I’m sitting here soaking up the sun at my summer home in California with my feet up. Life’s tough, right?
While I indulge in the annual off-season pleasures, my mind is trapped elsewhere.
Part of me is still stuck in Portland, where this year’s American League playoff run has left a sour taste in my mouth. I’d trade the palm trees and sandy beaches for the rink in a heartbeat. But that’s beside the point.
Instead, we were thrown brooms. The fact is we got swept, plain and simple.
Before I could blink, we were on the ropes – our season and pride on the line.
We faced a hot Manchester Monarchs team that was fueled with momentum after winning eight of their past 10 heading into the playoffs. It didn’t help that Manchester’s goalie, Jonathan Bernier, stood on his head. We set a franchise record for shots on goal in our final game, absolutely shelling the young ‘tender with rubber. But it was like we were firing blanks.
Every hockey fan and his brother know the playoffs are a different beast and the Monarchs quickly reminded us of that.
But it gets worse.
Before the loss could set in, the team dismantled. A number of guys were called up to the Sabres, where another playoff defeat added more salt to the wound. Others, like myself, made quick travel plans and headed home.
It’s funny how one day we’re bleeding for each other and the next everyone is going their separate ways.
Now, the other part of me has gone fishing, metaphorically speaking. I’ve cast a few lines out there and I’m waiting to see what comes back.
One line is in Europe, where a fervent hockey market could be my new home come training camp. I’ve also entertained the thought of embarking into the coaching world and have explored some opportunities with Anaheim.
I also might step away from the game for the time being and finish what I started in the late ‘90s – my degree.
Options galore. Lucky me.
Sitting here, feet up as I thrive on the NHL playoffs, I’ve realized something. I need to prepare myself for anything, because who knows what tomorrow will bring…
Defenseman Joe DiPenta returns to the North America after spending 2008-09 with the Frolunda Indians of the Swedish Elite League. The 31-year-old, who won a Stanley Cup with the Anaheim Ducks in 2006-07, will blog throughout the season about his experiences on the Buffalo Sabres/Portland Pirates blueline. Read his other blogs HERE.