By Adam Button
At hockey tryouts, head coach Ed Kirsten posts the first round of cuts outside the dressing room. I scan the list but ‘A. Button’ is nowhere to be found.
I check again. Nothing. On my way out Kirsten hollers, “See you Monday [at the next tryout].”
I knew there had been some kind of mistake. Then I hear him again, “Oh wait, no I won’t.”
Hockey is the greatest game. I love it even when tryouts are at 7:30 a.m. in Etobicoke.
Two things held me back in hockey: my small size and my temper. In one scrimmage, I was coming down 1-on-1 against defenseman David Anthony. When he took the puck right off my stick and headed the other way, I spun around and slashed him in the back of the leg.
Big mistake. Anthony is 6’3”, 240 lbs and doesn’t like getting slashed. He stopped, turned around and gave me a two-hand punch in the face. If I wasn’t wearing a face cage, he would have broken my jaw. After he took a few more swings, I managed to scurry away.
Later, I apologized to him for the slash. “No worries,” he said, “whatever happens on the ice, stays on the ice.”
I narrowly escaped injury there, but there is no escaping the beginning-of-the-season blisters.
At the end of the first tryout, I was limping. But when I found out that the ice was vacant for an hour after the tryout I was back out there until my socks were bloody. Other than, “he shoots, he scores,” a hockey player’s favourite words are, “free ice time.” I couldn’t believe that only four other people were out there. What kind of hockey team do we have?
Even if they didn’t feel like skating in the morning, it’s pretty clear that we have an improved team. Only a few players left the team and this season’s recruits are great. The test is going to be in net. Star goalie Jon Sikemma ran out of eligibility this season and the replacements didn’t seem as talented.
At the end of tryouts, Kirsten said that this was the most difficult team he had to select in his three years at Ryerson. He also tells the cut players that we can email him if we want to know why we were cut. I take him up on the offer. Here is his reply:
We evaluated each athlete in a few areas. You were slightly lower than needed for this level of play in the following areas … Skating speed and agility … Puck control … passing and receiving … shot. You seemed to have a decent touch around the net. All in all, you were slightly lower than other forwards in regards to the above skill levels and that’s what we based our decision on. Thanks for your interest and effort and good luck in your program.