Saturday, August 4, 2012

Hockey Pucks

One thing that seemed to make our last vacation trip a bit more interesting, at least for the transit portion, was the quest to obtain hockey pucks. I know for N, and of course for hockey crazed dad, it made the journey a bit more fun and gave it another purpose. We even went out of our way to get them, and though it seems frivolous and maybe even a little silly, we pulled it off, much to the chagrin of other (one other) person in our entourage.

This whole endeavor began in Montreal, the hockey mecca of the world. We were touring the shops and noticed plenty of Canadiens memorabilia, much of it exorbitantly expensive. Pucks, however, were not only manageable, but kind of cool. Plus, they’re unbreakable and easy to store and transport. Say no more.

After Montreal, it dawned us that we’ve been to other cities with NHL teams, and we were probably going to visit others. We’ve missed a few opportunities, Boston, New York, New Jersey, and Phoenix come to mind, but with the exception of Phoenix, there’s a good chance we’ll visit all those towns again. During this current trip, we were headed to Ohio by way of New York, so we figured we’d try Buffalo and Columbus.

Now as is often the case, I don’t always get wholehearted support for my ideas, which may come across as a waste of time. I can’t dispute this completely, but sometimes the best things in life aren’t necessary, but still enrich our lives, right? Besides, stopping in Buffalo wasn’t a complete stretch because we were passing right through there. It just meant modifying our plans a bit. With a bit of haggling and overcoming some initial resistance, the desire to obtain NHL pucks was finally agreed upon, albeit begrudgingly.

This was complicated by the fact that we didn’t know where to look. We had to stop halfway on our trip, and Buffalo was halfway, but where do you get a puck? The Buffalo Sabres played in downtown, and they have a gift shop at their arena, but it was closed on the weekend that we arrived, so we had to look elsewhere. There was a big mall with a sporting goods and I’m sure some sort of team memorabilia store. There are two teams in Buffalo, the Sabres and the Bills, so you figure there had to be stores selling their gear.

Anyway, we got to Buffalo late, and the next day, the stores didn’t open until 10:00, which meant waiting for about half an hour after breakfast. This proved to be way too long for some of us as it was imperative that we get back on the road and over to Ohio ASAP, so we left. The idea was that we’d stop on the way back, but I’ve learned from experience that these plans never work out. You have to deal with something when you can, because in the future something else is going to stand in your way.

The one consolation was that Columbus has a team, and they might have Buffalo pucks, as well. Getting the Columbus hockey puck, however, was going to be a challenge, as well, and I wasn’t sure if everyone was going to be on board with this one. I was going to drive up with N at some point during our stay and take care of business, but it was about a 1.5 drive one way. We figured it made more sense to go on our way home, since it was on the way, sort of. Once again, I thought putting it off was a mistake, but all that driving during our stay did not appeal to me. Either way, on the way home, we stopped in Columbus, and I have to say, it was a nice visit.

The area around the arena seemed like part of a rejuvenation project, with all sorts of development and nice restaurants. Nationwide Arena is brand new, and the shop was open. Now the Blue Jackets are a new expansion team, they may be 5 years old, and the guy working there was not that enthused about their prospects. He kept talking about how they never sell out and didn’t seem too optimistic about the team’s chances in the near future. I know they just traded their superstar captain (Nash) to the Rangers, so things were looking even bleaker.

On a bright note, this meant it would be easier to get tickets, and the guy even said the games that sell out are the ones against big opponents, including the Bruins and the Rangers. I wouldn’t be surprised if Buffalo fans made the trek. In the end, it was something to consider for future visits to R’s parents, and they had hockey pucks. They even had the Sabres, which meant we wouldn’t have to stop in Buffalo on the way home, or if we did, we didn’t have to look for pucks. This wasn’t completely in line with our plan of getting pucks in the city of the team, but you do the best you can.

One nice thing that we realized was that N can also get college hockey pucks, and we scored one for the Ohio University Bobcats. Never heard of them? Welcome to the club. It’s actually a pretty big school, and their sports program is fairly competitive. They have a hockey team and even though the arena was closed, a guy working there went to the trouble of booting up the computer and selling us a puck. I love when that happens. Now Ohio State is in Columbus, and they have a really good hockey team, but I wasn’t about to push my luck and ask to go there, as well. Sometimes you just have to be happy with what you got.

The end result of all this is that we can search for pucks on future trips, and we can go to hockey games at OU and maybe even Columbus when we visit. Life is good, as the saying goes.

Until the next time, thanks for reading.

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