The death of a cricketer

I’ve been hit in the helmet by a puck a few times. One that I remember really clanged into my temple: a warm-up slapshot by a teammate as I skated behind the net. I shook it off and laughed, as you do. Abused the relieved and apologetic teammate and skated on.

Because that’s what usually happens, isn’t it? Just as almost every lost skate-edge near the boards leads to nothing more than some bruises, usually to the ego. Just as every dangerously raised stick usually leads to no more than a clank and a grunt and some cursing and maybe a penalty if the refs are on their game. Possibly some blood if the player is wearing a visor instead of a cage. Just a flesh wound, as the Black Knight liked to say.

Phillip Hughes as I prefer to remember him. Batting with daring and style.

Phillip Hughes as I prefer to remember him. Batting with daring and style. Pic: Fairfax.

But every now and then the script runs differently. Sometimes sport goes as wrong as it possibly can. Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes died today, two days after being struck in the back of his skull by the hard red leather ball, trying to hook a bouncer and missing it. By the sort of bastard quirks of fate that are always involved in such horrific incidents, the ball somehow snuck under his helmet to directly hit his skull, fracturing it and cutting a major artery. Despite surgery and an induced coma, he never woke up.

What do we, hockey players in what we know can be a dangerous sport, take from a tragedy like this? Not a lot, to be honest. We just remind ourselves never to turn our back on the puck, as my coach sagely advised on Facebook a few minutes ago. We also fall back into the comfort of statistics: consider how many thousands and thousands of cricketers are playing the game every week around the world. One has fallen, when everything managed to line up to go as wrong as it could. Such a sports death is oh so genuinely tragic – a word that gets used way too much – but it’s an accident. Nothing more, nothing less.

Cricket, like hockey, can be dangerous and we can forget that. Then something like Phillip Hughes’ death brings that knowledge flooding back in a shock.

Our sport is no different. There are so so so so many hockey players skating around the rinks of the world, people. Amateurs, sub-professionals, NHL stars, learners, kids, enthusiasts, academy students, college players… the list goes on and on. Even in Australia, something like 20,000 players crowd onto our too-few rinks.

The reality is that some of those players will get hurt. That slightly awkward angle of a shoulder hitting boards that breaks bones instead of bouncing off. That puck that finds an unprotected side knee instead of the usual thick padding. Those tiny, random, impossible-to-plan-for moments. A goalie friend of mine tore his groin yesterday, making a save. He makes how many saves every week, every year? This one his body didn’t cope with, for whatever reason.

It will happen when we put ourselves at risk. Let’s face it, maybe a player will even get hit hard in the head, by the rubber puck. God, I hope not, and I feel genuinely ill at the idea of my son or my teammates being hurt. But there’s no way for us to plan or avoid that fraction of a second anyway, and the odds are that we’ll all be okay.

None of this, by the way, is to wave off Phillip Hughes’ death. Far from it. I feel heartsick at his demise: have been obsessed with worrying for his health since it happened. I don’t even know why: I’m nowhere near as into cricket as I used to be now that the NHL and my own hockey dominates my Australian summer. But I felt like I knew Hughes, from watching his brief spectacular and spluttering Test career and I liked the way he carried himself, his unusual cavalier batting style and the way he backed himself although small and slight. His death has hit me hard. Hell, maybe it’s simply because I am a parent? I ache for his family, and the poor paceman who bowled the ball that accidentally killed him.

Phillip Hughes.

Phillip Hughes. Pic: Getty Images.

But for all of this sorrow, I’m trying to retain context, to retain poise. For anybody skating today, or playing this weekend, as we are against the Wolverines on Sunday, such context is important so that we can skate hard, throw ourselves into those crazy situations we usually do, and emerge smiling. Sport is 99 per cent healthy fun.

We humans can tend to look for ‘meaning’ in tragedy, to look for lessons or truths. As I’ve written before – especially after the equally tragic too-young off-ice death of a hockey mate, Charlie Srour, or the Russian plane crash that killed a former Red Wing and his entire team – I think the reality is that there is a lot of randomness in the universe and sometimes there is no sense, no reason why Hughes dies just short of his 26th birthday from a misjudged hook shot and Nick Place survives falling off a large cliff when I was 15 … it just is.

Blind shithouse luck, or a lack of it when it matters.

The Hockey Gods will mostly look after us skaters and, anyway, there’s no point dwelling on the fraction of a small chance that something might go wrong. If it does, it does. Enjoy your sport, as Phillip Hughes obviously did. Raise a glass for him as I plan to, shed a tear, and then strap on your skates. Go to where the puck will be, not where the puck is.

And I can’t tell you how much I mean it when I say: I hope you’ll be safe.

Surviving the hockey hangover

I’m glad my legs can’t talk, at least this morning.

‘You’re kidding, right?’

‘No f***ing way.’

I click my cleats into the pedals and the bike begins to roll, aching muscles protesting hard as they pull and push the pedals and I gain momentum. It’s only eight hours since I walked through the door of my apartment, post intermediate class and development league. Six hours, maybe, of fitful sleep. And now I’m riding across the inner city, which is mercifully flat, to work.

Suffering what we all know as the Hockey Hangover.

Thursday survival strategy: coffee.

Thursday survival strategy: coffee.

You know what I’m talking about.

This is a phenomenon familiar to pretty much anybody playing hockey, at least here in Melbourne. If you’re reading this in America, or Canada, or even Sydney with its handful of rinks, feel blessed.

We have two rinks for our city of 4.25 million people. Two.

In case you’re calculating, it works out at one rink per 2,125,000 residents.

There’s the palatial Icehouse at Docklands, and the slightly sub-palatial Olympic rink at Oakleigh.

The IHV summer comp has 25 teams across four divisions.

Plus the Melbourne Ice women’s team in mid-season.

Plus the Ice Academy, developing rookies and elite players..

Plus hockey school at the Icehouse.

Plus Nite Owls on Sundays.

Plus all the Next Level stuff and scrimmages at Oakleigh.

Plus winter players wanting ice time to keep their eye in.

Plus team training sessions.

This all equals a lot of teams and a lot of players. All wanting ice time. All wanting those two rinks. There are only so many hours in a day …

… you can see that some hockey players somewhere are having a late night. Every night.

My guaranteed late night is Wednesday, when development league steps off the ice at the not-so-bad hour of 11 pm. But it means at least a 1 am sleep time and on Thursday, that hurts.

I actually kind of like the late night cruise home from dev. It takes me back to my mis-spent youth as a police reporter for The Herald newspaper. A photographer and I would start work at 2 am, and sit in police headquarters, getting the nods, or cruise the empty streets, heading to murder scenes or fatal car accidents. Maybe a fire. Sometimes just driving to stay awake, police scanner static and rego checks in our ears. The whole city asleep, apart from this undercurrent, these ripples of evil, ripples of good, and somewhere the insomniacs staring into the dark.

Late night in the hood. Empty streets, apart from shiftworkers, emergency workers, desperadoes and hockey players.

Late night in the hood. Empty streets, apart from shiftworkers, emergency workers, desperadoes and hockey players.

We’d cruise Lygon Street, grabbing 4 am coffees at all night cafes that I now know had illegal gambling happening upstairs; the downstairs wait staff eyeing us warily in case we were cops, not bleary-eyed journos.

Sometimes, post-crazy hour hockey feels like that. Last night, at 11.30 pm, Big Cat and I driving home, with music playing, discussing the game we’d just played (a 7-0 loss: ugly, yet four-on-four hockey all night: fun!)

As we turn into Brunswick Street, police blue and red lights are flashing towards the city. The street otherwise winding down with a few stragglers walking home or waving for taxis. In the open doors of a few cafes and bars, chairs are on tables, music playing as staff toil to clean up and get out of there.

Having dropped Big Cat off, I turn the car towards Fitzroy North, and click my iTunes over to ‘Breakfast at Sweethearts’, Cold Chisel’s mighty effort to capture that feeling of the end of a long, long night of work and/or play.

When I get home, the house is silent. My cat, Lady Byng, greets me with bumps. The dog is on a sleepover and so is not there tonight, no thumping wag of the tail from the top of the stairs to wake up Chloé, as I creep towards bed. But I’m wide awake, still wired. I spend an hour surfing the net, catching up on the Red Wings news, the Age, Guardian, New York Times, LA Times, and however many other reads I can manage before the adrenalin finally sags and my eyelids close.

And then, before I know it, there’s an alarm blaring and Oh God, seriously? Already?

I haven’t had nearly enough sleep, and my eyes look like baggy, bleary crap, but this is Thursday, every Thursday, and so I reach for caffeine and try to giddyup. My bike finds its way to work. My tired legs find their way to my office. My brain tries to kick in, and I drink more and more coffee and just want to curl up and sleep on the floor under my desk.

Like I said, we all know this feeling.

And it’s going to happen again next week. It’s going to happen the week after that.

Because what’s the alternative? Not play hockey?

Yeah, right.

Searching for a hockey God

I’ve never been a big fan of mixing religion and sport.

I’m not talking about the religious beliefs of my fellow hockey players. One of my former Jets teammates was pondering recently whether to even play summer competition this year because most of the games were on Saturdays, and that’s a religious down day for him – a devoted day to try and do good for the world, which is a nice idea.

I respect his dilemma, and admire his discipline. Quietly choosing belief over sport.

Instead I’m talking about the outspoken religious types on the wider stage. The athletes who use their moment in the spotlight to shove their God down everybody’s collective throat. You know, the Olympic sprinter who crosses herself after winning gold, looking to the Heavens. Or the golfer who earnestly thanks God for a PGA win, for Divinely helping that final three metre putt drop so the believer could bank the giant cheque. Meanwhile, in the world’s trouble spots …

My favourite and funniest ever example of this phenomenon was back in the carbon-dated era when I was a very young international tennis writer and an American teenager called Michael Chang won the French Open, the only time I ever got to cover Roland Garros. I was secretly sad that Chang won because one of my favourite players, Stefan Edberg, had played out of his brain to make the final and I think he knew and we knew and everybody knew that he would never get a chance like this again, to win the clay-based French title, the most difficult Grand Slam leg for his serve-volley talents, against some teenager.

Edberg was even up two sets to one in the final but couldn’t put away the dogged, mosquito-like Chang, finally losing, exhausted, 6-2 in the fifth.

All of which was fair enough – well played, kid – until the presentation ceremony. Chang’s victory speech went on and on, in a weary monologue about how God had won this title for him, that his success was all down to The Lord, that God had given him the strength and the legs, thank you God for this silverware, thank you God for this triumph … Seriously, it was cringeworthy.

Stefan Edberg (right) manages not to roll his eyes as Michael Chang drones on and on. Roland Garros, 1989.

Stefan Edberg (right) manages not to roll his eyes as Michael Chang drones on and on. Roland Garros, 1989.

Through all this, I was watching poor Edberg. The Swede is one of the nicest guys you would ever meet in world sport and he stood, absolutely poker-faced, through this endless rant. Finally, Chang wound it up and Edberg was able to leave the court and, in an unusual move, went straight to the media room. (On the world tennis tour, the loser is allowed to go second, for media, to give them time to compose themselves, especially after a Grand Slam final.)

The journalists gathered, respectfully quiet and sympathetic to Stefan’s loss. Edberg sipped water and sighed. There was the usual pause as everybody waited for somebody to pipe up with the opening question. And then an American journo said: ‘Stefan, why do you think God was so against you today?’

Oh, we laughed. Including Edberg, who did his quiet Swedish chortle and said: ‘No, no, no, no, no. I’m not touching that. No comment. Hahaha.’

And we all got back to discussing this backhand or that point and life returned to normal.

The only reason to bring this up – apart from the fact that this remains one of my favourite memories from my tennis writing days – is that Detroit played the Montreal Canadiens today, a team also known as the Habs or, in French Canada, as La Sainte-Flannelle (The Holy Flannel).

As far as hockey goes, religion usually seems to be about as present as in any other North American sport. You’ll get players thanking the Lord for their talent here or there, and I’m sure many players are deeply, privately religious.

For fans, there are the jokes (and I apologise in advance to religious friends reading this, if you find it offensive), such as:
‘Q: Why was Jesus terrible at hockey?
A: Because he kept getting nailed to the boards.’

You can buy the t-shirt ...

You can buy the t-shirt …

Or the bumper sticker: ‘Jesus saves. Passes to Noah, who shoots and scores!

But the Canadiens shrug off such wisecracks to put an interesting spin on the whole question of sport and religion, because it has been seriously debated that the team may qualify as a faith.

In 2009, the centenary of the team’s creation, Professor Olivier Bauer at the Université de Montréal launched a 16 week class seriously asking the question: should the Canadiens should be regarded as a religion? It is unarguable that the team is much bigger to French-Canada than a mere sporting team. It is a cultural icon with a deeply powerful emotional attachment for its followers, to the point that Bauer raised the argument that the team was so deeply entwined to the region’s culture, spirit and self-belief that it may tick all the boxes required of a religion.

(The course, by the way, followed on from a book, co-edited by Bauer – who is unrelated to the hockey equipment company as far as I know – called La religion du Canadien de Montréal.)

In many ways, Montreal is to hockey what St Andrews in Scotland is to golf; the home, the foundation. For example, it was on March 3, 1875, that the first-ever indoor game of ice hockey was held there. Early incarnations of the Stanley Cup competition were won by the Montreal Hockey Club, the Montreal Victories, and then the Montreal Shamrocks, even before the Canadiens made real the idea of a unified, dedicated French-Canadian team, and later became the most dominant team in the competition.

The early days: ice hockey under a roof. Montreal, 1893.

The early days: ice hockey under a roof. Montreal, 1893.

There was always Catholic Church involvement in the Montreal Shamrocks and later the French-speaking Canadiens, until the Richard Riot, which followed all-time hero Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard being thrown out of the 1955 season for punching a linesman. The street riot that followed transcended hockey and is pointed at by some as the start of the wider Quebec Quiet Revolution that eventually saw the region shake off the control of the Catholic church and English bank.

In his course, Professor Bauer argued only half-jokingly that if you look at the Canadiens’ followers all these years later, there is activity within the fan-base that could normally be ascribed to a religion. For example, fans committed to the team to such an extent that they were truly praying for victory. ‘The fans, they pray for two things. The first is that the Canadiens will win. The second thing is that they pray for the Canadiens to crush the Maple Leafs, but I think you don’t need any God for that,’ he added as an aside.

Bauer also discussed the concept that fans understood that sacrifice was required for glory.

‘You know, you have to suffer if you want to win. Jesus had to die and resurrect. That’s the kind of thing we expect from our players. You must be ready to suffer in order to win or earn us some victory. You must risk everything and sweat and fight or be knocked out,’ he said.

‘Charity has been the function of the church,’ he continued. ‘Now it’s the team who is taking charge of the social life, visiting children in hospitals, inviting children to see a game or giving money to charity… Does that mean they have kind of a religious role?’

Maurice 'Rocket' Richard's all-conquering and Quebec-changing Canadiens.

Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard’s all-conquering and Quebec-changing Canadiens.

Finally, Bauer observed the blatantly religious parallels and iconography drawn by local media and fans. The old Montreal Forum was known as ‘the Cathedral of Hockey’. The team’s stars were often called names such as ‘St. Patrick’ Roy, and ‘Jesus Price’, instead of Carey Price. Back in the day, Richard’s unintended influence on the wider French-speaking Canadian world through his hockey exploits has been well documented. He became a symbol for Quebec as it rose to claim its true identity within the wider Canada – or Canadia, as Prime Minister Abbott might call it. In the excellent book of hockey essays, ‘Open Ice, a former Sports Illustrated writer, Jack Falla, vividly describes following an intangible urge to attend Richard’s funeral and how it was just, well, bigger than a hockey player’s farewell:’open%20ice’%20book%20Richard%20funeral&pg=PA21&output=embed

In the end, Bauer’s course came the conclusion that the Canadiens could not be regarded as a religion because there was no supernatural element to the faith, an essential definer. And so, today, the Earth-bound Habs were just another NHL hockey team, continuing their excellent, non-spiritual early season form against the Wings, at the Joe, in their latest quest for an ever-elusive Stanley Cup; a Holy Grail that has refused to come home to Montreal since 1993.

As a hater of chest-beating religion in sport, I guess I’m okay with that. Maybe one day, the ghost of ‘Rocket’ Richard will be seen at the old cathedral, and  we can have this debate all over again. But until then, let’s push religion to where it belongs, away from the sports arena, and go chase pucks.

These little aches and pains

These little aches and pains.
I’ve got them always now,
Sunshine or rain.’

Paul Kelly

I remember Paul Kelly once saying at a concert that he has a large family, and they’re getting older. (PK himself is pushing 60, although you wouldn’t know it if you’ve ever seen him playing footy. He’s like a greyhound, always moving, kicking off both feet, running, running running.)

But when the Kelly family gets together now, he said, every member is allowed five minutes only to discuss their ailments. The years are taking tolls in all directions and so it has been agreed that five minutes is the maximum whinge/outlining of physical woes.

Careering towards the boards probably doesn't help my injury list get shorter. Pic: Luke Milković

Careering towards the boards probably doesn’t help my injury list get shorter. Pic: Luke Milković

At the moment, this is resonating strongly for Nicko Place, hockey player. Only a few rounds into the summer season and my poor old body is groaning. I’ve had a sore wrist for weeks now – maybe a tiny chip on a bone; I don’t know – and my neck yelps if I look to the right, while my left upper hammie has been troubling me for a couple of months. Now my lower back is kicking in, to the point that I pulled out of dev league last night because my back was hurting, instead of warmed up and functioning, after Intermediate class.

I hate pulling out of a game, any game, and sure enough my red team went on to win 4-3 in a thriller, as I showered and drove home to an earlier night than usual.

This morning, the back is aching and the wrist is hurting and I’m feeling like the old man that I am.

Almost without exception, when you tell anybody you play hockey, their immediate response is: ‘That’s a wild game, isn’t it? You must get physically smashed.’

I always go into explanations about how at our level of ‘non-checking’ play, there may be collisions, rather than deliberate impact. No punches thrown – well, hardly any. But honestly, it’s not as physical as you’d think.

But lately, all those collisions seem to be catching up with me. Is it my advanced hockey age? Or am I just in the middle of a bad run? If I was to read back through all the blog posts about The Year of the Knee, I’d be reminded that as banged up as I feel today, I’m totally fine: I can skate and I can stick-handle and I can bend, even if my back isn’t thrilled about it. Or I could think of my days among the Nite Owls, where 70-year-olds still wheel and skate and shoot, if at a slightly gentler pace than when they were in their pomp half a century ago.

One of my fellow Cherokees and a Demon player demonstrating what I mean by 'collision' during a recent summer league battle. Pic: Luke Milković

One of my fellow Cherokees and a Demon player demonstrating what I mean by ‘collision’ during a recent summer league battle. Pic: Luke Milković

It’s all a matter of context and attitude, I guess. I plan to hit the gym today or tonight, to do the lower back strengthening exercises that I’ve been slack about since returning from France. Tonight, I have team training and then a game on Saturday. If I can wrangle it, I might even try to kick a footy at the Bang on Sunday.

The body moans and complains but it keeps going, which is all that matters, I suppose. Usually, I wouldn’t write a post about this because it’s such a constant and such a low-level irritant that it doesn’t seem blog worthy. The pains niggle and worry but don’t add up to more than that. And even then, I’m sure most players going around have something niggling away. A former teammate posted today on facebook about how a miniscus tear is bothering him and I wrote back saying, oh yeah, been carrying that one for more than a year … turns out he has too. I guess it’s standard that the hockey community is keeping stocks high in companies specialising in pain relief drugs. It’s just that, this morning, I have to keep standing up from my desk to move around.

I hope it’s a bad run of impact, and not the physical decline of Old Man Place. Time will tell.

You can’t go back

Police Squad! - In Colour!

Police Squad! – In Colour!

One of the greatest moments of ‘Police Squad!’, one of the greatest (in my humble opinion) American sit-coms – the forerunner to ‘The Naked Gun’* and Leslie Neilsen’s debut as the magnificent Sgt Frank Drebin – is when Drebin and Ed, his offsider, go to Manhattan’s Little Italy district to interview the widow of a recently murdered man. As Ed dutifully interviews her (‘Did your husband have any enemies? ‘Well, the Democrats didn’t like him.’), she wails: ‘Oh, do you know what it’s like to be married to a wonderful man for 14 years?’ and Frank says, no of course not … but I did live with a guy once. He then goes into a long, non-sequitur reminiscence that is just breathtaking scriptwriting, from where I stand. Breaking the fourth wall, he eventually muses that living with the guy’s son just wasn’t the same.

‘You can’t go back,’ he says wistfully, as Ed asks: ‘I know this is a long shot but did he ever eat chop suey? … it was just a hunch’.

Genius. In fact, dammnit, I might have posted this before because I love it so much but what the Hell. Just spend two minutes watching this. Please.

So the hockey relevance of all this? Well, it’s kind of obvious, I would have thought: my stick died recently.

This doesn’t sound like such a big deal. Sticks are plentiful and if you look behind your average NHL bench, there’s a quiver of sticks for each player, to grab if one breaks – which it often does, given how hard those guys are hitting the puck … and each other, and each other’s sticks.

But I loved my stick. I found it in Chicago in 2011, when Big Cat and I travelled to the outer burbs to a huge barn called Total Hockey. (Mackquist being Mackquist, he’d started the day by saying: ‘Oh, I have a friend in Chicago so I’m going to see her today. See ya.’ and caught a train God knows where …) That left Big Cat and I in a dedicated hockey city, and we made it count. For a couple of Australians used to having to choose from a smattering of hockey kit at Bladeworx in Hawthorn, or the tiny shop at Oakleigh’s rink, or the small selection of gear available for purchase at the Icehouse, Total Hockey was basically Gear Porn.

Picture an entire wall of gloves. A. Wall. Picture racks maybe 25 metres long, with sticks, endless sticks, on both sides of the divide. Every curve that had ever been invented, and every flex variation, length, and brand.

The whole store was like that. Basically, if you’re in Australia, imagine a Rebel Sport store, but ALL HOCKEY. Yes, that’s what we were experiencing. Willio and I walked in and just went: ‘ooooooooooooh.’

I was actually pretty happy at the time with the gloves and the stick I was using back home in Australia. It’s funny, now, three years later, to think how unformed I was then as a player. I guess I still am now, but the Nicko Place who used to wobble around the ice in 2011 would (I’m reasonably sure) get mostly smoked by the Nicko Place who wobbles slightly more efficiently around the ice now. Definitely, my passing and shot were nowhere near what they are now, so it didn’t matter as much which stick I was using.

But as Big Cat held and weighed and considered every right hand stick in the barn, I wandered the leftie sticks and poked around. And then happened to pick up a Reebok, 85 flex, Crosby curve.

My beloved 2011 Reebok stick.

My beloved 2011 Reebok stick.

There’s a scene in the first Harry Potter book/film where Harry goes to the wand shop and is told that the wand chooses the wizard, not the other way around. This felt like the hockey equivalent. For some reason, the moment I held this stick, it felt ‘right’. I just knew this was my stick. It had chosen me.

(I then wandered over to the glove wall and tried on a pair of gloves that sucked onto my hand and form-fitted to the degree that I had the same feeling, that I simply couldn’t not buy them. They died recently as well, so I bought some really decent Easton gloves, had hands of stone for a few weeks, then sucked it up and went and bought the new version of those Chicago gloves. (Vapor A2’s, if you’re wondering.) Now my hands are happy once more.)

But back to the stick. I – or it – was totally right. As my hockey improved and I began actually playing competition, my trusty Reebok stick was a constant companion on the journey. We scored goals together. We learned to saucer pass and cross-ice pass to a moving target. We even flirted with lifting shots to the top corner of a goal. It was with this stick that I scored my first-ever official IHV goal, basically golf-shotting a face-off drop straight between the goalie and the left post at Oakleigh. And where I managed to not score a goal through the most unlikely manner of striking a shot too high at the same end of Oakleigh, so that the shot pinged off the top bar and stayed out. That would have been my first goal for the Cherokees, so it still hurts that I somehow overcooked it.

But time and use caught up with my old Reebok. The toe of the stick started to crumble and became jagged. I began taping the end but finally Army, at the Icehouse, ruled that it was pretty dangerous; that you wouldn’t want to catch somebody with this now ragged fiberglass. I knew he was right.

So Big Cat and I headed to Oakleigh and I tried a dozen or more sticks and none of them had that Chicago moment, of the hockey angels singing as I hoisted My Stick. I bought a Nexus which is a perfectly fine stick, and have spent a couple of months getting the hang of it, to the point that I can now trap pucks, shoot, do all my usual things with it, but it’s never felt the same.

And then last week, I was early for a meeting in Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, and wandering the strip, happened to cruise into Bladeworx.

Everything old is new again ... the 2014 Reebok.

Everything old is new again … the 2014 Reebok.

There, sandwiched between a bunch of sticks, was a left-handed Reebok, 85 flex, Crosby curve.


It’s not exactly my old stick: I think it’s actually a level or two below the technology in the original, but I bought it – $79 off the listed price: thank you, Bladeworx – and used it last night in dev league and it felt great.

I still like the Nexus and it’s cool that I have a couple of sticks to use now, if one breaks. But I suspect I’m going to find myself more and more using the Reebok.

There’s just something about that stick. Sorry Frank Drebin, but you were wrong: when the stars align, you actually can go back.

* NOTE: Police Squad’ is available on DVD and, I think, on AppleTV. It only ran for six episodes in 1982 (two years after ‘Airplane / Flying High’ had hit movie screens) because the American audience simply didn’t get it. Six years later, the Zucker brothers revived Neilsen as Drebin for ‘The Naked Gun’ on the big screen and the concept clicked. The movies are good, but this TV series was amazing. Now I think of it, you can probably watch the whole thing, or close to it, on Youtube… enjoy.