From the start, Nightmare on Hockey was a strange and sometimes disorienting experience.
The game was staged on the New York City subway, and it featured hockey’s most recognizable players and mascots.
I was only a few rows behind the bench, watching the New Jersey Devils and New York Islanders fight for a playoff spot.
(The Islanders are still there.)
After a while, I began to notice that the rink was cold.
The ice had a texture like snow.
But the players, who played in a raucous, neon-lit rink that felt like a hockey rink but with more of a hockey mask, seemed to be more interested in their teammates’ bodies than in the ice itself.
It was the first time in a hockey game that I had experienced an NHL game that was truly scary.
This is the second in a series about the league’s first NHL season.
(Full disclosure: This is a condensed version of the first part.)
The first time was the Stanley Cup finals in 2000.
It took place in Philadelphia, which had a reputation for being a hockey town, but I wasn’t feeling it then.
My father had died a few years earlier.
My brother, who was six at the time, was living with a mental health care provider.
In hindsight, it’s not that I thought hockey was dangerous or even dangerous.
I just didn’t care enough.
(For the record, my brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in 2010.)
My first night in the rink, I was watching a Flyers-Vancouver Canucks game.
I started screaming at the top of my lungs, “No way!
There’s no way!”
But when the game began, I realized that I was witnessing a dream.
The Canucks were playing the Flyers, and the team’s goalie, Sergei Bobrovsky, had been outplayed by the Red Wings’ Henrik Zetterberg.
When the game ended, my father came out of his room, looked me in the eye, and said, “Your son was the most dangerous player on the ice tonight.”
The dream ended in tragedy.
In the years since, I have seen many similar nightmares, which I describe in a book I co-authored, Nightmares: An Insights Into the Mind of a Dreamer.
My wife, Tania, and I have watched a lot of them, and we can all relate.
It can be hard to put your life back together when your dreams are coming true.
But we can’t allow ourselves to be trapped by our own expectations.
If we allow our expectations to override our feelings, it can make us feel hopeless, which can actually make things worse.
We need to put a stop to our self-imposed darkness, because darkness makes us less vulnerable to the world around us.
I don’t know how to put it any better: My own dreams are often the nightmares of my father and me.
I have a good memory of that night in Brooklyn.
I recall that the night I had my dream, my dad was walking into the office of the sports-information department of a Brooklyn-based sports-talk radio station.
I didn’t remember him well enough to be able to tell him who I was.
But he was a man who knew a lot about sports and about people, and he was standing at the end of a long hallway, staring out into a sea of reporters.
The announcer asked, “What do you think about this guy?”
I answered, “He’s the greatest goaltender of all time.”
I had been dreaming about this story for years.
He asked, What would you tell him?
I answered that I would tell him, “That guy’s the most terrifying goalie in the world.”
The announcers were shocked.
I think they thought that was an impossible dream.
And I knew that they were.
When I finally awoke in the morning, my dream was in full swing.
I had gone back to sleep for almost four hours, but the next morning, the dream continued.
This was my dream.
I remember that night very clearly, and for the next six months, it stayed with me every time I woke up.
It made me feel like I was in a dream, because I could not be awake.
My dreams are all about the dreams.
When you dream, you have a lot more control over your life.
And the most important thing to remember is that your dreams should never, ever stop.
Even when you’re awake, it should always be your dream, no matter what.