Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Is My Life in Danger by Barry the Blogger, Practice Update, Roster Update and ECHL Overseas Deadline

The blog today should be outstanding because it is 4:00 am and I have been thinking about what to write for two hours. That's right, laid in bed from 2:00 am - 4:00 am wide awake with plenty of time to think. Why was I awake so early? I survived my second assassination attempt in the last seven days last night. Seems my "lovely bride" (we will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary in three months) has finally taken serious what I have said for years that I am worth more dead than alive.

I know it is TMI (too much information) but at 70 it is hard to make it through the night without having to get up to go to the bathroom at some point. I am much better than many of my friends here at Wrinkle Ranch, I mean Heritage Ranch, the active adult retirement community where I live. You might wonder how do I know the middle of the night potty habits of my friends. You have to trust me on this one, old folks talk about that stuff. Even the ones that don't talk give it away because I have been on many hunting and fishing trips with a bunch of guys crammed into a small house or cabin with one bathroom. Anyway, I digress.

On those occasions when I do get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom the entire process takes place in the dark. If I turn a light on any sleep for the night is over, plain and simple. I have perfected that trip over time to a point where I believe if I ever loose my sight I could get around our house just fine. It is so easy to get to the bathroom, stand up and feel for the corner of our iron bed frame, slide across the width of the bed touching the bed frame, straight ahead three steps to the bathroom entrance, feel for the granite on the "her side" vanity, follow the granite to the end, feel for the commode door and bingo, you have arrived for touchdown.

Assassination attempt #1 - After living in this house for 10 years and perfecting that trip to the bathroom to the point I can literally do it in my sleep my "lovely bride" decided to leave one of her many vanity drawers open. Yes it was the biggest drawer and it wasn't just cracked open an inch or two, it was wide open to make sure I would trip, fall, break my skull and die from blunt force trama. There are always travel company brochures laying around the house so I think she has already picked out a destination in some exotic place like Morocco or South America to help get over her grief of losing me in a "freak" accident. Unfortunately for her I survived with a big thigh bruise. I was so adept when I hit that vanity drawer I didn't even go down, close but I stayed on my feet.

Assassination attempt #2 - After a "sincere apology" the "lovely bride" convinced me leaving the drawer open was a mere accident and I foolishly bought the story but I am sure she was already plotting what to do next. She was smart as she waited a few days to allow me to get back in the routine and forget about assassination attempt #1. But last night she struck again. This time there was a booby-trap set up right in the middle of the floor. Same plan as before I am sure, trip, fall, hit head and die. Once again my superior athletic abilty came through and all I did was stub my little toe on the corner of the booby-trap (plastic container) and rip off the toenail. That turned out to be good thing because the toe was dripping blood all over so I had the pleasure of summoning the "lovely bride" out of bed to get something to wipe up the blood and use as a compress on the toe. Her post "assassination attempt" story is that she uses that container for something in our walk-in closet and was going to take the container into the shower to wash it off in the morning. 

To add insult to injury everything was cleaned up, the bleeding was stopped and we were back in bed by 2:00 am. I never slept a wink until I got up at 4:00 am. She was snoring in five minutes. I am sure she was dreaming about what to try next!

I will exact my revenge as the "lovely bride" aka Nancy will get up in a few hours and will have to read this story as she is the proofreader for the blog. On second thought there is no revenge possible, I am in a lose-lose situation. If there is no blog tomorrow please come looking for me!

The booby-trap


- I know you didn't come to the blog today to read about my trials and tribulations so here is an update on practice and the roster.

- The Allen Americans typically practice at 10:00 am and I usually arrive between 10:30 - 10:45 because to be honest I find practice kind of boring. Arriving late gives me plenty of time to see who isn't skating, line combinations, defensive pairings and what coach Martinson is working on without sitting through warmups, stretching, and the early practice drills I have seen a 1000 times. I can catch players as they come off the ice after practice and stop by Martinson's office to ask him any questions I might have. This process works great and there are usually fans watching the entire practice that fill me in on anything I may have missed. Yesterday I arrived at my usual time around 10:45 only to find out practice wasn't starting until noon. So I sat myself down on a bench right outside the locker room, pulled out my iPad and began to visit all of the hockey sites I keep track of each day. What happened over the next 75 minutes was a reminder of something my wrestling coach/gym teacher used to say all the way back in ninth grade. "The power of observation is very important in sports and in life, talk less and observe more." Here are some of my observations in that 75 minutes on the bench, things I would have never seen had I not arrived so early.

- I first noticed a player arriving from a distance carrying all of his equipment (hockey bag and sticks) and wondered who could that be. It was David Makowski returning from Indy where he represented the Americans at the ECHL All-Star game. I asked him one question as he was headed to the locker room, "How did you enjoy the experience?" The first thing he said wasn't about his team (Mountain Division) winning the three-on-three tournament, it wasn't the fact that he was the leading scorer (2 goals, 1 assist) in the final game and it wasn't that he wore the "C" for his team. The first thing he said was he got to participate in the ceremonial puck drop and Wayne Gretzky dropped the puck so he got to shake his hand and have a brief word. Gretzky also came in the locker room and addressed the All-Stars. David sounded more like a young fan meeting a hockey hero than an All-Star. A great story! 

- Next I ran into Angie Gill and her young son Jackson who came to watch practice and meet up with Riley who was at the rink rehabbing from his injury. Jackson will be three in July and arrived at the rink with his favorite things. A hockey mask, his favorite stick (right shot but Jackson is a lefty), one glove (the other was left in the car). Jackson got a puck from one of his favorites, Zamboni driver, Geoff Gill (no relation) and he was in his element. All I can say from my observation of this activity is Jackson is "all boy" and soon to be three year old that loves his hockey. My other observation is his mom, who is expecting baby boy number two in a few months, is one patient lady!

- I have to admit I couldn't stop smiling as Jackson waited for every player to come out of the locker room headed to the ice so he could fist bump (glove hand only) each one. It made the players smile too as he was wearing his goalie mask the entire time. Too much fun!

- I was also lucky enough to observe Gary Steffes being Gary Steffes. He was in the locker room saying goodbye to his teammates and he was in coach Martinson's office to say his farewell and that is to be expected. But I also saw him saying goodbye to a special fan (I won't share her name) who stopped by just to see Gary. Then he had a private moment with Geoff (Zamboni driver) and gave him a big bear hug to say good-bye. All you have to do is observe Gary Steffes to see he is a special human being who has impacted so many in such a positive way. What a bright light he is!

- The final observation I had while waiting for practice to begin has to do with the players that are injured. There is nothing worse if you make your living playing a sport than not being able to play. Sitting on that bench watching players heading back to the trainer's room for treatment, ride the stationery bike or run the stairs in the arena gives you an appreciation for what they go through to get back in the lineup. Injuries are part of the game and it is what it is but the frustration is observable.

- The time before practice was well spent and I certainly learned a lot by observing more and talking less.

- Coach Martinson started practice by gathering the team together and sharing with them the same thing he shared with the season ticket holders during the post game chat on Monday. There has been way too many turnovers at the blue line and those turnovers lead to less puck possession time and more opportunities for the opponent. It is a big reason why the Americans are being out shot. He also talked to the team about the lack of physical play, not finishing checks and being easy to play against. He reminded the team everyone has been playing no matter what mistakes they have made because the team is shorthanded but players will soon be back from injuries, players will return from the AHL and he has a vet slot available he is looking to fill. The message was things need to change and they need to change right now.

- It was a spirited practice for sure but ended with a fun three-on-three competition scrimmage with the goals crosswise between the blue line and the end boards. With the team being shorthanded it is the best way to scrimmage and it was also fun for the guys.

- After practice, when I asked Martinson about the roster for the weekend he said doesn't expect any of the injured players to be back, he doesn't anticipate signing any players this week but he does expect to have more players. That says to me one or two players may be assigned from the AHL. Will have to keep an eye on AHL transactions today to see if any players are assigned/returned to Allen. UPDATE: Spencer Asuchak and Colby McAuley are back in Allen and will accompany the team when they leave for their road trip to Indiana tonight.

DID YOU KNOW: The deadline for signing players from Europe is fast approaching and is now less than a month away. With an open veteran spot I am sure coach Martinson is using his many contacts to find a player that would like to come to Allen in hopes of a long playoff run. Players must return from Europe by February 15 (3 pm EST) to be eligible to play in the ECHL.


  1. Thanks for making me smile! Sorry about your toe...this was a great blog!

  2. Leave the toilet seat up. That is payback enough in my book.

  3. Your opening portion of the blog made me giggle today Barry. I am so sorry for the traps that you feel are being set for you. I hope your toe feels better for leaving the seat up for revenge, as a female, I would advise against this. This will only cause an escalation in the 'traps' being set and you might really get seriously injured.

    I also liked reading about your pre-practice observation. I know I will miss seeing Gary on the ice in an Americans sweater and I am sure he is going to miss his Allen hockey family. We were all so blessed to have him join us again if only for a short time. Personally, I love knowing that he is helping form the future players of this great game. He is instilling in them his work ethic, love of the game, and love of Christ...what more could we ask for from him!

  4. Great blog this morning! Smiles were certainly present while reading the blog. I noticed according to that Asuchak and McAuley are headed back to Allen.

  5. Barry.. you are awesome.. I was having a crappy day at work, finally got a short break to head to Facebook to read your blog and I was LMAO.. loved your story.. I could for sure relate to most of it.. made it that much better.. hope your toe gets better soon and as I have told you before.. thanks for keeping all the fans informed and laughing!!

  6. That was a good story Barry. I am printing this for my wife as she has tried to do the same to me.

  7. Great blog, Barry. It appears Nancy is a worthy adversary.