Bruins development camp just finished, the entry draft is in the past and free agency day seems like a distant memory. The hockey off season is brutal at best. Depending on one’s level of obsession, devotion, bandwagonism, or whatever you call it, the summer stretch from the last Stanley Cup Final game to opening night seems a lot longer than a mere three months. Trying to figure out what to do with yourself? Sure you can track free agency and signings then proceed to calculate out capspace and drive yourself crazy but here are some other suggestions; some obvious and others kind of weird…..but something to do nonetheless.
Depending on the safety of the city…or if it exists really….this is probably the greatest way to spend time. There are so many things to discover that you might not have ever realized were within walking distance, a subway ride or a short cab ride. Start at your arena if you’d like, then branch out from there. With Boston for example, if you start at the TD Garden and walk about five minutes you end up at Fanueil Hall. There are not just the obvious and touristy spots to go but walk down a side street and see what you find. Who knows? You might find your new favorite pregame spot bar or a shop that sells old player cards. But if the touristy spots are your thing, Boston is full of museums and places to see plays that are a great way to spend a day in the city.
Potential to be a huge waste of time? Yes. Potential to be wicked awesome? Yes. You don’t have to go out of your way to find them because usually they are everywhere on any given weekend. This could cater to your other interests or your hockey interests. Two summers ago my grandparents’ neighbors were having a yard sale so I went and 25 cents later I had an Adam Oates poster, Cam Neely poster, 1972 hockey magazine with Bobby Orr on the cover and a Niklas Lidstrom rookie card. Not bad. If you’re lucky you can stumble upon jerseys usually for very cheap. Yard sales might not be everyone’s cup of tea but sometimes they’re worth digging through a bucket of stuff.
All through the season you have to take time off work to go to games, watch the big games and then obviously missing a playoff game is a no-no. That is time well spent obviously but it is also time spent not earning money. With summer you suddenly have so much free time with no hockey to watch that picking up extra hours at a job is ideal. Save up all that cash and that’s like, two more games you can go to next season or maybe it’s your savings for an away game road trip.
Go to the Beach/Lake/Pool
So obvious. Going any of these places is awesome for the typical beach activities. Hockey fans have already taken advantage of this if you’ve seen the Tim Thomas sandcastle that was at Hampton Beach in New Hampshire earlier this summer. And laying out trying to get some color also provides time to read hockey memoirs and reminisce with friends about how awesome last season was.
Maybe not during the hottest week of the summer but street hockey is the second best thing to pick up ice hockey. It just has a charm to it, the fact that you’re running around and scraping a stick on pavement while trying to control a little ball. There are plenty of random courts to play on but then there is also your driveway or maybe a cul-de-sac that doubles as a "rink." Just don’t fall…because unlike ice you will scrape your knee and bleed.
Go to Development and Training Camps
Yes! Hockey to watch! ….Sorta. Whether or not you care about the prospects in your teams system, development camps are pretty fun to attend. There you can check out the new talent and see how hard they are working to try and make the team. Maybe they won’t make it, or maybe they will a few years down the road but you already formed your own opinion on them before media hopped all over it. Training camps come closer to the season but are also awesome. You can see how your favorite players have bulked up over the season and if they are trying new equipment, whatever types of things you may notice. And similarly, any excuse to hang out in a freezing ice rink on a 90 degree day is great.
Track the Cup
This may only interest Bruins fans this summer but maybe it is coming near you! The Stanley Cup seems to go just about everywhere and it is always interesting to see if it will end up in someone’s pool. The whole summer is the Cup on tour so it is very likely that if it is near you, you’ll have an opportunity to touch it, kiss it or lick it. And if not, the Cup goes to some pretty interesting places like Yosemite or Lake Placid.
There are obviously countless other things and potentially you have a life that does not 24/7 revolve around hockey. So enjoy your vacations and wherever you may travel. If you have other awesome things you do during the summer be sure to share!