Hello everyone, my name is Jamie McLennan and I have taken my show on the road to the land of the rising sun – Japan.
Many of you may remember me from the long and illustrious career I had in the NHL (joking), but realistically I may be remembered for being a backup who tried to be a good teammate, worked hard and definitely liked to have lots of fun.
I was going to retire this summer and pursue other interests in hockey when I received offers in Europe and Russia. I took an offer in Russia and was there for six weeks when I decided that it wasn’t for me and we parted ways (another long story but not for this article).
Taking some time off was what I was doing when I was approached by my best buddy from growing up, Joel Dyck, who has been playing in Japan for 14 years and he told me I should come and play with him on his team to have a little fun and finish our careers together.
So I enlisted my good friend Tyson Nash and together we signed contracts to play for the Nippon Paper Cranes.
I will be documenting our weekly adventures and trying to keep some pictures along the way. Please keep in mind that although Tyson has made this transition very easy, he has also given me an easy target for some friendly ribbing along the way.
As you will see, I reference his nose, shortness, leather skin and horse teeth in some of my documentation. It is all in fun and for the people who know him, he is a very funny person with a great sense of humor, so you can only imagine what he says about me.
The first week here was good. We landed in Tokyo together and we did encounter a minor setback early. On my way through customs I was stopped and made to explain why I was importing an exotic bird with an enormous beak, leather skin, short legs and uncharacteristically long feathers.
I made them aware that, although loud, chirpy and surprisingly loaded with grayish wooden teeth, the animal was friendly and that people in Canada referred to the little guy as Tyson Nash.
Upon checking his I.D., we were allowed to enter the country unmolested.
We are excited to be here, but the time change has messed us up so we are trying to sleep lots to get on the time zone.
We have also been experiencing some neat things here. The first night here the team threw a party for us at a local restaurant. The whole organization, including coaches, managers as well as company executives, were present and they proceeded to welcome us with speeches and some of the local traditional drinks (Sake).
It was quite exciting until they asked us to stand up and make a speech. The quickest thing I could come up with was having the translator explain how Nasher would need a windshield off an old car for a visor.
The boys seemed to enjoy that as we proceeded to the next stop, a karaoke bar, where we dominated the microphone for hours.
Nothing can explain the feeling of doing a duet with a rookie Japanese player who has had a few drinks and only speaks about seven words in the English language, none of which were in the song we sang.
Needless to say I carried him in the song and later he returned the favor by carrying me home as I quickly learned what my tolerance for Sake was…WOW!
Born in Edmonton, Jamie McLennan is a former NHL goaltender currently playing for the Nippon Paper Cranes of the ALIH (Asia League Ice Hockey). Nicknamed ‘Noodles,’ McLennan was drafted by the Islanders in 1991. He played 254 NHL games with the Flames, Rangers, Panthers, Wild, Blues and Isles, compiling a 80-109-33 record.
Keep up with McLennan’s regular blog at web.mac.com/gritster29/iWeb/Site/Welcome.html