It seems almost funny to start a post with those words, but the end is always one of those inevitable things that we know is coming.
Seasons start and it's almost like before we know it they come to an end.
The same can be said with hockey careers.
Now that I'm a coach I get to see it every year. I get to see how it effects different players realizing, or at least acknowledging, that their hockey career is over.
For the most part, in my experience, you don't realize that it's actually over and instead just look at it is as another end of the season and a break. It's only after a few months go by that you start to realize that it's actually over... That's when the truth starts to click in.
I haven't played competitive hockey since 2009 and the crazy thing is that I still miss it.
I miss the atmosphere, I miss the teammates, the emotions, the competition, and as shocking as it may be I miss the grind.
The fact that it's actually over is a hard thing to realize when you're caught right in the moment. And it's something that I feel like most players who truly love the game deal with.
For me personally, I was devastated. It was my senior year of college and we were ramping up for the final month of the season. I knew in the back of my head that the end was on the horizon but I always felt like I had more time.
Then before I knew it, I tore up my knee and just like that it was done.
6 months of rehab.
Definitely not how I envisioned it ending, but none the less reality had struck and it was harsh.
I was lost and I felt like one of the biggest parts of me was gone. I always thought of myself as a hockey player. And now I was being forced to deal with the fact that I wasn't a hockey player anymore, but rather I used to be a hockey player. Man that was a punch to the gut.
But luckily for me, I was given a chance to stay involved with the game through coaching.
I've always tried to make a point to those seniors that the ride goes by quick and they need to make the most of every situation and everyday that they get.
Sure it sounds corny and cheesy to say those things but the reality is that it's true.
It's hard to make someone realize that something they've spent so much time and energy in, is all the sudden going to be over.
I've talked a lot about it throughout this blog... making the most of every opportunity and being able to look yourself in the mirror and be proud of the effort from the person looking back at you.
The truth is, those are the things that will really matter...not some goal that you scored in an arbitrary game.
For all of us, the clock is ticking.
In hockey and in life.
It's crazy how fast everything moves along.
Don't waste a day and don't waste an opportunity because I can guarantee that there's nothing worse than having regret.
So if you know, or feel, like the end of your career is coming, I challenge you to commit yourself even more. Grind harder than you ever have and make sure you leave it all out on the ice. Don't leave yourself with even the slightest bit of doubt...
Think about it this way....if you fast forwarded your life ten years and thought back to how your playing career ended, how would you want it to be remembered? Don't be that person who was wishing they did more, be that person who said they did all the could and loved every minute of it.
Enjoy the ride because it'll end up being one of the fastest trips you take.
And best of luck to all those players out there who are about the face the reality of 'the end'.