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Life on the Road

Life on the Road: Steroids and redeyes and quiet locker rooms



PHOENIX, 12:43 a.m., Sunday – What’s it like to sit at an airport gate at this hour, waiting on a redeye flight to Dallas? About as exciting as you’d expect. Gate F11, as you can see above, is a beehive of human energy and passion.

All you can really do in an airport is kill time. Most people do that staring at their phones. There is a guy – a young guy even – reading from an actual paper book near me. Maybe it’s required reading for a college course. A few people are playing cards. Some are just dozing off.

Taking redeyes is a very lonely experience. Nothing is open in the airport. Everybody is a stranger. I’m on Spirit Airlines tonight, on the way to Dallas. Normally, I hate redeyes, but in this case, I’m just coming from a game in Phoenix and sometimes you just want to move on. Sometimes, I’d rather just get out of town instead of going back to some hotel/airbnb and only getting a few hours of sleep and then having to get up and get out to an airport in the morning crush of humanity. At least, it’s quiet here. And, knock on wood, the flight is actually on time.

I’ll have to kill some time in Dallas in the morning, though. Can’t check in that early to my Airbnb. I might spend the time down at the grassy knoll. It’s a horrible piece of American history, the JFK assassination, but it’s a powerfully strange experience being there and I’m a history buff and all that. I’ve been there a bunch of times, but it’s been a few years since I’ve walked around by the Book Depository building where Lee Harvey Oswald committed the heinous act of murdering a President, 56 years ago this month.

And no, I don’t believe there was an extra gunman. Oswald acted alone. I’ve read a couple of exhaustive books on the subject and read much of the Warren Report. There’s just no evidence of any other gun, bullets or shooter, no matter how much you want to believe in the conspiracy theories.

Tonight was a little different than the usual road game for me. A kid from Arizona State University named Reagan Smith got up the courage to ask to “shadow” me in the press box for the Avs-Coyotes game, and the Coyotes obliged him with a credential.

So, he sat next to me the whole game and we hung out some after the game too (and even taped a podcast segment that’ll post tomorrow). He got to see what life is like in an NHL locker room after a shutout loss for a team. Hint: it’s quiet.

Kid is a junior at ASU and is part of the journalism/media program there. Not sure he’ll want to pursue a career in the biz or not after tonight, lol, but he did get a real feel for what it’s like. He even got to ride the elevator down with me and Joe Sakic after the game and hear me talk about back issues with Joe.

I’m still taking steroids for ongoing back pain. Got an MRI on Friday morning and the news isn’t great. Doc said I have a tear in one disc that is leaking out a bit on a nerve, and a bone spur outside another disc – scar tissue essentially, from a back surgery 22 years ago – that is pushing out on another nerve. Surgery is likely. Until then, I’m on a regular daily dose of Prednisone, which takes away the pain but seems to make me a bit drowsy and stuff. Not too bad, but it makes you feel a bit zoned out at times.

Speaking of zones, they are announcing the upcoming zones for boarding on my flight. I’m in a middle seat – seat 3B. Hey, at least I’m going to be one of the first people off the plane.

Talk to you from Dallas.

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