Well, I think the title says it all. I have jokingly teased about my upcoming retirement from hockey for a long time. There were times I had knee pain enough to actually consider it, but in the end, I always found ways to make sure that I always could play.
First, lets go back to the beginning. I was born double jointed in my knees which I really didn’t see as a benefit. I played a variety of sports from basketball, cross country, track, and wrestling in high school. I really wasn’t good, but I was always enjoying being part of the team. After I graduated college, I was looking for something new to do. I didn’t want to be one of these hockey fans that never put on skates and played hockey. Armchair fans really suck in my opinion, so I started playing hockey.
Now, hockey was something that wasn’t easy for me. I couldn’t skate, but I learned how to skate as I played. It took me years of playing a few times a week to earn my first championship in hockey. I had a lot of great success playing through the years. I made many friends, and rivalries along the way. It was the perfect team sport to be a part of. I wish I had done this at an earlier age, but I was having way too much fun with it to even think about it.
One thing that really helped me was being double jointed in my knees. I have had many people ask me how I do what I do, and its because of being double jointed in my knees. I can fan out when I go down covering a larger portion of the net than other butterfly goalies. Its not perfect, or faster, but its my style and my style has done me well in the past. Sure, I have changed a lot when it came to my playing style in terms of how far I come out and my reaction time, but my base style has always been the same which is take away everything low.
Back about two years ago, I started having pains in my knees and it was a little hard to bear at times. Visits to my doctor office showed the cartilage in my knees was giving out.
This gives you a good idea of where the problem lies. The cartilage has been slowly wearing away since I started playing hockey. The doctor and I have tried a few different things, and there has been little change. The cartilage still has been wearing thin as I have been playing. Part of the problem is the way that I play, and how often over the last 5-6 years.
So now, with my last appointment, I am becoming faced with the reality that I really am at the end of the road. I will have a couple choices to make here.
1. Retire from hockey, and get a shot of gel in my knees that should remove the grinding in my knee, and continue to be able to skate and ref.
2. Keep playing until the cartilage gives out, and opt for gel or probably knee surgery.
3. Retire from hockey and skating all together and do other non impact sports such as swimming.
Man, talk about a tough decision.
I have been swimming with this in my head for a while now, and although it pains me to say it, I am leaning toward option 1. I don’t think I can walk away from the game of hockey entirely, but I do think its time for a change. A very serious change that is really going to change my world.
So what have I decided to do?
I will retire from goaltending officially in July 2010. This gives me time to work on my skating more over the summer so I can get certified in USA Hockey refereeing level 2 in Fall of 2010. It also gives me time to finish out my next two seasons of roller and play a full season of ice hockey with some friends I have always wanted to play with.
This decision did not come without a lot of thought, and regret at the same time. I am still going to pursue other avenues so I can play, but as of right now, my decision stands.
What about the teams I currently play for? I will be asking my brother or another good friend of mine to step in for me and take over indefinitely.
I also give a promise to update my blog with every game I play from now until I am finished. I want to look back on these last games and know how I did and in much better detail than before.
More to come later….