The Ablino Rhino 07-08
I was a healthy scratch for the first four games of the first four games of the regular season, including a home and home series against the Senators. Seriously, I was scratched for a game against our bitter rivals. What makes it even worse is Brian McGrattan played in both games. I tried to be a good sport about it. At the same time though, the fact that I wasn't playing against a team that dressed tough guys was concerning.
I finally played my first game of the season against the Islanders, and I was still kind of pissed about being scratched. I took out all that frustration on Andy Sutton, roughing him up and knocking him down.
I went on many streaks of sitting in the press box, and when I did play I wasn't playing a lot. One game against the Penguins, I played a whopping 57 seconds. But I was in the lineup for a game against the Thrashers in November, which gave the perfect opportunity for me to continue my rivalry with Eric Boulton. I came out swinging, hammering him with a few good rights. Eric had some good punches of his own that hit the mark. It was a pretty even fight.
Eric and I go all the way back to my AHL days. I fought him a total of 7 times, more than any other opponent. We were good friends off the ice and fucked whenever we got a chance. When I told Eric about my streaks of being a press box pigeon and getting two shifts a game, he was in shock. He told me to get out of there, that guys like us still had a role to fill and there were plenty of teams that would love to have me and play me often.
I was scratched on and off for a few games at a time through Christmas. Despite what Eric said, I was still trying to hang in there. I loved Toronto, this was my home. I loved Bryan, too. I didn't want to leave him. But the final straw came in January. After playing in a game against the Ducks on the 8th, I was a healthy scratch for ever game right up through the all star break. I just couldn't take not playing for weeks at a time. I went to John Ferguson and asked for a trade.
Amazingly, the first game after the all star break I was in the lineup. It was too little too late for me though. It was as if all of my motivation was in a balloon and Maurice had popped it. I just didn't have any motivation to play or fight. I was in the lineup for a Saturday night game against the Senators. My first shift, I line up opposite Brian McGrattan and he asks me if I want to go. I just waited for the puck to drop and skate away from him. I just didn't have it in me.
It was at the trade deadline that year. We were in Florida for a game against the Panthers. The call came as I woke up from my afternoon nap. I had been traded to the Panthers. It was a relief and a shock at the same time. I had asked for the trade, sure, but I didn't want to leave. I had been in Toronto for eight years. Bryan and I had built a home there.
Things were not looking good in Florida. There were no other tough guys that I could turn to for help getting off, and the atmosphere of the locker room did not seem inviting to any sexual activity. I called up Bryan after the first game telling him he better sign here, because I couldn't survive like this. He said he was waiting for his bonus.