Monday, August 2, 2010

Lazy Hazy Days of Yearning














So, this is how it feels to be an addict. It's early morning and I'm looking out at the stillness of what promises to be a perfect summer day. The morning haze is already burning off under a gorgeous tapestry of pink and orange sky. The early birds are calling for their worms and the air is perfumed with the scent of blooming roses drifting through the open window. The long shadows of dawn are shrinking beneath the rising sun. I'm looking out at the beauty of this August morning and I'm thinking about hockey.

On this relaxed, glorious day, in a place in which such days are counted as precious as pearls on a string, I'm craving ice and competition. Don't get me wrong; I love summer. I love the beach and the barbeques and the sunny afternoons spent reading in my garden and the chance to get off the treadmill and run in the fresh air. I love having snowsuits banished to the basement. It's just that on the way to the beach I'm thinking about how Louis Leblanc will do at camp, and the book I'm reading is a biography of Doug Harvey. I'm torn between the two hockey-fan solitudes: wanting to be fully immersed in summer, but unable to completely shake the winter game. These are the summer DTs.

The comforting thing is, I know I'm not alone. The fact that all of you come and read this blog for a hockey fix makes me feel like I have company. We all know it's not too bad if you're actually outside doing something summery. It's when you're indoors, if it's raining, or if you have to work through lunch. That's when you have time to skim through hockey sites online and the anticipation of the coming season starts to take hold. Then, someone will post a highlight video of last season's playoffs. If that should happen, you should never click on it. All the excitement, terror and hope comes rushing back into your unprepared summer-mellow mind in a crashing emotional wave. You end up yearning for it to be October already, and for someone to drop a puck, somewhere. Your week of clean living collapses in a hedonistic indugence akin to drinking straight whiskey out of a paper bag.

I try to talk myself out of it. I read all the cynical views of hockey as a racket and the NHL as the money-grubbing whore of the sport. I know it's true, too. But that's the head. The heart says the Montreal Canadiens are a passion for many of us, and I just can't quit them, even for a summer.

So, from one addict to another, let's find a way to get through it together. I'm thinking of having a blog-based book club. I'll take suggestions for hockey books, then post the choice of the month. We'll all go and secure a copy from the library or wherever and then, at the end of the month, we'll throw out our impressions for discussion. We probably won't have time to do it every single month once the season gets underway, but it could be fun to start now, do it periodically over the season, then have it established to get us through next summer.

If you're up for it, I'll make the first book "The Game" by Ken Dryden. It's the quintessential insider's look at the 1970s Habs dynasty. If you've read it already, great! You're ready to go. If not, it's a good chance to read one of the best hockey books ever written and feed the addiction a little bit. What do you all think?

Addicts everywhere, unite!

9 comments:

kyleroussel said...

I'd be on board for that.

I've read The Game, with my 2nd time through it just being a a couple months ago. What struck me most this time is how much Dryden seemed like a guy who wasn't always sure of himself; he always second guessed himself, but I won't talk too much about it now.

I'd also highly recommend "The Montreal Canadiens" by D'Arcy Jenish. It's an amazing read.

I'd also strongly recommend "Putting a Roof on Winter" by Michael Mckinley. It should be required reading for any hockey fan, not just Habs fans.

moeman said...

Read 'The Game' three times. Fabulous player insight and extremely well written. Dryden was my idol growing up. He signed my copy on my birthday of all days.

I'll add 'Lions in Winter' by Chrys Goyens, Allan Turowetz.

Howard said...

I'm glad that I've read most of the books mentioned. I'm actually reading the Doug Harvey book by William Brown right now. I had read another of his books about the Montreal Royals and I knew that it would be a great read. I would recommend 'Searching for Bobby Orr' by Stephen Brunt. He's a excellent journalist and a part-time Newfoundlander to boot!

Anonymous said...

The REBEL LEAGUE by Ed Willes is a wonderful read about the WHA, a league I loved when it was around and still miss to this day.

Anonymous said...

After the Hawks terrific and entertaining run to their first Cup in 49 years I never thought I would be glad not to be a Hawk fan but the Chicago management team continues to be disfunctional when it comes to goaltending. They throw money and term at Huet and the Bhulin Wall and let Niemi go to save less than a million dollars. Go figure, they finally had a decent goalie and instead sign another old man. Good luck with that!

Howard said...

One I overlooked was 'Jacques Plante' by Todd Denault who I had the pleasure of meeting at the last HIO summit. A must read about the man who changed the 'face' of hockey.

Anonymous said...

I'm waiting for Red Fisher's new book to hit the stands "Pads of Glory" - The true story of hockey as related to Red by the 10 other guys on the ice who saw the game played.

Dave said...

I'm in! Just took out "The Game" from the library. I've never read it, but have wanted to for years. And I grew up watching him win all those cups... the 76-79 ones, anyway. Looking forward to it!

sass said...

i feel you JT-

getting the NHL channel just to rewatch not just this year's playoffs, but 2009's as well. pens vs caps, good stuff...

even enjoying the weather and basking in the glorious warmth of summer- i'm lounging around on my various inflatable pool devices and the habs logo is on all of them...

at work, skimming through every hockey/habs related blog for a shred of new information that would make me feel like hockey is still taking place...

letting out an audible squeal in the middle of the depanneur when i see the new canadiens magazine cover with my USS Gill on it, then writing a LENGTHY email of thanks to the editor...

hanging out at my local arena 3 days a week to watch the summer 3-on-3 league play, even the atomes...

ya, i'm right there with ya.