 and stopped going to the rink. And we moved to Greenfield, MA last year. But mostly, I’ve just been complacent, taking some things for granted.

Sorry about that.

I’m not playing anymore, but I still watch the Bruins (keep the faith Black-and-Gold fans). I’ve read a lot of hockey books. And I’m back to editing my hockey memoir and dabbling with a hockey novel on Friday mornings.

How have you been? Read any good hockey books?

Sunday, June 28, 2020

White Ice: The Racism – Violence Connection

The NHL. Violent. Racist. Yet evolving—quickly enough?

Whiteness, the ice a collective reflection of the players, coaches and executive leadership, pervades the NHL.

Here in North America, and in other colonized countries, racism and violence go white hand in white hand. From slavery to the 1960s to today, too many white people like me have been silent, and thus compliant with the status quo of brutality against our black sisters and brothers. 

My skin is white. I’m biased. I’m prejudiced. I’ve discriminated. I’m privileged. I can change.

I’ve spoken out about the incongruity and hypocrisy of fighting in hockey. I hadn’t given any thought to the connection between on-ice violence and racism. Not until I started following the NHL’s Kim Davis, absorbed Megan Ming’s Ted Talk about the root of racial violence and started reading White Fragility.

As many in the hockey community seek answers and take action to address racism, I wonder how ready we are to accelerate the exit of violence in our game.

I’m no angel. I have used my body and stick as a weapon. I loved watching hockey fights as a kid. Even today, I sometimes see a Boston Bruin incur a cheap shot and think, get that guy and teach him a lesson.

Picture this: Rabid fans, pounding on the plexiglass as players launch their fists at each other. The definition of violence playing out in front of a crowd. Rage. Blood lust. Our children learn from us and repeat the cycle.

Just like systemic racism, white supremacy and microaggressions.

This is not about why players fight (mostly to protect teammates and sometimes just to “get the boys and the crowd going.”) This is not a rehash of “Should fighting be banned from hockey?” (It already is).

This is about a deep self-examination, a societal shift and our legacies.

How long are we going to recite “it’s part of the game” and, in the same breath, denounce black and other people of color for venting centuries of frustration with a deck that is stacked against them? For reacting to violence that white people taught and continue to teach them?

Will we continue to be part of the problem or consider other solutions?

Can we at least discuss a better way to eliminate racism and violence, on and off the white ice?

I don’t have all the answers. I’ll keep searching for them and ask that you do the same.

To promote healing, let’s keep the conversation constructive, ok? We don’t have to agree. We must listen to each other.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Hockey and Hernias, Part V: Pelvic Floors and Physiqz

(continued from Part IV)

In 2010, I shared my experience with the so-called sports hernia. I had no idea then that so many people would find that story or the subsequent posts on the same topic.

Long after I thought I was done writing about this subject and figured my posts were buried on the Internet, Jon Chambers found my story. Jon is the content editor at, a site dedicated to physical therapy and powerlifting. He has written many pieces about sports hernias, including the guest post that follows.

 Image provided by Physiqz
by Jon Chambers

The complex sports hernia injury is largely misunderstood. In fact, the name ‘sports hernia’ is a misnomer as there is no true herniation present. On the contrary, it is actually a structural weakness that develops in the deep abdominal wall and exterior obliques. This damaged soft tissue lays the groundwork for the injury’s worst symptom: chronic groin pain that doesn’t seem to respond to traditional physical therapy methods.

Effective treatment methods are largely unknown to general practitioners, leading to difficulties in receiving an accurate, positive diagnosis. For this reason, the professional advice of an expert should become a top priority for those injured. With that said, medical understanding of the problem has expanded dramatically since first mentions made their way into research journals in the 1980s. Using these studies as a roadmap, an effective roadmap to recovery has been born.

Increasingly, evidence points to muscular imbalances as the primary culprit in developing the injury. As the adductor muscles of the inner thigh become stronger, the core is unable to compensate—resulting in tears as the abdomen is forced far beyond its limits. “One-sided” athletic activities that are repetitive in nature, such as the kick of a soccer ball or the hitting of a hockey puck, are a main contributor to this uneven development.

The solution to resolving pain lies in working to restore balance. By utilizing a full-core rehabilitation approach, those afflicted are able to restore symmetry to the muscles of the hip and groin. As the athlete regains proper movement patterns, pressure is then lifted from the area allowing for relief.

Conservative treatment should be prescribed for 6 weeks. If substantial progress is not made in that time towards lowering pain levels, however, moving forward with surgery should not be feared. At surgical success rates of 95% and higher, taking the time to find a doctor specifically trained in the treatment of sports hernias is well worth the effort.

(Jim Dwyer here again, with an update on my situation and comments on Jon's post. I'd say that I'm in the 5% category. Hard to say what may have gone wrong with the surgery or subsequent physical therapy because there are so many suspectsbones, ligaments, nerves, fascia and tendonsthat reside in the pelvic floor.

Before even finding a surgeon, I recommend finding a pelvic floor therapist, someone who has performed a manual exam on hockey or soccer players.

If you're like me and learning about pelvic floor therapy after surgery, you too can benefit. After four or five visits with the pros at The Pelvic Health and Rehabilitation Center (Lexington, MA), the pain has decreased in frequency and duration. There is no magic fix for it, but there is relief. Even with the mysterious and maddening flare-ups, I'm hopeful that I can enjoy life more.

I don't expect to ever play organized hockey again and powerlifting is not my thing. Maybe a pick-up game or power walking. If I can do those activities with less pain, I'll consider that a victory. 

Thanks to all of you have visited the site and to the people like Jon who are doing their best to help those who seek help with pelvic floor pain.)

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Top Twelve: Pushing Away from the Table

All but done with donut(s)
I posted one entry in 2015, a clear sign that other endeavours have wooed me away from writing about hockey (and donuts).  

Oh, I have many other stories I’d like to tell here, but it’s time to say an official “see you later” with one more Top Twelve collection—this one focused on the activities, people and places that, in the last year or so, have provided relief, gratitude and even joyfulness as way to combat my often irrational fear and anxiety.

Ron Maclean’s Hockey Towns: Untold Stories from the Heart of Canada; George Henderson’s Krazy George Still Krazy After All These Cheers; and Clint Malarchuk’s A Matter of Inches, the latter of which I finished reading in Montreal.

Montreal, QC
I didn’t skate on Puckbite’s backyard rink. Way too cold. But, the Habs-loving, late-blooming hockey player and yours truly enjoyed lunch and a long philosophical discussion about hockey and the arts.

My wife and I visited several familiar places and a new donut establishment, in La Petite-Italie. Our Russian cabbie, a friendly historian who knows his way around town, delivered us to Le Trou de Beigne, where we bought these donuts, some of which we shared with the doorman at our hotel, some of which we ate, and a lot of which we had to sacrifice for art’s sake.

North Carolina
Getting Silly with "Stormy"
Another wonderful friend, much like Puckbite, lives in Charlotte. Hockey isn’t such a big deal there, so we drove north.

In Raleigh, college football outranks professional hockey, but the PNC Arena is a fantastic venue to watch a Hurricanes game. Even though the Dallas Stars beat the home team, we still enjoyed affordable seats near the player’s bench, the “Two in the Box” video segment and pulled pork.

In Durham, the hot spot is Monuts Donuts. Unique donut and coffee options contribute to the flair of this tavern that, of course, serves Sierra Nevada Tropical IPA and Irish Coffee.

The Nutella-covered cronut at Krust Bakery was the best tasting donut in Dublin. The Boston Cream at The Natural Bakery in Donnybrook made me feel at home.

Bostonians beware: I saw lots of people sporting NY Yankees caps and not a single Dubliner wearing Red Sox merchandise.

I didn’t see a Celtics, Bruins or Sox fan in Galway either, but that’s not something I worried about while savoring the porridge at the House Hotel—in the heart of the Latin Quarter. ¡QuĂ© bueno!

Dave Gosher and Bob Beers
Gosher calls such a great Bruins game on the radio that sometimes my wife and I turn off the TV’s sound. Three weeks ago on the Sports Hub 98.5 hockey show, Beers said it’s unrealistic to expect the Bruins to be perfect every game. Every NHL team goes through ups and downs. This kind of broadcasting is refreshing and supports my efforts to tap into gratitude, dare I say love.

Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand
I love these guys. How blessed are we here in Boston to have this duo on the same line and same penalty killing unit? Definitely an odd pairing, but what’s not to love as they demonstrate their mutual affection in this Valentine’s Day video? The only thing missing is a love song.

Nashville, TN
Some Nashville hockey fans may be tired of Tim McGraw’s “I like it, I love it” after every goal the Predators score, but my wife and I heard it five times as the hometown team defeated the St. Louis Blues. I couldn’t get enough of it.

My afternoon at the Country Music Hall of Fame rivaled the hockey game for entertainment value. The Keith Urban exhibit, which includes an autographed Quebec Nordiques T-shirt, and chatting with a visitor from Toronto in front of the cowboy music displays, made me happy.

My wife took a poolside photograph of  a “100 Layer Donut” from Five Daughters Bakery as I listened to a Garth Brooks tune streaming from our hotel’s speakers.

West Point, NY
Getting to re-connect with a relative who plays for the Black Knights was extra special.

Even if you’re not a hockey fan, West Point is a beautiful place to visit. I didn’t see a donut dispenser on campus, but you’ll find outstanding soda bread and cider donuts a few miles up the road, at Jones Farm.

Most every Friday morning at the Boston Bean House, I’m working on a historical novel. If you love hockey or Canadian-American history, this book may be for you. Someday. (By the way, my hockey and donut memoir is still on the to-complete list, but it needs a wee more bit editing and time to mature.)

“You still got it,” Donut Boy told me while I, in my street clothes, shot the puck into the net. He was skating after the game, as he always does, and I wasn’t— but that didn’t matter. His compliment lifted my spirits.

I’ve had so much fun playing hockey with Donut Boy and all the other men and women that make the AMHL so special. As I re-read some of the stories I’ve written (and had forgotten about), I’m so glad to have been part of the league, as a player and writer, and for friends like Donut Boy.

I haven’t skated since last fall but planks and long walks, in the cities we’ve visited and here at home in Maynard, have become my friends.

Less Pain
My groin and hip pain has decreased in frequency, intensity and duration. I’m not cured of it and there are flare-ups. But, thanks to my wife, exercise, pelvic floor therapy, my chiropractor, playing the guitar, prayer, music, meditation, my psychologist and countless others who care about me, I remain gratefully yours.

Thank you—gracias, merci, obrigado, shokran, spaciba, Go raibh maith agaibh—to all the readers over the world and to those who also shared their hockey (and/or donut) stories. Thanks for such an enlightening and magical ten-year gig.

See you on LinkedIn, email, the golf course, the rink…maybe someday here on this site again, or wherever our paths may cross again.

21 March 2017

You can now read my new blog, stories I tell about learning Spanish--in particular about pronunciation.