As my surgeries mounted, my skills eroded. There were one or two lumbar surgeries where I was back on the ice after only a week. It got harder and harder. It was difficult bending over to tie my skates. On the ice it took longer and longer for my body to react. It was frustrating to be frustrating to my teammates.
Most of the guys didn't care. Scotty Miller, the organizer, goalie and beer supplier for the Thursday night pick up group was happy to have me be there. I was a body. I had my $20 bucks. I was a good guy. Others weren't so appreciative. There was one Guy who would yell at me when I screwed up a play. The thing was he was terrible. He was worse than me even though he was healthy.
There was another player, a guy named Mike. Nice enough guy. He was my benchmark. I figured as long as he played I could play because he was awful. If I ever felt like I was worse than him I would hang them up. Then he died. Not on the ice, mind you. But he got sick and died. I played for a while longer, until I took the puck to the face. Then I started playing with the full cage. I couldn't stand that. I probably went out with my son a half a dozen more times after that. Then I went on to only reffing.
I have hockey dreams. I had them during the time after college when I wasn't skating and I get them now. The dreams almost always involve Uconn, not being able to find the rink and when I do I'm unable to get on the ice due to missing or broken equipment. Analyze that!