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Loose Change: Nothing to play for?

Inevitably – Mr. NHL hockey player – you have to admit when it’s over.

Despite you team’s “best” efforts, sometimes you fall just short of qualifying for the playoffs (for the Lightning, “just short” translates to something akin to a turtle trying to jump a swimming pool).

This, of course, also means you’ll be finding yourself fundamentally uninspired, participating in scheduled games with nothing, effectively, to play for.

Think again Darcy Tuck...I mean, NHL player.

While it would seem to be the easiest course of action to simply “play out the string,” be aware that string really isn’t much fun to play with and you actually do have something to compete for; a number of things, in fact.

You could:

1. Play for a new contract. Undoubtedly a number of you are in the last year of your present deal and finishing with a flourish (hint: GMs love high leg kicks and salsa rhythms) may guarantee you a decent offer over the summer.

If you’re over 35, have less than three goals (in the season, or your career) or intimately know the ushers of your American League farm team by name, feel free to tank the remainder of the schedule. Old fart, your time has come.

2. Play for your teammates. One would assume you’re already doing this, but if, for some reason, you haven’t been a team player, now would be a good time to start being one.

And you wonder why no one took care of the dude who crushed your kidney (twice, on the same shift).

3. Play for a Big Finish. (as opposed to a big Finnish – assuming you have at least one teammate who calls Helsinki, “his hood”). Many times fans and media are creatively deceived into thinking your team had a better season than it actually did.

Win a string of games near the end and they might forget you were mathematically eliminated in November (of last year).

4. Play for Pride. This particular one implies and encapsulates a lot.

Basically, if you have any decency and a professional work ethic whatsoever you’ll take your stick out with you when take your next shift, for a change.

5. Play for Your Sponsor. Sure, you only have four goals this season, but that sporting goods company is paying you $400K to look respectable during the 48 seconds a night you get on the ice, playing wing on the fourth line.

At least do it for Kai Tang, that cute nine-year-old Korean kid who makes your skates.

6. Play For that Kid in the Hospital.
No, not that kid with the chronic lung thing or that other one with the really, really pale skin, I mean the one with the runny nose who smells like pastrami.

No one ever plays for him.

7. Play to Stay Fit. Your dismal record means your team hasn’t likely won a lot of games, which means your team hasn’t likely scored a lot of goals, which also means you haven’t had a lot of opportunities to reach towards the heavens this season.

This translates to weak arms – and we all know the phenomenal arm strength required to hit a four iron from the deep rough.

The preceding was purely fictional and meant for entertainment purposes only. By entertainment, we mean we hope you laughed while reading it, framing it, or burning it. Any similarities between this and actual events is strictly coincidental and frankly, dumb luck. Remember to remind your lawyer about the made-up part, OK?

Charlie Teljeur, creator of THN's hockeysockpuppettheatre, brings you Loose Change every Thursday only on thehockeynews.com. Subscribe to The Hockey News today to have Charlie's cartoon delivered to you in each issue.

Want to talk to Charlie about love, life, or Loose Change? Email him at charlieteljeur@hotmail.com.

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