Bonjour, Puck-Heads! Today we’re classying up the joint and looking at some hockey-related wines. Coming from the hands of 300-game-winning goalie Cam Ward and Olympic Silver Medalist defenseman Tim Gleason, Vinyard 36 is more than just an indulgent hobby, it’s a passion. Both Ward and Gleason get their hands dirty and are hands-on in the production of this very fine juice. (I have no evidence that they stomp on the grapes with their own bare feet, but I don’t have any evidence against it, either.)
On a lovely Saturday in early March, I was invited to a wine tasting hosted by Mr. Gleason here in Raleigh for a rare chance to try the literal fruits of his labor, ask some questions and get a better understanding of his post-hockey passion. Finding a bottle can also be difficult, since it’s a rather small operation. It’s no Paul Masson, but they don’t need Orson Wells shilling their wares anyway.
One hundred percent of NHL players will tell you that their top goal is to hoist Lord Stanley’s Mug over their head, skate around in a circle screaming, and wondering who they’re gonna spray first in the face with champagne. OK, cool squad goals bro. I can say 100% because Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Semin are playing in the KHL these days, and they only give a damn about money. The second goal for every player is to make the playoffs; just to get that extra patch on their jersey and at least play some late-April hockey.
Now that Ron Hainsey’s Ultimate Ironman Streak of playing so many seasons on so many bad teams — and having made his tee time on the golf course by April 15 — is over, let’s look at the top eight players currently in the NHL who have yet to make the playoffs and could take up Ron’s mantle of misfortune:
This Carolina Hurricanes team set was issued during the 2003-04 season. The cards are quite large, measuring 4.25″ wide by 5.5″ tall and have an unusual matte finish on the front. The 23 cards in the set give us a good look at many of the players who would win the Stanley Cup two seasons later.
Remember when you were in elementary school and you saw your first grade teacher at the grocery store for the first time, and exclaimed, “Mrs. Dethnoll, what are you doing here?”
“I’m shopping for groceries, just like you!”
“You are? I thought you just lived at the school!”
Even though we’re all grown-ass adults hacking away at our 9-to-5 jobs and drinking kale smoothies (ugh, seriously this stuff is gross!), we sometimes forget that those of us on this earth living the dream of playing hockey for a living exist outside of the rink as well. Pro athletes have lives, likes and dislikes, clothes they enjoy wearing that don’t have an itchy fight strap, pets that need walking or scooping after, and, most importantly, food they love eating!