The team was created through a lot of hard work after a failed attempt at private ownership. In the team’s inaugural season, a trophy was hoisted, a banner was raised and gold sticks were brought home. The feeling of accomplishment and pride in the 2011/12 season is something I will never lose.
While talking to a friend last night, I was told “It’s just a team.”
But it isn’t just a team, and you can’t know that unless you’re in the dressing room; unless you’re on the bench. Unless you’re jogging around the grand stands for the sixth time in just as many hours, after taking off your equipment for the third time that day. You don’t know it isn’t just a team unless you played on it. Unless you know how it feels to have your defense partner be the one to tell you “We’re still in it.” Unless you were one of the three who came back from concussions; unless you were one of the five who spent your Christmas vacation at the rink.
The Thunder is something special; a team that believes in acceptance, in hard work. The Thunder is not a group of individuals, but a tight-knit family.
The Thunder is why I didn’t last a full month of retirement before coming back. Why I spent 24 days feeling absolutely empty without my team, without the excessive amount of ice, without early morning practices, and late night skates.
I was away for a miserable 24 days, but I’m lacing up my skates this weekend, rejoining the team that is going to break more records, give ‘em hell, and bring home another gold medal.