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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.