‘There’s a certain Slant of light’ (with apologies to Emily Dickinson)

If the coronavirus has taught me anything, it’s taught me that there are very few things that I’m not willing to give up for the sake of staying healthy.

I’m the caregiver of an immune-compromised person, and I’ve been very lucky: I already have to socially distance myself from people for the most part; I have to be careful where I go and when and where I go places for the sake of not exposing Aunt Annie to dangerous “bugs”; wearing a mask has been an annoying addition to my out-of-doors ensembles, but I’ve learned to embrace the concept of protecting others from my germs.

I haven’t had to make too many sacrifices during a time in which so many people are surrendering personal and social freedoms in bulk for the sake of not getting sick from this awful virus. During a year in which teenagers have surrendered senior year shenanigans, parents have learned to home school on the fly, so many people have surrendered their social lives, and people are getting sick and dying from this awful virus, my aunt and I are relatively healthy, and in that sense, we are very lucky.

We’re rounding the 190,000 death mark in the U.S., and it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t know someone who’s either been sick with the coronavirus and/or someone who’s lost a loved one to the virus or the medical complications stemming from COVID-19.

We have every reason to take this shit very, very seriously, and if we have to make social and personal freedom-related sacrifices in order to protect ourselves and others from getting sick. It’s that simple.

All of that being said, yesterday was the first time I really started to feel resentment toward the virus, and that’s because of the way the sunlight hit the pavement as I headed out to pick up a prescription for the aunt.

It’s September 5th, and, during a regular year (we may not have those any more), I would be making the mad dashes toward raising funds and beginning to prepare for my annual trip to Traverse City to cover the Red Wings’ prospect tournament and main training camp.

Even in a year where the blog is essentially re-starting from scratch, I’m fairly certain that I would’ve been able to raise the funds necessary to pay the bills, and I’m sure that the mental and physical exhaustion I would experience over the course of my two-week trip to Traverse City would have been worth it in terms of generating content for my readers.

This year, there is no prospect tournament, and Centre ICE Arena is still shuttered due to the pandemic. This year, the hundreds of volunteers who sacrifice their vacation time in order to ensure the players, executives and scouts attending the prospect tournament and main camp receive VIP treatment find themselves without fall plans. The fans who make the pilgrimage to Traverse City to be close to the players and enjoy the endless promise of hockey in September are staying home.

And, this year, a blogger who lives for the one time of the year in which I feel like a real journalist, despite my status as a basement-based DIY pundit, doesn’t get to experience what is supposed to be the beginning of the 2020-2021 “hockey year.”

It pisses me off. I’ve sucked it up and accepted not seeing my friends for months on end, giving up my vacation to the U.P., not getting a haircut from December until yesterday, all the significant and silly details of life that I’ve shelved until we can access some sort of coronavirus vaccine, no matter how long that takes…

But losing the privilege of covering the prospect tournament and training camp on behalf of the people who sponsor the trip–the people who make this blog work–it’s a loss that truly stings.

There may still be a training camp for the 2020-2021 edition of the Detroit Red Wings yet. It may or may not take place in November of 2020, it may or may not take place at some time after mid-November, and it may not take place at all.

It will take place at Little Caesars Arena, and, Red Wings PR staff willing, I hope to be afforded the privilege of attending it on your behalf. I’ll probably have to find a hotel somewhere a little closer to downtown for the sake of self-isolating from the aunt in order to minimize the possibility of infecting her with whatever I might catch during camp, but that would be okay.

I just hope that there’s a training camp at all, for all of your sakes more than my own. Sports have been something that we’ve been able to rally around as hockey communities during the pandemic. Being able to root for someone or something can bring positivity and senses of meaning and belonging when we most desperately need those kinds of feelings in our lives.

The truth of the matter is that we won’t know whether there is a 2020-2021 season at all, “bubbles” or no “bubbles,” until far closer to November, which seems like a lifetime away during this long, long year that is 2020, and I have the feeling that we will be lucky if the NHL, NHLPA and the 31 member clubs’ personnel are able to contain coronavirus outbreaks in time to hold an organized (even if it is shortened or condensed) season.

But I must repeat: as much as I’ve done my best to simply accept the sometimes-depressing and sometimes-uncomfortable constraints that affect all of our lives during this pandemic, and to simply accept them without complaint.

But not being able to represent you in Traverse City is something that truly stings.

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George Malik

My name is George Malik, and I'm the Malik Report's editor/blogger/poster. I have been blogging about the Red Wings since 2006, when MLive hired me to work their SlapShots blog, and I joined Kukla's Korner in 2011 as The Malik Report. I'm starting The Malik Report as a stand-alone site, hoping that having my readers fund the website is indeed the way to go to build a better community and create better content.

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