The Barnstormer has secured the cooperation of a locked-out NHL player who has agreed to document each day he is kept out of action on the condition that we do not reveal his identity. Ever. Read all the daily diary entries of “Cheap Throat” here.
7:14AM — Whoa. Whoa. Is a turkey hangover a thing? Because if so, ouch. Not helping: Dad already outside my window chopping wood. Every time I see my folks, they sleep less and shrink more.
7:30AM — Mum unbelievably cheery this morning. Can’t handle it. She’s singing. Keeps patting my head and shoulder. I guess it’s okay to be unemployed if you’ve already brought in a few million before your brothers had their first kids. Also, pretty sure I was always their favourite son.
8:30AM — We’re out of bacon so mum’s microwaving some turkey. What the hell.
8:39AM — Apparently Dad’s pissed I’m still eating while he’s outside swinging an axe with only a bowl of oatmeal and about 30 pills in his belly. Fair enough. Mum finds my old work boots and they still fit. I lace them tight as skates. Feels good.
9:14AM — Got Dad a cup of coffee and told him to sit and watch and talk to me while I swing the axe for a while. Holy shit, it feels good to chop something in half. If this were a normal season I’d probably be worried about my shoulders or back or something, maybe take it easy. Right now? Balls out. I’m swinging with everything I’ve got. Don’t tell my agent or my team.
10:30PM — Everything chopped and stacked in the back of the garage. Mum and Dad’ll have enough wood for the winter. Dad and I inside, more coffee, sit and watch SportsCentre. They do a thing about the lockout and get it all wrong. I tell dad how it really is. “You’re all a bunch of fucking babies,” he says. “Millionaire babies. Just tell your guy to fix it and go and play hockey already. You get to play a damned game. What the hell are you complaining about?”
Didn’t know he felt like that.
12:15PM — Every lunch should have leftover stuffing in it and be followed by a nap.
1:55PM — First nap didn’t take. Still groggy. Going back for seconds.
3:19PM — Up. Feel good. Like really good. Feel like going for a run in the woods. Am GOING to go for a run in the woods. Love those woods, just down the road from mum and dad’s. Used to ride bikes in there, play war and hide and seek and build forts in there. Took girls back there in high school, got mosquito bites on our asses. Love those woods.
4:32PM — So I was running in the woods down a trail I know like the back of my hand. Everything the same, maybe the trees a little taller. Beautiful clear day, getting dark, wind blowing and leaves falling. It smelled like being 10 years old. So awesome. I came around this bend and there, like right in front of me, maybe 20, 30 yards away, is this deer. It was so big! Like, massive! Big rack on its head, huge chest, just looking at me. Or looking through me. Everything was totally quiet. I just stood there, looking at it, looking at me. I was thinking about being out here with Dad and the boys, rifles in our hands. Then I took a step and some leaves or twigs crunched under my Nike and the thing took off, didn’t make a sound, like it flew away. I saw it jumping through the forest, and then it was gone. It was like it was never even there. Thought for a moment maybe it wasn’t, that it might be all in my head.
10:59PM — Dinner done (leftovers), beers with Dad, an argument over what to watch on Netflix (me: It’s Complicated, them: The Bucket List), then listening to Dad’s political rants for a half hour, now finally time for bed. Totally bagged. But I can’t stop thinking about that buck. Just standing there. Thinking about what? Anything?
And here’s what kills me: that deer is perfectly happy living its life, running through the forest, growing antlers, eating, and it has never heard of hockey. Never. Can you imagine that?
Further NHL Lockout Reading:
- “Cheap Throat: The Diary of a Locked-Out NHLer“. Read all the other entries here.
- “A Fan’s Note: How to Fix the NHL” by Mike Spry
- “Complicit in the NHL’s Demise: How the NHL & its players hate hockey, and how the fan is at fault” by Mike Spry
- The Barnstormer’s Take Hockey Back fan protest event