I finally feel like I can breathe again. Big, deep breaths.
Ah, we’re home. The hockey bags are hidden!
So the off season has officially begun, for me anyway, and while it's nice to be home and take a few deep breaths, I know that feeling of relief won't last long. It's just a matter of time before we are consumed, once again, by hockey.
The off season carries it's own special set of stresses. Ask anyone who isn't signed to a multi-year deal and they'll tell you that the off season can often be more stressful than the regular season. Especially when you have a family to provide for.
Within 48 hours of my flight touching down, three people had already asked me what we were doing next season. I felt like I was breaking up with a boyfriend as I stumbled through the answer.
I just need some time. I mean, the season isn't even over yet. I need some space. I'm still recovering from this season. I'm scarred. I don’t know what I want.
I'm just not ready to go there.
Sure, there's a certain level of excitement in awaiting offers, especially if you're planning to play across the pond. Germany? Austria? Sweden? France? Italy? I start planning trips and daydreaming about wardrobes in my head before we've even got anything on the table. That's the fun part.
But it's difficult to enjoy your 'down time' when you don't know where you'll be living in four months. At least it is for me. I'm a fairly high strung person. I like to be in control. And while I run my husband's show, hockey runs mine. I can't control a damn thing. And it's taken me almost four years admit it.
I have a hard time understanding how my husband can be so relaxed. I know that he is affected by some of the stress (take my posts about Germany falling apart as an example) but generally speaking, he just goes with the flow; waits for someone to call him or to place something in his lap. It drives me up the wall. I can't tell you how many times I have threatened to call his agent. And he still has to remind me that hockey isn't like anything else. You can't force or convince someone to give you an opportunity. And apparently, hockey players don't beg for jobs. I may have suggested that a time or two ... out of desperation.
It's not easy to place your hopes and potential livelihood in the hands of someone else; someone who isn't seriously invested in you or your family. Someone who, more or less, considers you to be just another number.
When offers do come in, they aren't always what you were hoping for. Sometimes they're fantastic. Sometimes they're insulting. And then there's usually some creative negotiating. When we signed in Italy, we had everything but the kitchen sink in our contract and I think we're all pretty clear on how well that worked out. When we signed in Germany, we made sure they knew we needed a crib for Linden but didn't touch the contract aside from signing it. We were just happy to have the opportunity.
This year, I think we'll be more focused on covering our asses than anything else. I'll sleep on the floor if they'll pay us in full. That's not true. Maybe a cot?
All in all, the stress of the off season is just part of territory. The off season is also a time, especially for my husband, to unwind. It's a time for us to hang out with the friends we don't see for most of the year. Take weekend trips to wherever. Do all the things we can't do during the season. But hockey never goes away. We're never settled very long. We never know where we're going. And we are always hoping, wherever we land, that we land softly.
I know that (God willing) I will be dragging those stupid hockey bags out again, before I know it, but man if felt good to toss them in the garage! If I never see them again, it will be too soon.
That’s not true either … God, please find my husband a contract in Europe!