My son's soccer team had a mantra amongst the parents sitting on the sidelines. It was "the suffering."
We had a great group of kids who played the game well, got along and were a pleasure to be around. We had an equally great group of parents who were dedicated, brought their kids to practice and showed up to every game. Everyone was happy to be on the field and everyone was happy to be around eachother. To put it simply, there was no drama. For those of you with kids in sports (or any competitive activity for that matter) you know what I mean. And, you also know how rare that is.
Anyway. We'd be at the games and we would be chatting and catching up before the kick-off excited to see the boys play. The game would start and they would look fantastic. They'd be moving the ball, making plays, taking shots and defending to almost perfection. They would be dominating and we would be cheering and cheering. We would come so close to scoring so many times that it seemed divine intervention was stopping that ball from crossing the goal line. Then, at some point there would be a breakdown. The other team, who for 45-60 minutes could do nothing, suddenly takes the ball down the field and boom, bang, bing... they score. All that work, all those great plays all that great defense... gone in one swift kick of the ball. Then we would rally and they would pepper the opposing goalie with more shots... but all for not. Thus? The suffering. Oh the suffering. We were the better team, we had the better and stronger players. We dominated the game. So what happened?
This is how I feel watching the Sharks in the playoffs. The suffering. Not that they, in any way, dominated play last night. But that they have so much potential. So much strength. So much of what a successful team should have. Then, there is that eternal flame of hope that burns so brightly inside my very soul. Just like with the kids. That feeling of "this is it. This is the day they break out and the score will reflect just how great they are." And? All the build up. All the match-ups in our favor, home ice advantage, top scoring line, in all of hockey, skating around out there in, what my eyes can't believe (and still can't believe), is building up to be an epic fail. The suffering.
It is heart breaking. It makes me want to stop watching. Why do I need my heart stomped on again? I mean, if I let it go now, it will then hurt less later? Did I really think 24 hours ago that this couldn't possibly happen... again?
I don't think there is a strong enough grade alchohol available to dull the pain I felt last night. Then again? I piece of me knew. When they finally scored in the third period to tie the game I felt a sense of relief. I felt like they got the monkey off their back now they can put the hammer down and close this game out. However, as the game went on and it was nearing the end of the third I knew it wasn't going to overtime. I was "almost" not surprised when Colorado scored with 49 seconds to go. It was kind of fitting. I mean, of course they scored. Why wouldn't they?
So, here is where we stand. We still need 16 wins. We have one less opportunity to make that happen now and we still need to get that all important first one. My optimism has shrank considerably. But I still have hope. The flame won't go out until that final series loss. After all, they are such a great group of guys. They can still rally. They are so much fun to watch. The coaches are great, the announcers are great. Did you hear that crowd at the tank? They are that great team. They are. I know they are.
The suffering. Oh, the suffering.