Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Hockey Life: Like the old days

The Lightning's Big Three reunited, if only for a moment:
Philadelphia's Vinny Lecavalier, New York's Brad Richards and Tampa Bay's Marty St. Louis.
During the school year, I look forward to the holiday breaks and teacher-training sessions within the calendar. Sure, they're days I get to spend with Colin. But when three NHL teams visit within a week, like they did last week, we put that free time to good use.

Despite my best intentions, I haven't done as much hounding as I had hoped to this season. Between freelance projects, my real job and Colin's hockey, I've had to pass on some teams, even my beloved Buffalo Sabres. So, this was a way to catch up, so to speak, in more ways than one.

Back in the day -- primarily meaning when we lived in the Boston area -- very seldom did I miss any NHL team coming to town, easily having 30-plus adventures a season, not including trips for American Hockey League teams. My hockey bag would hold 20, sometimes 25, pucks for teams. I'd have four cards for most every player, coach or analyst.

It was all about racking them up.

These days, though, that isn't the case. I seldom carry more than five or six pucks. The card books aren't nearly as thick. And, really, when Colin's with me, it's more about him scoring autographs, especially when it comes to his hand-drawn team sheets. That's exactly what we did last week.

All told, we added nearly 110 autographs to the collection. Of that amount, we had the best luck with the Philadelphia Flyers and, of course, the Tampa Bay Lightning. In one day alone, in a span of little more than four hours, we snagged more than we did from the other two teams -- the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins. Sometimes, that's just the way it is.

Still, we got some big names for our efforts - the Rangers Henrik Lundqvist and Brad Richards, the Lightning's Marty St. Louis, Philly's Vinny Lecavalier and Claude Giroux and Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury. Yes, it would've been nice to add a couple more from Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to the mix, but Colin was one person away when Crosby stopped signing and Malkin went straight from the hotel to the team bus.

Just like Boston, you win some and you lose some.

Honestly, though, there are no complaints. Not when I get to spend time with my favorite hounding buddy, catch up with old friends, have a few laughs with familiar faces and add to the collection. Even better, the Christmas break is only a few weeks away. I'm sure we'll find time to get in a little hounding then, too, maybe even some college teams.

Until then, you can look forward to reports from past hounding adventures. The autographs, dating to mid October, are stacking up.

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