So it's a mid-week February night in 1989, and I'm heading out the door to the gym when the phone rings. Must have been a Wednesday, because on Tuesday's, Thursdays and Saturdays I did the three mile run along Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach. Also used to surf on weekend mornings. Every other month or so I ran a 10K in town. Best finish -44:50 in a Coronado to Balboa Park race. So the phone rings, and it's my girlfriend (now beloved wife). I tell her I'm heading to the gym, she suggests stopping over at her place. Never got to the gym that night. Never been in that kinda shape since. Not that I'd change anything, it's just priorities change as we go through life's transitions. Balance is hard, but it can be achieved.
Cam Ward got married right after the Cup finals two years ago. Cam had a crappy 2006-2007 season. Cam's play is better this season, but not great thus far. Eric Staal got married before this season. Think about the demands on his time and attention right now. He's got Pete Friesen breathing down his neck with dietary regimens and conditioning demands. He's got older and lower-salaried teammates, coaches and a GM looking at him to prove he deserves the cash and the "A" on his chest. Then he's got momma wanting to pick out linens, plant Geraniums, schedule romantic dinners and do all those other things newlyweds get to do. He's got photo shoots, PlayStation 2 game launch events, TV spots for NHL Network and those warm and fuzzy CBC vignettes with his bros, all while trying to maintain his commitment to job #1.
Yeah, Staal's floating a bit, and yeah he seems dis-interested and prone to taking nights off. At least he's not out peeing in public or "making it rain" in the clubs. If he starts to wear Cincinnati Bengals gear, then I'm worried. I say once Eric finds that balance, he'll be back. He's too good of a player; he respects the game too much, and he's too proud and well-grounded to become the next Jeff O'Neill. So I ask for patience with Eric Staal. Using marriage math, he's is still putting toothpicks in the jar. Married guy knows what I'm talking about.