The 45 days from mid-July to the end of August are the worst. We know this. No meaningful hockey is played, hockey news is generally of the soft variety, and most GMs tend to quiet down in trade talks unless they're budget teams waiting for other clubs' signing bonuses to be paid before making a trade. These days, I am convinced, are the universe's attempt to re-establish equilibrium after the overindulgence that is the first round of the playoffs, when we're getting 3-5 games of playoff hockey every night. We all must pay for our bliss.
We, the greedy consumers, must look ahead, opening wide our mind's eye to experience hockey before it comes again. We are the planet straining to shave a few miles off our orbit, only to find ourselves frustrated by the forces of that stupid ball of gas in the middle of everything. (Aside: What has the sun ever done for us? Burned our skin? Over-ripened our cherry tomatoes? Faded and cracked our dashboards?) These are less than fair compensation for the agony that is time's plodding progress during hockey midsummer. Even Vancouver got a second round pick for John Tortorella.
Finding ourselves so-saddled with time's immutable (usually) rhythm, we have no choice but to amuse ourselves as best we can until hockey returns. This year, it will return a bit earlier than usual in the form of ad-clad World Cup players. Cheers for more hockey sooner, indeed; but jeers for August, the visiting in-law of the hockey calendar. Given the puck desert we now find ourselves in, I took it upon myself to construct an oasis, or at least the recipe for an oasis kit that you can build yourself. (Also, hey, did you know there were kit houses back in the day? This was all the rage in the early 20th century, especially in more remote areas where building materials weren't available. Basically, this was IKEA for entire houses. President Richard Nixon was born in a house his father constructed from a kit, and it really is pretty much your standard house, sans indoor commode. This is a post about hockey, theoretically.)
Okay, on with the solutions. Here is A Helpful Guide for Making It through the Summer as a Dallas Stars Fan.
1. Pick a different dream goalie to covet each day
Ben Bishop seems like a perfectly nice fellow, albeit one who uses exclamation marks a bit liberally on Twitter, but we're spending far too much time wishing him into Dallas. That's an unfair amount of psychic energy to waste on one person. Let's spread it around instead! Here's what a typical August week might look like for someone with no interest in hockey detoxing:
Monday: Henrik Lundqvist. "Start the rebuild, Rangers! ...no, not you guys in Arlington...stop! Stop rebuilding! You're great. The bad Rangers, we mean. Trade your really good goalie, please."
Tuesday: Ed Belfour. (Time Machine included) "You gotta put your behind in the past." -Pumbaa
Wednesday: Cory Schneider. "You've got Taylor Hall now. Don't be greedy."
Thursday: Carey Price. "Why pretend the Canadiens wouldn't totally do this, given the most menial of reasons?"
Friday: Ed Belfour, again. "I haven't watched much hockey lately, but howzabout that Eagle guy? We need him and Hatcher back to clear the crease! Boom!"
Saturday: Three-team trades. "We just need Boston to trade for Bishop, then flip him to us for [miscellaneous spare parts]! Boston will totally trade with us now!"
Sunday: Andrew Hammond. "Okay, I'm really just hoping for a free burger." "Great, now I'm thinking about food, too. Thanks a lot." "No problem." "Also, he's not really all that great, I don't think." "Yeah, probably not." "Okay." "Okay." "Craig Anderson isn't that old...right?" "Dude." "Well, I'm just saying." "Dude." "Whatever. I'm getting a burger."
2. Remember all those things that frustrated you during the season that you've since forgotten
There are probably a dozen discrete things that really drove you up the wall last season. Thankfully, our brains have a way of not (usually) holding onto those grating moments, and so we are able to let them recede into the past as we move on with our lives. Well, this summer, let's backtrace all those moments and dredge up all of that rage that is starting to seem antiquated. Remember that one guy next to you at a game last November who didn't like the funny Jumbotron bits all that much? Man, what a nerd. What a nerd. Phew, feels good to be all irked about that again, right? That's the spirit!
This is kind of a catch-all category for your Wooo, your WHO CARES?, or your irrational cable provider that stuck the game on a different channel without telling your DVR about it beforehand. You aren't going through these things at the moment, so let's get back in there and re-live the anguish and petulant rage that has just started to fade. Do not let it fade. Always be annoyed, and always be upset. Peace is for nerds.
(Seriously though, the Wooos are stupid. See, it even works for me while I'm writing this!)
3. Make outlandish bets on what will happen next season
A little-known part of gambling on sports events (which you should never do) is that you are only allowed to place your bets before the sports events begin. And, guess what: the summer is (technically) before the season, making it the perfect time for those bets! So grab your billfold, head down to your local chancery, and lay down a Ulysses on Patrick Eaves, Norris Trophy Winner. Do you know the sort of payout that would give you? Neither do I, but it's gotta be enough for at least a free round o' cold ones at your local public house.
Some other things you should definitely not gamble on (but totally could):
John Klingberg, Art Ross Trophy winner (20:1)
Jamie Benn Will Check Someone Over the Actual Glass (3:2)
Tyler Seguin Does a Photo Shoot for Duck Enthusiast Magazine (1:1)
Antoine Roussel Makes Cat Club T-Shirts (Cat:1)
A Stars Goalie Shuts Out the Stanley Cup Champion To Be Again (500:1)
Lindy Ruff Starts Using Multiple Starting Lineups Per Game to Maximize Ruffling (this isn't a bet so much as an assurance)
4. Incessantly petition your favorite players for unreasonable favors
Instead of explaining, I've prepared a handy example or two of what this might look like. Show, don't tell, as they often said in Bigtime Joe's Cheap-n-Ready-Riting School.
"Dear John, Thank you for being my favorite hockey player. You are very nice at hockey. I have heard you played Catch Phrase one time with Patrik Nemeth, and you were okay. Would you like to come over tonight and play Catch Phrase with me and my neighbor, Biff? Well, actually my neighbor Biff might not come over. But I will definitely be here. Also, could you bring three friends? Because you need at least four people to play, and I'll be holding the selfie stick most of the time, so I can just watch you all play. I will make pizza rolls. I will make them if Biff doesn't come over, I mean. He eats them all." -Dylan from Austin
"Dear Tyler, hi! I really love your hockey games. Thank you for playing hockey. My friend is wondering if you have ever tried football. Maybe you'd like to come try out for our team sometime? It's not too far from where you live, and we are up-and-coming. Also, have you ever played quarterback? We may need one before too long, so, just a thought." -Jerry J. from Arlington
"Dear Antoine, Bonjour! I do not speak French, though you may have been fooled by my greeting. I just wanted to tell you that I love hearing about your cat, and is there a television show starring your cat that I can watch? Please start a television show with your cat. I love your cats. Would you name all your cats after me, please? Maybe I'll kidnap them—hold up, make that "CAT"nap—if you don't name them after me, ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Anyway, please let me know about that TV show. Please do not make the show in French. I do not speak French. Please find my ransom letter attached." -Kelly from no location given
*note: no attachment was included, because people always forget the attachment.
I mean, who knows. Maybe you'll get super lucky, and your favorite Stars will end up acceding to your requests. It's not the worst way to spend the summer, is what I'm saying.
5. Write for a hockey website
I didn't say they were all healthy ideas.