What happens when a professional hockey player’s season ends
You’ve been playing hockey nonstop since mid-September, and suddenly the season is over. Exit meetings are over and the last team party of the season is scheduled. What happens next?
More often than not, the last party is a free game for everyone, regardless of location. Sometimes a player will host at home. Other times, the team will head out for a nice dinner. Pretty much the only guarantee is that whatever money is left in the team fines fund will be spent that night. And then some. The tab bar is still impressive.
As fun as the party is, there’s always a chance a teammate will go off the rails. And that’s what worries you: having to take care of a friend instead of being able to enjoy the festivities. Fortunately, this does not happen often. But the joker teammate is always behind your head.
Provided things go well at the party, the next thing for most players is to pack for the trip back to their offseason home. And this aspect can vary considerably. The more a player is anchored in a city and an organization, the more time he can spend there in the summer.
For players choosing to return home in the offseason, logistics can be a nightmare. Many have to rent a trailer. Book hotels. Figure out what to do with family pets on the road. Not to mention how to entertain the kids if they ride.
At the end of my career, I found it easier to put my wife and children on a plane. I live in Saint Louis. And while Gateway City is located in the middle of North America, it’s more than a day’s drive from many NHL and AHL cities.
My daughters were both under six when I ended my playing career in 2019. Imagine driving 16 hours with them in a crowded SUV, the family dog curled up in the back, while towing the biggest trailer courtesy of U-Haul.