On Thursday, immediately after practice, Guelph Storm goaltender Bradley Van Schubert was heading to the tattoo parlour. The plan was to get an arrow tattooed on his forearm.
As Van Schubert explained it, the arrow was a symbol of how his season has gone and how he wants to move forward in the future: that like an arrow, a person sometimes has to be pulled back before they can go forward.
"You really mature in a year like this. Obviously, it's not the kind of season anybody wants to have, that's for sure. It's been tough on me mentally and it's been a long year," he said.
Van Schubert doesn't have a win this year and has played in just 18 games this season, 13 of them starts. He has just four starts since Christmas.
Last weekend, as overage goaltender Michael Giugovaz gave up three goals in the first period three nights in a row, Van Schubert sat and watched.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to get the message when a team eliminated from the playoffs starts an overage goaltender not playing particularly well all three games of a weekend while an 18 year old sits on the bench.
"I've kept things in perspective. Sure, it's been a tough year, but you could be an 18-year-old kid working a minimum wage job, and I get to play hockey," Van Schubert said.
Any way you look at it, and whoever you blame, it’s hard to deny that Van Schubert has been pulled back this year.
Whether partly his own doing, the organization's doing or the will of the hockey gods: it has been a rough year for the easy-going Barrie native.
And it will almost certainly be his last in Guelph. Van Schubert pretty much confirmed that Thursday.
"Things can change automatically if you move to a different team and you get a way better chance with someone else. That's out there," he said.
Storm coach Jarrod Skalde has his reasons. He just isn't airing them publicly. Asked for an on-the-record comment regarding the handling of Van Schubert of late, Skalde was diplomatic.
"We just evaluate it game by game. It's a situation internally that we make this decision. Obviously it's not ideal sitting a goaltender when you play a three-in-three, but that's the decision that we've made.
"It's more a situation of us evaluating it day-by-day and who we think is most prepared to play," Skalde said.
Van Schubert said there hasn't been much communication between he and the coach, Skalde says they have made it clear to Van Schubert why he's not playing.
And the Storm ends up without a single goaltender in the picture for next year.
Giugovaz graduates, Van Schubert will almost certainly be gone and the team's top goaltending prospect, Anthony Popovich, isn't signed and started just 12 games for the tier II Wellington Dukes this season, putting up good numbers but playing less minutes than Van Schubert has in Guelph.
What the Guelph Storm’s opinion of Van Schubert’s goaltending abilities and work ethic are almost secondary at this point. The fact is this should all have been dealt with earlier this season.
Before Christmas he should have either been traded or released and allowed to play elsewhere. But the goaltending picture got crowded and confused in a hurry and Van Schubert ended up here: unhappy and not playing.