NWHL, Don’t Put All Your Olympians In One Basket

First things firsts: I love having the US Olympians in the NWHL and I can’t wait for them to come back. I’m glad the league (and the CWHL for Canada) lets these elite players take the season off to centralize and work together to put forth the best teams for PyeongChang 2018. But one thing that their absence this season has shown us, is that the NWHL has done itself a disservice in allowing the US Olympians in the league to lopsidedly play for the Boston Pride.

I admit, I’m a Riveters fan, and so maybe that perspective marks me as biased. After all in the first season, the Riveters had no current Olympians; even last year, while we did have #BestKessel, one of the best Olympians possible, she was hurt for a big part of the season, and she was still just one skater. Buffalo and Connecticut each had a few. And then there’s Boston, hoarding their Olympians like a dragon, and not surprisingly racking up the wins just as greedily.

Look, I get it. From a purely logistical standpoint, it makes sense. The trainer most of these players used from before the NWHL existed was based in Boston. Why mess with a good thing after such an impressive (if ultimately heartbreaking and soul-destroying) result in Sochi? Plus, many of them had been part of the CWHL’s Boston Blades, which meant they all had housing and jobs in the Boston area. It’s logical that they would stay there. But logic doesn’t always make for the best product, and here’s why.

Overloaded Pride

The Boston Pride went on a winning streak from January 10, 2016 to March 12, 2017, including 4 playoff games. They outscored their opponents a total 126-46. When the Pride were on the schedule for the week, you didn’t hold out much hope. And why not, when they were stacked with Hilary Knight, Brianna Decker, Meghan Duggan, and Alex Carpenter, just to name a few. While the Pride only had 4 shutouts in that timeframe, scoring a couple goals was never going to be enough to win. The other three teams could sometimes give the Pride a tough game, but on average the Pride beat their opponents by just about 3 goals per game. It finally took the scrappy Riveters to win 3-2 on the last game of the 2016-2017 regular season to end the Pride’s streak of 27 games (23 regular season, 4 playoff).

Good teams are great to see, but it’s different in a league of 4 teams total, and when the good team is that way from being overloaded with top talent rather than the team having chemistry that rocketed them to the top. That’s not to say that the Pride didn’t have chemistry, but it’s chemistry that was helped by playing for the US as well as the Blades. It’s a chemistry the other 3 teams didn’t get to experience. Of the 10 members of the 2017-2018 USWNT who were in the NWHL last season, 7 of them were on the Pride. (Of the other 3, two were Buffalo Beauts, and 1 was a New York Riveter.) Imagine the 10 players spread out more, around 2-3 per team.

Dismantled Pride

The 2017-2018 season, however, is markedly different. The members of the USWNT are not signed with NWHL teams at this time, as they centralize and focus on preparing for the Olympics–and this means that things are very different for the Boston Pride. With 7 elite players gone, along with the normal losses that can happen between seasons with free agency, the Pride have a lot of new faces on the ice. These players are all still very good, to be sure, but after four weeks, the Pride currently sit in last place at 0-3-1.

This year so far they’ve been outscored 8-14, losing by an average of 1.5 goals per game. It’s early, though, and their last two games saw them score 3 goals in each. Their last game against the Whale they held a 3-1 lead late in the third before losing in a shootout. So there’s chemistry starting, and I doubt this losing streak will last much longer.

In comparison, look at the Metropolitan Riveters. They’ve started the year perfectly, 4-0-0. They have the most goals of the four teams, and they certainly benefit from the fact that their turnover from last season was the least of all the teams. And they also only lost one skater to the Olympic centralization. So they have that chemistry that has built over the previous seasons.

As much as some fans of the other three teams might enjoy getting some W’s against the Pride, Boston’s fans certainly can’t be thrilled by the start, not when they’re so used to easy success from their team.

For the Fans

We hear the league and its players tout the “Grow the Game” phrase, reaching out to inspire young girls to play hockey and reach for their dreams. For the first two years of the league, though, most of the top players were only going to be seen by fans when they came to town. In 2015 we were coming off Sochi, which was a perfect time to start the league, but the players I’d gotten to know in February I could only see a few times when they came to New York. I didn’t get to know any of them like I did my home team.

So what if young players could see their Olympic heroes not 2-3 times a season, but 8 times? What if they could visit them in the autograph line after every game, become friendly with them, really form a bond that can inspire them to not only play the game, but to aspire higher than ever? You don’t get that with the players spread around.

We don’t know if any of the players will be back in the NWHL after the Winter Olympics are over, but at the very least, next season they’ll probably be back. I’m happy to have as many of them in the league as possible, but I really hope they spread out more evenly. It’ll make the competition in the league better, and it’ll be better for fans to have their “own” elite players to get to know well.

Hello, This Is Your 36-Year Wake-Up Call…

Six years ago, almost exactly, I went to my doctor because I wasn’t feeling well, and after blood tests and all I came out with a diagnosis of diabetes. I was upset, understandably, but started on my oral meds and made a promise to take care of myself.

Last Wednesday, I ended up in the hospital with a gross infection (you don’t need details) that was made much worse because my blood sugar was way high and I basically haven’t been taking care of myself like I’d promised. Turns out, with high blood sugar, your body can’t heal itself as well as normal.

After being admitted to the hospital by way of the ER on Wednesday evening, I was finally discharged Sunday afternoon. I paid for the ER visit, I’ll have what I think will be 4 days of in-patient copays, plus all my exciting new drugs to pay for (more on that later). Then there are the doctor follow-ups. Oh, and I missed a week of work last week, and I’ll miss this week as well, and I’m out of PTO. All of this is to say, besides having the physical health manifestations of my poor disease management, I also am going to be in a bit of a tough financial situation, too.

Now, I’m fortunate, I know that. I’m living with my parents at this time, so no rent to pay, plus they can provide a lot of support. I have health insurance, and it’s pretty good health insurance, with all premiums covered by my employer. (The most frustrating part is that I have to elect my new benefits, including my FSA contributions, by the 15th, which isn’t necessarily enough time to know how much I’m going to want to put on the plan, but I’ll know to bump it up significantly from previous years.) The medical care I received has been phenomenal, both from the actual medical expertise to incredible emotional support through the kindness and tough love I got from the doctors and — especially — the nurses who cared for me. Nurses are the most important people in the world, if you didn’t know.

Overall, I’m fortunate that everything is “good”. I’m not in immediate danger anymore. I’m healing well and I’m hopeful to be back to work next Monday — I figure the 3-day week before the Thanksgiving holiday will be a good time to re-acclimate to going to work for 8 hours a day (and driving over an hour total in commutes), as well as practicing some better food habits. Also: giving myself insulin at work.

Because, yeah, I’ve left the hospital on insulin, not an oral drug. That was actually sort of my choice, in that I think if I’d insisted on not doing the insulin, they would’ve put me on the orals. But even as a big needle baby, I got comfortable with the insulin pens they were using for me at the hospital, and one of my nurses even made me start doing it to myself. (I wonder if she suspected that I might need to stay on it longer than I was ready to admit.)

Throughout my stay, I was constantly verifying my name and date of birth, which meant constantly remembering that my birthday is coming up this week (Thursday, in fact!). I’ll be 36. I’m not having any kind of age-related crisis, but this all going down right before my birthday does make for a pretty handy marker for a big set of changes in my life. I don’t know what goals I want to have before I turn 37 — I’m not sure what’s realistic at this point — but I do want to come up on my next birthday feeling like I made significant improvements over this one.

So, it’s my 36-year wake up call. I’m not hitting the snooze button.

Photo by Daan Stevens on Unsplash

XFRW: 1X03 “Conduit”

I’ll be straight with you: I am fighting a cold, tired, and this isn’t one of my favorite episodes. So this will probably be short. (If you are just joining us here, maybe you’d like to check out the first three episodes to see that I actually do enjoy this project!)

I don’t think I’ve mentioned it specifically yet, but I will not be doing 200+ posts in this project. Some episodes that fall to the bottom of the barrel will get combined into posts for quicker passes — the next post, actually, will be the first of these. So you may be saying, Katie, you just said this wasn’t one of your favorites? Why not combine this with another? It’s a legit question! But the reason is actually pretty simple:

(Fun Fact: Her middle initial changes to "A" later in the series.)

(Fun Fact: Her middle initial changes to “A” later in the series.)

This episode never really ends up connecting to the larger mytharc; possible abductee Ruby is very vague and tight-lipped upon her return about what happened. But what is so important here is that it’s really the first time we get to see how Mulder was affected by his sister’s abduction. We heard about the incident in the Pilot episode, but that was just the story, told pretty flat and matter-of-fact. But here, we get to see into his pain, into that missing that so often can’t be put into words.

They are not at all subtle in drawing the parallels.

They are not at all subtle in drawing the parallels.

Basically, this episode is a whole bunch of Samangstha (a word I just made up this very moment). It shows itself in nice ways, in how Mulder speaks with Ruby’s little brother Kevin (who’s somehow receiving binary signals from satellites?), in how Mulder’s happy to sass the national security guys shirtless to try and protect Kevin, and in how pained he looks when he think he may have found Ruby’s body — after all, if Ruby was abducted but is now buried, what does this mean for his sister?

And at the end of the episode, we even get a shot of Mulder appearing to be praying in a church:


While we haven’t really touched on it yet in the series, the church and religion are far more Scully’s area than Mulder’s, so this scene so early in the series is a bit of a shock when looking back.

Speaking of the end, the music during this last bit is absolutely beautiful. Mark Snow’s scores are always solid, and he manages the slide from dark and creepy to sweet and tender to light and humorous so well throughout the entire series. You can listen to it below, while reading the voiceover that goes with it.

DR. WERBER: But your eyes are open?

MULDER: Yeah, they’re open but it’s like, nothing’s happening.

DR. WERBER: Try turning your head.

MULDER: I can’t.

DR. WERBER: Why not?

MULDER: I don’t know. I can’t move, so I don’t…I just lie there in bed.

DR. WERBER: Can you see your sister?

MULDER: No, but I can hear her.

DR. WERBER: What is she saying?

MULDER: She’s calling out my name, over and over again. She’s crying out for help but I can’t help her. I can’t move.

DR. WERBER: Are you scared?

MULDER: I know I should be but I’m not.

DR. WERBER: Do you know why?

MULDER: Because of the voice.

DR. WERBER: The voice?

MULDER: The voice in my head.

DR. WERBER: What’s it telling you?

MULDER: Not to be afraid. It’s telling me no harm will come to her, and that one day she’ll return.

DR. WERBER: Do you believe the voice?

MULDER: I want to believe.

Since it’s so early in the show, I wonder if watching this live and new right when it aired, rather than after I already had a lot of Samangstha episodes down, might give a more favorable feeling about this episode. It’s a little like the Pilot, in that I get sort of a “this is how it all started” feel from it, but not nearly as strong or satisfying. I’d love to hear if you have a different take! Leave a comment, or tweet me, or leave a reply on Facebook, however you feel more comfortable joining in. You can also share your giant binary drawings of your sibling or other loved one!

That's seriously impressive, Kevin.

That’s seriously impressive, Kevin.

As mentioned at the start of this post, the next post will be combining some episodes together: “The Jersey Devil” and “Shadows”. That puts a teeny bit less pressure on me to think of brilliant things to say about meh episodes, and it mean we get to a really awesome episode that much faster!

Thanks so much for everyone’ who’s read, commented, or liked a post on Twitter/FB! While I’m doing this for me, I also love when you all get involved, too.