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Wanted: NHL Job

Dwayne Roloson (photo by Bruce Kluckhohn)

No, not job like work, Job, like the patience of.   A few days ago I read this article about Dwayne Roloson.  That seems like ages ago, before the Sharks fed my appetite for drama with their foibles, fed it like they were stuffing a goose to make pate.  So depressing, an interminable agony that became quite unbearable.  It’s been days since I watched one of my teams win.

So instead of addressing the Sharks’ fourth defeat in a row, except to mention it there, I’ll think about the lanky fellow who could because he would.

Dwayne Roloson was 27 when he made it into the NHL.  It was a while longer before he started getting consistent NHL starts.  Now he is 41.  As the article linked above mentions, when he started playing, the art of goaltending looked very different than it does today.  Like a living museum of goalie styles, he skates among NHL players still, and is doing pretty well.  He is out-playing younger goalies, and not with some old-timey way of doing things.  He has adapted, he knows the new as well as the old.

He was not a super star.  He was not drafted.  He spent enough time in the minors to convince the most stubborn, maniacally ambitious person that he would spend his career there.  It may have happened before, in the history of professional hockey, but so long ago and so infrequently that few would have looked at his career a decade ago and thought “that guy will finish in the NHL.  Steve Yzerman will want him on his team in 2011.”

Will he save the Lightning from a flop of a season?  Who knows, that isn’t the story.  Yet.

So what?  Does Roloson, ten years ago, think “this is going nowhere, I’m gonna go get a law degree.”  He could have.

What lunacy, to just keep playing hockey, and not go become a lawyer, or a mechanic, or a plumber, or a veterinarian, something steady.  Playing hockey is a little like being an artist: not practical.

You aren’t supposed to do such things, not seriously, not with all your time and energy, unless you plan to become rich and famous.  Once it becomes clear that you will not (statisticians will let you know within a safe margin of error), then you should quit and do something more modest and less personally gratifying.  That’s the way of the world.

The Best, they can continue on until their bodies fail, the Rest, they are supposed to quit and go do something more productive and important.

Why?   What is important?  Feeding starving people?  Yes, that is a good thing to do.  I guess if everyone did it, there would be no starving people.  But then who would feed the starving people feeders?

Be a doctor?  Is it more important to be a plastic surgeon specializing in eye lifts than it is to be a hockey player?

Be a teacher?  What if you are a lousy teacher?  What if you are an unhappy, bitter, ex-circus acrobat with poor communication skills?  Is it still more important for you to be a teacher?

Why isn’t it important to be happily employed doing whatever the hell you want?  What if you play for an audience of 12?  Well, make those 12 happy and you have done a good thing.  What if you play endlessly for losing teams, or as a back-up, hardly playing at all, on losing teams?  Who is happy then?

You are, if you like playing hockey.  And the fans of the teams who beat you are happy.

We are not conditioned to think “if he can do that, maybe I can go become a professional balloon twister, which is really all that ever made me happy anyway.”  Instead, we learn “I can’t be a professional balloon twister, therefore he should not continue playing hockey since his career doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.”

Does it make a difference that he did eventually make it to the NHL, and now into the spotlight?  Not really, except for the story telling.  I wouldn’t have heard the story if he hadn’t.

I’m very glad that Dwayne Roloson persisted, even though he had to completely revamp his playing style as the years progressed, even though he is a Libra and astrologically ill-suited to goaltending.  Then again, the Chinese zodiac predicted it.  He was born in the Year of the Rooster.  If he thought he should be a professional goalie, then he was probably right.

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