Where to start with this?
It's been a long year for me. Speaking only about the hockey team, doing game previews this past season was completely draining. Forcing myself to try to write coherently about this team was, at times, nearly impossible. I am sure these feelings of hopelessness were there at many times for all of you, as well. So, I don't consider myself having had a "worse" season than anyone. That's not what this is about.
This spring, some other stuff started happening outside of my work here at The Cannon. In late March, I developed an irregular heartbeat that simply wouldn't go away, no matter what my doctor tried. It ended up resulting in me needing to go to the hospital and get a procedure in which they literally shocked my heart back to normal. Picture a stripped down version of "CLEAR!!!!" from a TV show. Thankfully, since then, with preventative medicine, it's been OK. But, for literally five and a half weeks, even a task so mundane as carrying a basket of laundry up a flight of stairs would send my heart rate skyrocketing; like, to the 180 BPM range.
I hopefully don't have to tell you how frustrating both mentally and physically this was for me, an otherwise healthy and very active person who played hockey two or three times per week.
After my procedure, while my heart rate was finally back to normal, I had to take blood thinners for a month to make sure I didn't have a stroke. This meant still almost no exercise, no hockey, and generally having to be super careful in everything I did. I couldn't risk a fall or an accident that would cause internal bleeding. I wasn't back on the ice for nine weeks. It was torture.
Also as part of this entire saga, I was diagnosed with sleep apnea, which explains a lot about both the heart issue as well as why I generally feel so shitty most mornings. All told, WITH good insurance, I've also managed to fork over a couple thousand dollars to get this taken care of. And the meter's still running.
That alone is enough to put one in a foul mood. However, after getting back to half-normal in May and then full-on normal in early June, I found out last week that my company is again downsizing, and even though I'm good at my job and have worked there for over 16 years, I simply cost to much and I'm losing my job so someone in India can do it for 15 cents on the dollar.
I have some options and some severance, so I'll be OK. But, fuck, man, if this hasn't been a stressful three-plus months...
So, back to hockey. I can't even tell you how much the Jackets winning that lottery pick helped me out mentally during my health issues. I couldn't play hockey, the season was terrible, but they were going to get an elite guy. As you probably all know, I was adamantly against moving this pick. WE WON A TOP THREE PICK IN A THREE PLAYER DRAFT. As we got closer and closer to the draft, and more and more chatter came up that we might trade the pick, you all probably saw in my comments how pissed it made me. I maintained it was one of the dumbest things they could do.
Friday night happened. As soon as I heard the words "Cape Breton" come out of Ville Siren's mouth, it was like a punch to my psyche's gut. They kept the pick and passed on the elite guy for the guy who maybe fills a need and might be a good player... it was too much.
It's not even about PLD. I've read enough about him to know he could be a great player. That's fine. It's not his fault. It's not Kerby Rychel's fault. It may not even be Jarmo's fault; seeing a Calder Cup means they've at least done *something* right in their drafting and development.
It's everything. This hockey team is fucked, not because of who they drafted, but because of how it's constructed. It's locked in to a roster that isn't good enough, and frankly plays the wrong style of hockey for sustained success in the NHL today. I'm amazed when I look back to the past 18 months to see how much I've soured on this front office. I was their staunchest defender during the Johansen saga with his contract, and now I'm saying they're fucked. That's gotta be a record.
This is the time where I acknowledge that I'm being totally hyperbolic. You can throw all kinds of reason and logic at me, and that's all well and good. You're probably right. They may be fine. Who knows? What I do know is that it's a symptom of the larger issue I have right now: this year so far has been fucking stressful enough for me, and I simply can't handle any more stress... especially from something I love (hockey, the Blue Jackets) and that is ultimately so trivial.
One of two things will happen going forward: I will get a new job very soon and my availability to write will drop to next to nothing. I currently work from my home, and my flexibility to drop everything and write is much higher. Moving to an office and starting something new... it would probably not be in my best interest to spend time every day writing about hockey while learning a new job.
The other option would be to take some time during my severance payout period. This would, of course, afford me some more free time. I might, ironically, be available MORE during training camp. We'll see what happens with that.
But, for now, I have to take a GIANT step back from The Cannon. This isn't the sky-is-falling "I'M FUCKING DONE!!" comment which I've used some variation of here and there leading up to the draft. I still love the team. I still want them to do well. Hell, I'm a Cleveland fan. If I gave up when things got tough, I'd never watch any sports ever.
I just... my heart isn't in it right now. Dubois might be awesome. Puljujarvi might flame out. Shoot, part of me hopes that happens and it proves Jarmo a mad freaking genius.
It doesn't matter. Listening to them draft Dubois was like that moment in Office Space when they're arguing in the car when Jennifer Anniston just can't take anymore and has to get out. I literally turned off my TV. I couldn't tell you anything about any of the rest of the guys we drafted. I don't know who went where in the draft. I just... tuned out.
So, right now I need to figure out what the fuck I'm doing next with my life. I may feel moved to write a column here and there, but my desire to get into the pits of the comments right now is next to nil. My desire--and possibly my availability--to be a full time preview writer once the season rolls around will be greatly diminished.
The odd thing is that I'm not really "angry" to have lost my job simply because of cost-cutting. That fact tells me I need to be doing something else anyway. That's a good thing.
I'm sad, however, to be leaving behind my co-workers, many of whom I've spent more time with than my family over the last decade in many respects. I'm sad to be losing the trappings of being with one company so long. And, truthfully, I'll be crushed if I can't be the writer for the Cannon that I once was. Losing stuff like that hurts more than losing the actual job.
And, I'll be sad not to interact with all of you to the degree that I have been able to these past five years. I'd call many of you friends. Shoot, having Seeds, Pale Dragon, and Stinerman show up to watch FFMorgan and I play hockey against each other on a random Thursday night... you can't put a true value on that kind of community.
That's what you all have built with us here. And stepping back from that hurts. It hurts a lot.
But, it is what I feel in my soul I have to do right now. I'm having enough trouble with stress, not eating, not sleeping, and generally worrying about my future to worry about the shit show that this hockey team has become. (Prove me wrong, boys!)
Even when things were at their worst with this club, I always had love for this place, and I'm sorry to be bailing out, in a way. When the Cavaliers finally broke through earlier this month, it was so great to get to enjoy that moment together as a community. I went to the Cavs' parade/rally last week, and in the panoramic pictures I took of the crowd what I'm struck by is the diversity: black, white, asian, men, women, Muslim, Jew, Christian, gay, straight... everyone was there together, being nice and courteous to each other, and celebrating the moment. We had all suffered; we all made it.
I SO BADLY WANT THAT FOR ALL OF US.
I want to be able to celebrate a Stanley Cup with all of you. We still may get there. I don't know when; it certainly doesn't feel like it will be soon. And so, me... fading into the background, for lack of a better term... it may feel like I'm jumping ship at the time that things are worst. But, it's something I have to do right now. That may change in time, but it may not. And that makes me sad.
Mostly, I wanted you all to know that I'm not giving up, and really that it's not even about hockey. I just have to walk away for a bit. I need some time to get right. And, part of that is removing any extra stress that I can. This hockey team has made me much more angry these past few months than I should have ever allowed it to. I could handle it when everything else was OK; once that stopped being the case... I just don't need it right now.
This isn't "goodbye". It's not even "smell ya later". I don't know what it is. I'll be around, even if I'm no longer the consistent presence on our site for the short term. I still love the process and the end result we create; I just can't handle the heavy lifting right now.
I hope to again one day.
Thanks for reading.