By: @JJtheHoser – Tweet me
When people talk about the most difficult hockey league in the world to play in, the easy answer is the NHL. Fame, fortune and some serious competition all contribute to making life in the NHL rewarding, but challenging. I mean, what other answer could there be besides the NHL as the hardest place to play hockey? The KHL? Swedish Hockey League?
I’m here today to tell you that is all bull crap, and you’re all missing the correct answer.
The hardest league in the world to play hockey in is your local beer league, and here’s the top 6 reasons why.
Getting to the games
Private planes transporting you from game to game. Full team staff to ensure your equipment is dry and waiting for you in the dressing room. Sounds like torture doesn’t it?
How about giving this a shot – you need to drive yourself in horrible winter conditions to a freezing cold arena for your game tonight. Once you arrive, you need to lug your own gear from your car across the vast parking lot to the equally cold dressing room, and hope the room isn’t packed so you can get ready with some space. Oh, and did I mention your game is at 11:30 pm tonight? Looks like work is going to suck at 6:00 am tomorrow. Welcome to beer league.
You know what motivates me to shine on the ice? Hearing the roar of the home crowd as I blaze down the wing to begin and offensive rush that should end in a goal. Or, sometimes the boos of the road crowd push me to crush the spirit of the home team and steal 2 points in a hostile environment.
Oh, you play in beer league? Then forget everything I just said. The only fans you’ll find here are the girlfriend of one of the opposing players who owed him a favor, and the kids of your goalie who couldn’t find a babysitter for tonight’s game. Looks like you need to find a new way to motivate yourself in the most challenging league to play hockey in.
That sweet paycheck
It’s ok. We might not have the cheering fans to motivate you that extra little bit, but at the end of the month, that big fat paycheck for your efforts makes everything a little easier to take. Time to pay off those student loans, buy your parents a house, and take that well earned vacation.
Wait a second, this is beer league. Not only are you *not* paid for putting your body on the line each week, but you actually have to pay several hundred dollars a season just for the opportunity to go out there and make a fool of yourself. Those professionals have it so easy with their giant bank accounts.
Don’t worry – things may seem bleak, but you go out there and give it 110% each and every shift anyways. When things go a little unlucky and you suffer an injury, there is world class medical care at your disposal at all times of the day and night. They’ll keep you pain free, and speed up that recovery to get you back out on the ice as soon as possible.
Except that’s not how life works in the beer league. Injured yourself? Bummer. After the game you get to drive yourself to the hospital and wait for hours in the emergency room. Your medical care and medication costs for pain relief come out of your own pocket. Oh, you’re too injured to go to work the next day? Well, there’s more money out of your pocket as you can’t make a living now. What about playing in the NHL is hard compared to beer league anwyays?
Playing with the most skilled players in the world sounds challenging at first, but let’s think about this. When everyone on the ice is some of the lucky few blessed with natural athletic ability, the game slows down in the mind. Passes are crisp and to the tape. You’re able to rip a rocket top shelf if given even a single moment to get it off. Accelerating to back check? Easier than riding a bike.
Well, not in beer league. You can forget all about passes to your tape – you’re often lucky if a pass is even within reaching distance of your absurdly large hand-me-down stick. Have an opportunity to shoot? Shame you have no talent and sent it about five feet wide. Need to back check to slow an oncoming attack? Bummer that you’re out of shape, and the only thing you’re going to catch out here is a cold. This is the real challenge of playing hockey.
Opportunity to practice
Never fear though. You may have survived all the previous difficulties and still keep chugging in beer league. The good news is there will be plenty of practices during which your team can bond and work on their game together on the ice. Set up the powerplay attack, work on the penalty kill positioning, and finally master the breakout.
Alas, no. Despite the cost of playing beer league, practices aren’t included. Even if you do manage to find extra ice team for your team to work on their game, good luck getting everyone to show up. It’s enough of a challenge to get 10 skaters and a goalie to an actual game – for a practice? You may as well have the entire ice to yourself. Also, that’s another $150 please.
In summary, it’s clear that while those talent filled millionaires in the NHL may want you to think they have it rough, nobody knows a challenge like your local beer league hockey player.
Hit the Share button or tag a beer leaguer to let them know you understand them. We are all after all, finely tuned athletes playing in the hardest hockey league in the world. Next time you see one, buy him or her a beer. It will be well appreciated.