You have to wonder if the all-year hockey is starting to take out players earlier and earlier. Whether it be over-conditioning leading to injury or playing for a team that has very high expectations all year or a team with low expectations and it makes them fall out of love for the game because those low expectations are met.
Hockey may be life, but sometimes life can really suck and you fall out of love of it and into a deep depression and despise every aspect of that life.
Alex Goligoski is the latest to step forward and share him falling out of love with hockey, following in the footsteps of Cam Atkinson and Ryan O’Reilly of saying burnout in hockey is real. Some one surmise that this is exactly what’s going on with Dustin Byfuglien now and his leave of absence from the Winnipeg Jets.
While it’s something to be a hockey fanatic year-round, it’s another to actually be the athlete dealing with this and having to be at a high-caliber to keep their spot in professional hockey; even if there are guaranteed contracts in the mix. You hear a lot of articles in the past few years talking about how younger players should actually venture out into other sports to develop their motor skills that can used in hockey and prevent burn-out at a young age.
Goligoski did say that the bye-week in the NHL did help his spirits a bit because he was away from the game; you have to think if there’s going to be something more on the horizon because of these players dealing with such emotions. The NBA has teams that sit out their star players, albeit to discipline by the league in doing so and the opinion of former stars that think it’s a detriment to the game.
Yet, could this be something that the NHL does?? Sure, the elite teams are harder to come by in the league and there would be outrage from the league and the fans for their top players not being around for people to watch given the cost of a ticket…but even with the bye-week, wouldn’t it give a team a better chance in the playoffs if they are rested by any means necessary?? Isn’t the Stanley Cup the biggest goal and not game 58 of an 82 game season when you’re in a comfortable spot in the standings??
Some teams did it later on in the season, like the Stars; while the Tampa Bay Lightning didn’t. One team went to the second round and the Lightning were swept by the Blue Jackets. You also see players skipping out on the All-Star Game to rest and getting suspended for it because the NHL wants their top players at the top events.
You have to think that the league will need to do something about this since burnout has become more prevalent in the game. It’s not just older players, as it is guys who are supposed to be in their prime. You look at someone like Andrew Luck who retired from the NFL at 29 because he fell out of love with the game he used to; the NHL needs to find a way to curve the epidemic before they lose a lot more talented players before they reach their full career potential.
Whether it’s a shorter schedule– which is doubtful because profit margins– or more bye-weeks to extend the calendar year for teams; they really have to worry about the mental health of players as much as they do the physical health.