Inevitably it comes, the time of year that most hockey fans love to hate, the off-season. While it isn’t upon us quite yet, the thought process that it will be, sooner, rather than later has crept into view. With the regular season coming to an end and the Stanley Cup Playoffs facing off beginning April 16th, not everyone will see their favorite team in the race to hoist Lord Stanley.
Sure, you’ll watch the final two teams fight for all the glory, spill blood, pour sweat, with both sides shedding tears at the final outcome — but before you know it, it will be you, the fan, hypothetically crying, as summer and an ever long off-season skate into view. All while you’re left twiddling your thumbs, looking for any way to bide the time until training camp opens and the puck drops on a new season in October.
Of course, you’re probably thinking: Isn’t this a little preemptive? Isn’t the off-season still so far away? The harsh reality of the situation, is that once playoffs begin, fans are only a few sleepless nights away from the inevitable outcome, the nightmare of an abundance of time and nothing to fill it with. Perhaps you already have another sport lined up, ready and waiting for your undying devotion. But for many of you, hockey is the only sports love that gets your heart pumping, blood flowing and brings a smile to your face.
Why not transition those emotions into activities off the ice? Yes, it’s easier said than done, but having an off-season bucket list of sorts will help ease the pain of endless NHL Network re-runs and an over abundance of baseball on the TV.
Here are a few ideas that have skated towards the top of our off-season bucket list:
1. Buy an air hockey table. Whether a hockey player or fan, the competitive feeling you get on the ice or in the arena can be swept into the emotions of a game at home. Playing air hockey at the arcade has been a beloved affair for kids through adults — but owning a table of your very own should be on everyone’s list. A very important of note, pricing on air hockey tables range dramatically and there tends to be a table to fit almost every budget. A friendly resource for air hockey tables and so much more, Homeclick — the site offers a huge inventory.
2. Pick up roller hockey: This almost seems like a no-brainer, but the concept of roller hockey is often overlooked. For ice-hockey players, the benefits of grabbing a pair of blades, ball and a street hockey stick are endless. Street hockey sticks retail for $20 or less and a ball runs $8-10. The roller blades are a bit more costly but a lot of websites run great deals, not to mention second hand sports stores, local yard sales and sites like Craigslist are a cost effective alternative. It’s a fun way to practice stick handling and all of your on ice skills in a sunny, off-ice summer environment. Just remember the sunblock, you aren’t under the rink lights anymore.
3. Grow an Herb “Brooks” garden: Perhaps intense athletic activities aren’t your thing, and that’s okay. Or maybe you’re the type of person who looks for multiple off-season activities to fill your time — growing an herb garden is a great idea. Whether you have all the garden space in the world, or you’re confined to a pot on the balcony of your apartment, fresh herbs make so many summer recipes that much better. There are also quite a few ideas online for freezing the herbs you’ve grown all spring and summer in olive oil or by themselves for use further down the line — in an opening night dinner recipe perhaps. Don’t be afraid to add a little hockey flair to your garden by decorating each herb marker with a team logo or player. Stanley Sage, Toews Thyme, Predators Parsley, Chara Chives… you get the drift.
The off-season is the perfect time of year to explore new avenues and adventures. What are you waiting for, get your off-season bucket list going!