Off topic, part 2: The ‘last day of training camp’

You’re just going to get some non-sequiturs as part of TMR 3.0. I’m a writer, and I have thoughts about hockey that extend beyond posting articles or writing my own (and I’m working on finding my voice in terms of the second point). So:

Today, in a normal world, this would be the last day of the Detroit Red Wings’ training camp in Traverse City.

I would be utterly exhausted from two weeks’ worth of covering the prospect tournament and main training camp, but I’d be happy with the work I’d produced.

I’d have a celebratory meal of Culver’s at the hotel and “empty the notebook” ahead of the autumn equinox tomorrow, and I’d head home on Wednesday to start covering the Red Wings’ condensed exhibition season (the team usually plays 8 games over the course of only 12 nights), preceding an early-October regular season start.

Instead, Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final takes place tonight in a coronavirus-secured “bubble.”

Instead, the Red Wings haven’t played since March, and we don’t know when the Wings will play again. December? January? Later? Not at all? We’re all operating on COVID-19 time right now, and that frustrates me to no end.

While the 2020 draft is approximately two weeks away, the draft won’t be held in Montreal; it will be held virtually, over Zoom calls and video feeds, and Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield, Tim Stuetzle and whoever the Red Wings pick at #4 overall won’t be able to walk up to the draft stage to don their respective teams’ jerseys.

They’ll speak on the Zoom calls with local media types, and they’ll hope, as we do, that their respective Major Junior, NCAA or European Pro teams’ seasons will take place at all.

Today is supposed to be about celebrating the end of the very beginning of the NHL campaign, about hope and optimism, some worries about minor injuries, and generally preparation for a long regular season to come, with a packed house at Centre ICE Arena in Traverse City giving way to crowded rinks in Detroit (okay, not that crowded) and around the NHL.

We’re not there. Instead, I found myself taking my beloved Chrysler Pacifica to the mechanic’s to get my muffler and tailpipe fixed, and even Norm’s Total Automotive in South Lyon had a masks-and-social-distancing policy. As we’re a one-car household, Norm himself donned a mask and gave me a ride home in a truck that he needed to evaluate.

Don’t get me wrong–I’m grateful to “be back” blogging one day before the one-year anniversary of my mom’s death.

I’m grateful that we have hockey to talk about at all, and that the Red Wings’ top prospects’ developmental interests are being served thanks to a host of loans to European pro teams. I’m excited about the draft, even though there won’t be a summer development camp shortly afterward, and I’m hopeful that we will–somehow–have NHL hockey being played in a non-bubble situation sometime over the next six-to-twelve months.

Mostly, I feel whole again as I take on the task of running this blog, balancing my hockey responsibilities with caring for my 78-year-old aunt, and, away from hockey, Aunt Annie and I are slowly starting to heal as we remember the third wheel of the tricycle that was our tight-knit household. Mom’s ashes live on top of the fridge now, and she is often missed, and rarely forgotten.

I’m trying to accept the setbacks that the coronavirus has yielded personally, professionally, and hockey-wise, too…

But I sure as hell wish that I was in Traverse City today, and I sure as hell wish that I was writing for you about the “last day of training camp.” This world is weird, and I accept it, but I don’t like it.

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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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