As told to: Joe Pack
It was the summertime. I had just spent two months in California after a year in Germany – which was a very challenging year – and I was hedging my bets. I was still working out like I was going to play. I had hired a career coach to figure out what I might be good at. My wife and kids had flown back home to Dryden, Ontario and I drove back three days straight up until Sunday night. On Monday morning, for whatever reason, I decided it was a workout day even after spending three days driving. I got in the squat rack and tweaked my back so I took a week off. I went back the following Monday and pulled my hamstring and I thought, “Somebody is trying to tell me something.” I was in my brother’s gym and we each had a house on the lake – obviously his is a bit bigger than mine – and I limped home, got an ice pack out of the freezer, went up to the bedroom and yelled downstairs to my wife, “That’s it, we’re done!” There was no other conversation, that was it. It was time to rip the band-aid off.
There was never a moment when I wondered if I’d done it too soon. None of that at all. I miss the start and finish of a season. It was a rather unspectacular finish, but there’s no regrets. Some guys have a hard time walking away and not being a hockey player. I think it would have been harder if I was an elite player. For me it was a constant struggle and retiring was a relief in a way.
JOE PACK is a freelance writer based in Toronto and a rec-league rent-a-goalie.
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