Summer is finally here. This is what we look forward to all winter. The days are longer, the sun is shining and the beaches and patios are calling our names. It’s a glorious time.

Of course, the downside to summer is that there’s no hockey. In fact, if Steven Stamkos, Shea Weber and Drew Doughty would just sign new contracts already, we might just forget about this whole sport until at least late August.

Sure, the offseason may be ridiculously short, but we understand that the absence of hockey can be difficult and even painful at times. Here are a few suggestions on how to pass the time without hockey this summer:

  • Spend the next two months playing NHL 11 for several hours a day. Watch your respect for the game’s advanced artificial intelligence grow as it rejects ridiculous trades like two early draft picks for Semyon Varlamov.
  • Alternatively, spend the time waiting outside Best Buy for the release of NHL 12. It comes out on September 13, so at least you’ll get some sun while sitting outside the store.
  • Try to train your brain to no longer second-guess yourself when you read “Winnipeg Jets” in the NHL schedule.
  • Drink beer. A lot.
  • Relive the glory of watching your favourite team finally claim the Stanley Cup after a long drought. *Boston Bruins fans only.
  • Drive that one Flyers’ fan you know crazy by continuously asking who he’ll miss more, Jeff Carter or Mike Richards.
  • Sit outside the Phillips Arena in Atlanta until someone finally tells Thrashers team president Don Waddell that the team has been moved to Winnipeg.
  • In a high-stakes game of survival, drive to Pittsburgh with a giant Jaromir Jagr flag hanging from your car. See how far you can get before your vehicle is tossed into a river.
  • Blame Gary Bettman, the NHL and the league’s pro-American bias for your team’s failure to win the Stanley Cup. *Fans of Canadian teams only.
  • Wait patiently for the day when your months of meticulous planning and careful execution result in the riot that allows Montreal to regain the title of “Riotest City In Canada.”
  • Keep telling yourself that even though you’re 35 years old, you still have a few years left to win the Vezina Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy and the Stanley Cup in the same year.
  • Continue to wear that Winnipeg Jets jersey around Phoenix, threatening the fans their with promises of taking their team as well.
  • Be happy you’re not an NBA or NFL fan, because at least your favourite league is coming back.
  • Find Alexei Kovalev’s phone number. Spend the rest of the summer calling him every day and asking him if he has a job yet. Stop calling when the number is redirected to a phone in Russia.
  • Alternatively, spend the rest of the summer calling Mike Comrie’s house every day until you get your wish and Hilary Duff finally answers.
  • Stand beside some small children and finally realize what it’s like to be Zdeno Chara. As a bonus, the kids will now know what it’s like to be Martin St. Louis.
  • Take this opportunity to enroll in an MBA or advanced economics program. Study hard for many years until you graduate with honours and are offered a lucrative job at a large corporation or financial institution. Buy Leafs tickets. Don’t use them.
  • Spend your time trying to determine what is and what isn’t an illegal hit in the NHL. By the time you give up in frustration, it will be October.

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