22 September 2017

Hockey Road Trip: Sunshine State Safari


Florida. The Final Frontier. Or as some might even call it, The Sunshine State. So often in my life, everything comes back to Florida.

Just like so many Navy brats before and after me, Florida was my home for a brief period. More than once, in fact. Not long after I was born in the suburbs of Chicago, my father would get transferred to the Jacksonville area for a short stint in the late 1970’s. At the dawn of the following decade, we were shipped off to Maine for nine months, returning back to Jacksonville as I began kindergarten in 1981. My memories of Florida aren't too vivid, though I do distinctly recall my mother working for a local aquarium. Midway through my first year of grade school, the family would return to Illinois, but it wouldn't be the last time I'd set foot in The Sunshine State.

As I was finishing up my studies in film school, a couple of my classmates made a deal with a would-be producer to make a short film in Florida, which we would shoot after we graduated in the summer of 2001. We had a crew of 10 and we spent a week on Sanibel Island, just off the gulf coast near Fort Myers. I remember how it rained for about 20 minutes every day, and how we were terrorized by the local insects (namely, the no-see-ums) on a daily basis. But it was a fun life experience that made everyone feel like working members of the film industry.

Once Chad and I detailed the plan to visit every NHL arena, we immediately focused our attention to arenas that were due to be replaced or teams who had legendary players that were set to retire soon. This led us to New Jersey in the first year of our voyages, to see Martin Brodeur and Jaromir Jagr (who is STILL playing professional hockey, as of this writing), so I then suggested that we go to Tampa to see Martin St. Louis, who was approaching 40 at the time. I was also a fan of the University of Florida football team and had always wanted to see a game there, so the plan was set: we'd visit Florida in the fall of 2014. But then something unexpected happened…

30 August 2017

Squire Report, Vol 1: Prelude


As I mentioned in my “Regeneration” post, I’ve decided to adopt the Vegas Golden Knights as my new favorite team. I’m fascinated with the idea of constructing a hockey team in the salary cap era, and it’s fun to cheer them on from Day One. My hope is to publish this report every month, and possibly even more often, as I’m sure I’ll feel the need to add an occasional “special report” from time to time. So without any further adieu, let’s get to it…

AN ACTUAL NHL ROSTER

When the NHL first announced that they were expanding to Las Vegas, the idea of a roster full of players seemed like such a distant memory - but with the completion of the Expansion Draft in late June, that was finally the case. GM George McPhee had the privilege of choosing one player from each of the 30 existing franchises, which led to massive speculation and increased interest from both fans and media for the preceding months. Even though the NHL had set up the expansion rules to allow Vegas to be as competitive as possible during their inaugural season (which likely would have hindered their long-term success), McPhee smartly opted to build this team for the future, making a series of shrewd transactions to maximize the potential of his “free” assets as follows:

- Acquiring draft picks and young expansion-exempt prospects in exchange for choosing high-salary players, some of whom may never play again due to injury;
- Selecting certain players specifically to trade them immediately afterward, through pre-arranged deals with the other GM’s across the league;
- Choosing older players with expiring contracts to move at the trade deadline for additional picks, rather than taking questionable unproven players that would have been susceptible to waivers had they not made the team.

This method of roster construction left naysayers to insist that McPhee had mishandled his draft selections in lieu of icing the best team possible. But when you look closer, there was a valid reason for most of his selections, starting with the fact that you can only have 23 players on the opening night roster. This limitation meant that McPhee had to find a way to get immediate value out of several of his selections, knowing that at least seven of the chosen players could be lost to waivers if he didn’t make the right decision. So he started wheeling and dealing…

25 August 2017

Regeneration

We all go through changes - it’s a part of life.

But how you face the inevitability of change should help to define you as a person. I’ve always felt that change, in general, should improve me in a way that I hadn’t yet realized, thereby allowing me the chance to see things with increased optimism. Why not learn from your surroundings, especially if it leads to personal satisfaction?

A lot has happened to me since I started this blog four years ago. I’ve made new friends, connected with fellow writers, and discovered the power of Twitter (for better or worse). My love of hockey has grown stronger as a result, and I’ve found that I can be actively engaged in my favorite sport while living and working in a town dominated by the entertainment industry. I also turned 40 years old - my mother became a grandmother at that age, but I wasn’t even close to finding love myself. But that all changed too...

I met Charlene in April 2016. Less than a year later, I asked her to marry me. She is a consistent inspiration in my daily life, and makes me want to be the best man that I can be. She is also a blogger, and we even had a lengthy discussion about our respective websites - and writing in general - during our first date. I’ve learned so much by following her example, and in turn she has used her experience to help me get the most out of my blog. She took it upon herself to design a logo for Hockey Transplant, helping to motivate me to get back on track and write with a purpose. She created business cards for me to hand out, got me to create an Instagram account, and - as one of the greatest birthday presents ever - had a t-shirt made with the HT logo.

She also introduced me to her favorite TV show...Doctor Who.

While the dictionary describes regeneration as “spiritual renewal or revival”, fans of the hit BBC series know that the word carries so much more meaning. In addition to the spiritual aspects of change, the element of physical transformation is also required when one Doctor transitions into the next - the difference is startling but welcome. The show prides itself of evolution and re-growth (two words: Female Doctor!), which is something sports fans should be used to by now. Whether it’s something as simple a rule change, or as drastic as a beloved player (or even team) changing locations, we’ve become accustomed to progress whether we like it or not. But what about changing the internal thought process that goes into being a sports fan itself? Could there be physical changes which might be induced at the same time?

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