Skip to content

COLUMN: Reporter takes shot at hockey 'comeback' at 52

'As I’m getting older, and my joints get a little creakier, resurrecting my shinny hockey career wasn’t high on my to-do list,' says reporter Kevin Lamb

I used to love playing hockey.

As a little kid of seven or eight, my parents signed me up for minor hockey. And I played ... some of the time.

My mother loves to tell the story of how I would spend half the game sitting on the ice up against the boards chatting away with a teammate.

Through my teens and into my 20s, I took the pastime much more seriously and actually played entire games. I could hold my own.

I eventually gave up the sport in my early 40s.

And now, as I’m getting older and my joints get a little creakier, resurrecting my shinny hockey “career” wasn’t high on my to-do list, to say the least.

Besides, I hung up my skates almost 10 years ago on a high note — playing on a line with NHL all-star and Norris Trophy winner, Brent Burns, one of our most famous Barrie sons.

OK, it was just one game, but it was pretty great nonetheless.

Burns wandered out onto the ice one night, just before NHL training camp was slated to start, and asked if he could join us.

Duh! Yeah, of course you can!

The Barrie Sports Hall of Famer, who now patrols the blue line for the Carolina Hurricanes, made some unbelievable passes. I scored a couple goals. Not a big deal.

That outing was the final one for me, and what a way to end it.

I had been getting pretty frustrated at the time, playing Thursday night pick-up hockey with a bunch of overly competitive guys who clearly played the game at a moderately high level, something I never had.

And unlike "Burnsy," my one-time linemate and future Hockey Hall of Famer, they would never pass the puck.

Do you know how annoying that can get?

Time to quit.

So, for the last decade, my bag of hockey gear gathered dust in my basement.

More than a few times I nearly picked tossed it out, convinced that was it for me.

I’m glad I didn’t, though.

Not long ago, fellow reporter Tyler Evans, who works for our sister site, OrilliaMatters, put out feelers as he was planning to start a regular Friday night shinny game.

“All skill levels and genders are welcome,” he posted on social media. “This is a non-competitive group who are just looking for some exercise and a good time.”

Well, that piqued my interest. It checked all the boxes off for what could help me ease into a triumphant and long-awaited comeback.

And I felt I definitely needed to up my exercise game.

Since I ditched my boring desk job two months ago and joined BarrieToday as a roving reporter, I’ve managed to quietly lose 12 pounds. Not bad.

If I get back to playing regular hockey, I should easily lose at least another 10 and get back to being in a good place.

So, there I was, last Friday night, lacing up the old cheese-cutters in an arena dressing room with my new teammates.

Although, I certainly got a surprise when I tried to put on my skates — I could barely reach all the way down to tighten up the laces!

It seems I added more protective "padding" around my waistline than I figured, since I last played so long ago.

By the time I managed to get dressed and ready to play, I was sweating and out of breath. Phew! 

I certainly didn’t volunteer to take the opening face-off. 

The first 10 minutes of the game were a little troubling to me, as I wanted to keep up with the play, but my legs were saying “nope, not tonight.”

It didn’t take me long to question what I was doing and maybe reconsidering my comeback.

With a little bit longer rest between shifts, and controlling my breathing, things started to turn around for the better.

There was a point at the halfway mark of the game where it seemed my brain suddenly realized, “Oh yeah, I remember how to do this!” I began to skate with the strides I used to have and I was starting to keep up.

By the time the game ended, I didn’t want to get off the ice.

It reminded me of when I was a younger and fitter young man, and how I never wanted to leave the rink. It felt that good to be back.

I have to admit I did much better than I thought I would. And with that first game under my belt, I think I can keep it up for a full season.

I can’t wait to hit the ice again. Maybe I'll get tapped to take the opening draw.

Kevin Lamb is a staff reporter at BarrieToday. 


Reader Feedback

About the Author: Kevin Lamb

Kevin Lamb picked up a camera in 2000 and by 2005 was freelancing for the Barrie Examiner newspaper until its closure in 2017. He is an award-winning photojournalist, with his work having been seen in many news outlets across Canada and internationally
Read more