The annual Islanders prospect camp was conducted this week, and Lighthouse Hockey posted a series of dispatches from a hopeful young player trying to make the roster this year. The player's name, hometown, position, height and weight will be kept anonymous. So don't bother trying to figure out who it is.
I would like to announce my retirement from NHL eligibility, effective immediately. I made Mr. Snow aware of my desire go back home and have my family there with me. The hardest part is leaving the New York Islanders, an organization I have a great respect for and the fans who have been great to me.
How did I come to this decision? Well, after three days of drills, 20 new workout techniques and about 45 Chipotle burritos, us prospects were finally able to play each other in the Islanders annual Blue and Orange scrimmage. We had been waiting all week for this game, with some guys practically sleeping on the benches at night.
I figured I didn't need to pay that much attention to the drills and stuff because hockey's just what I do. The scrimmage would be a skate in the park.
Turns out I was dead-ass wrong.
As soon as I stepped on the ice, it hit me: this is real. Like, really real. Like, the rest of my life depends on this.
This isn't Uncle Gord tying my wrists and ankles to a net and shooting pucks at my nards. That's just horsing around. But this scrimmage could determine how the next 75-80 years will be for me.
I played in the scrimmage and took a regular shift but I have no memory of anything happening other than me freezing up. I don't even know who won (although it went to a shootout, apparently. Not sure how. I don't remember anything at all about the third period).
My teammates told me that a fan accidentally spilled a half a beer on me as we went back to the dressing room after the first period. I had no idea that happened, although by the smell of my jersey, it seems they were right.
As I looked around at the other prospects, I began to question myself. These guys are obsessed with making the NHL. They eat, sleep and breathe it. You can see it in the way they talk and train and actually listen to the coaches really, really closely. The only thing I heard the coaches say all week is what makes a good burrito and how to check out girls in the stands and not get caught.
The other guys are really determined to become NHLers. Some of them look like they're destined to be NHLers. Meanwhile, I'm sitting on the bench counting the seconds until the game was over and drinking Gatorade and changing sticks just to look busy.
That's when I looked in the stands at Nassau Coliseum. And in between all those Islanders fans there, I saw my Uncle Gord. He had come all the way down from REDACTED to see me play. And after all that torture he put me through all my life, he looked genuinely happy to see me playing with these top prospects for a real NHL team. He was cheering my name and pointing saying, "that's my nephew."
And I knew right then and there what I needed to do next.
I'm going back to REDACTED to get my degree in Child Psychology and Youth Counseling. I want to help other kids find the perfect place for them and teach them how to reach it. No one should have to put up with an Uncle Gord or find themselves way out of their depth, with nowhere to turn and surrounded by a few thousand strangers watching their every move.
Sure I'm turning down a chance to make crazy money. But I really feel this is the best thing I can do.
Plus, if I find I want to play hockey in the future, I can probably find a team in Russia to take me.
Previously in Prospect Camp Diaries:
Still fake. Still not real. Still can't believe Kovalchuk retired yesterday.