For anybody not familiar with hockey players, I’m telling you that you’ll never find a closer group of guys. Your teammates are your family and the bond you share with them is truly something that people rarely, if ever, find. This week just seemed to be one of those that proved my point to the extreme.
With Andrey heading back to Moscow this past Wednesday, the beginning of last week was focused primarily on getting things together with him. He’s only going to be gone until the middle of June, but there were still plenty of loose ends to take care of. Tuesday night, we threw him a nice little going away party as well. Nothing fancy – just a little pizza, lots of good hockey on TV, and some good conversation. We drove him to the airport around 5pm the next da,y and it was a good thing I decided to go with. When we were checking him in, I noticed one of the airline employees say to the other, “That’s probably his agent.” It was pretty nice to then hear that they wouldn’t be charging him for any of the three items he checked – including the sticks which usually carry a pretty heavy travel bill. And I’m sure you can guess that he wasn’t flying Southwest. It’s been weird not having him around lately, but as I said, he’ll be back soon.
Wednesday morning the USA Hockey Tier I National Championships were getting underway in Woodridge, IL – just a few minutes from my office and home. I was able to make it over to the rink for pretty much all of the action Wednesday and Thursday and got to see some great hockey. Although it seems as though I might be gaining another advisee after the Tournament, at this point in the season I’m not really doing as much scouting and recruiting as I normally would – this was more of an opportunity to continue building some relationships with a few coaches and some of the scouts that I’d crossed paths with at the Steel games this year. Bottom line – it’s never a bad idea to be in the rink.
Unfortunately, on Thursday night I had to cut my stay at Nationals short. One of the local drinking establishments in Athens, Ohio was hosting their annual hockey tournament and I, along with about 20 other Ohio Hockey Alumni, was going to be making my pilgrimage back to OU. I’d be getting my first two days off of work since late January, and trust me, they couldn’t have been spent any better. I hadn’t seen most of my former teammates since I had graduated back in 2006m and being back with the old gang sure was enough to make the trip worth it. It was tough leaving town yesterday afternoon, but within hours of hitting the road, both Johnny “Friends are Forever” Yasak and I were already planning the trip for the 2011 Tournament. We’ll see if our idea to take an RV from Chicago pans out, but our initial headcount is a promising indication. And if anybody knows how much a Ohio Hockey Fathead for the outside of the vehicle would cost, please contact our good buddy Grady Clingan.
On the menu for this week is more draft prep for Andrey. We got his highlight DVD finalized and I’m really happy with what the guys at our company’s home office put together. There are still a couple of NHL teams that I’m trying to get a hold of to get their Director of Scouting’s mailing address, but for the most part I did a pretty good job of getting that stuff put together. Also, it looks like I’ll be signing two new kids in the coming weeks who are looking to play pro next season. That means I’ll have to start trying to find each of them a couple of good opportunities. On top of all that, with Matt’s season coming to a conclusion this coming Friday night, I’m going to try and schedule a meeting with his coach sometime next week to discuss where he sees Matt fitting in next year. I should be able to get Matt a few ECHL and possibly AHL tryout agreements over the summer and I’d like to get his coach’s feedback on this past year.
With the NHL Playoffs commencing on Wednesday, there probably isn’t a better time to be a hockey fan than right now. Congratulations to Boston College for capturing their fourth National title in school history, along with all those teams in USA Hockey that were able to bring home the banner after a tough week of play. I hope you all have a great week ahead of you and until next week…it’s time to hit the showers.