Around the time that I started walking, my Mom put me in a pair of ice skates and sent me out onto the rink at Scanlon Ice Rink in Philadelphia, PA. I’m sure I wasn’t on my feet for very long, but I was out there.
It’s where it all began.
Not long after my “debut”, I started playing ice hockey at Scanlon, or I tried to anyway. I’m not sure that you can call a bunch of kids skating in circles and running into each other hockey, but it wasn’t quite elegant enough to designate it figure skating either. And besides, there is no way that you would be able to confuse my Sharks jersey for a skirt and tights (the tights wouldn’t come around until I was Link for Halloween in 2009).
When I was about 8 years old, I decided that hockey wasn’t nearly as much fun as playing video games and I stopped. I mean, why spend all of that time getting suited up in all of that uncomfortable gear when I could just not? That’s the attitude I had anyway, which in hindsight is kind of silly. At that age, you don’t tie your own skates. You don’t dress yourself. It was the life. Either way, I stopped playing. I played roller hockey at the park here and there when I moved to Jersey, I played at the Blue Cross River Rink after work, and I played in a foot hockey league when I was like twelve, but none of it was anything serious (don’t tell that to Dan Pickens, R.I.P. Bulldogs).
I didn’t get started playing ice hockey again until I was 18, and at that moment I realized that I had (and have) never regretted anything more in my life than quitting ice hockey.
It was then that from the ashes of my nonexistent hockey career came Phoenix. Phoenix was a hockey team that I put together with a group of people that I worked with, only it was more than that. They weren’t just people that I worked with. They were people that I grew up with. They were people that I cared about. The team was comprised of family members, long time friends, and a few stragglers that found their way to help us fill out the roster. In some ways, it was the beginning of our own legacy.
Needless to say, Phoenix was an utter failure. We had a 15 man roster, 10 to 12 of which had never played a game of organized hockey prior to its formation. I’ll never forget the first time that we went to open hockey at Hollydell in our equipment and Matt O’Mara fell over the boards. It’s just one of those things you never forget, and not because it was hilarious (which it was), but because it was one of those things where we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. That season Pilla got checked by a girl, a slap shot snapped the visor off of my helmet, TJ was taken to the hospital, Mike Kelly got beat up by Campbell, and Bill Kelly got beat up by… well everyone. It was definitely a season to remember, especially the 3-23 finish (not exact, but probably too not far off).
A few seasons later, Phoenix died off. We were tired of losing. We were tired of Skatezone drama. We were tired of pretty much everything that you could be tired of. So we took a season off to find somewhere else to play, or at least I thought that we did. I found out a month or so after the Winter season had ended that almost everyone had joined a new team, the Laughing Skulls.
When I found out, I couldn’t help but feel a bit betrayed. My friends and my family had joined a new team and the only reason that I caught wind of it was because of Facebook (oh, the wondrous world of Facebook). I’m not going to get into the logistics of exactly what happened, or what was said, or what went on because at this point it doesn’t matter. It was miscommunication at its finest, besides the only thing that matters is that my response to the formation of the Laughing Skulls was to bring in my own team, Legacy.