Think you’d rather play in the big leagues over rec league hockey? Think again!
By Petr Samuelsson
1. The Beer
It is taboo for NHL players to drink in the locker room (before or) after games, unless a major milestone has been reached by the team. Usually when this happens, the players are drinking something far more luxurious and tasty than the 30-rack lager that is traditionally slugged down after every rec league hockey game. The consistent availability of refreshments in the beer leagues is unrivaled.
2. The Family
Yeah, so most of us rec league hockey players are overweight, out of shape, and not exactly world-class athletes. And we’re not out reeling in babes after the games simply by dropping our names at the bar. In fact, that act is the precise point in time where most girls get turned off and look the other way. But the home life is a luxury the beer leaguer can well afford. His 12-game season does not keep him from the wife and kids for more than a few hours a week. This fact, for the most part, is a source of envy by the NHL player.
3. The Pressure (or lack thereof, really)
We play for ourselves, plain and simple. Most of our bosses have no knowledge of our late-night exploits, other than the zombie-like stupor we bear with us at work the day after a late game. If we miss a wide-open net, or a goal is scored while we are on the ice, we do not have to worry about losing our jobs. The game is loose, it’s relaxed, and most of all it’s always fun.
4. The Friends
We sign up for our teams a few weeks (or months) prior to the start of the season. We have the option, if we so choose, to remain with the same group year after year, provided there is a mutual interest in doing so among our teammates. We do not have to worry about teammates being traded away, demoted, or signed by another team. We choose our teammates, and they usually end up being our friends for life.
5. The Time Commitment
Sure, it would be great to play hockey every day. We love the game and it would be a dream come true for us. But there’s a big difference between choosing to do what you love, and being forced to participate day in and day out, when the body may not be equal to the task. The once/twice-a-week schedule is more than enough for most of us to enjoy the game and still have the hunger to get out on the ice each time we are called upon.
6. The Connections
Sure, you meet plenty of people as a pro hockey player, and many of them will likely be friends for life. But, honestly, where else can you play hockey on the same team as your doctor, dentist, and lawyer but in a rec league? Some of the connections made in the locker room will help further people’s careers and become the genesis of lasting business partnerships. There have even been marriages between rec league teammates! Hockey has the ability to bring people of all walks together and the amateur aspect opens up the door for all kinds of relationships to be formed off of the ice.
7. The Beer
Did we mention the beer?
Petr Samuelsson, a Swedish-American, calls himself a rec hockey lifer.