The Spryzsaks… The Unique Hockey Family

You might expect to hear a story about a family of hockey players that made it to the show and for that reason they are worthy of mention.  One of them could have made it but for several different reasons it did not happen.  I mention them because among hockey families, they were truly unique.

Ice hockey, for the most part is one of the last bastions of whiteness in North America.  It requires money and dedication by parents to get kids to the rink, pay for clinics, teams and equipment.  The sport becomes your hobby even if you don’t play.  When you’re hauling children around to games and practices, there is very little else left for you to do except work or sleep.

I met John, the father when my son decided to take up the sport at the age of five.  John was one of the Sunday morning, beginner instructors that helped with the little mites.  When my son became proficient enough, he was put on a team.  In his first game, my son played against John’s son Tim.  John’s son looked like a chubby Asian child of Japanese or Korean lineage.  The boy looked nothing like his dad but every bit his mother’s son.  Tim was their youngest son’s name and if ever there was a kid perfect for the sport of ice hockey, it was this child.  He had legs like a running back and trying to catch him with the puck was like trying to catch a rabbit in your backyard.  Tim could stickhandle at the age of six, hit perfect passes on the tape and shoot a wrist shot.  Tim got bored with scoring and would just set up other players as a mite.  While other kids tottered around like old people at a senior’s dance, Tim breezed around the ice with ease.

John approached me years later and asked if I would like to coach with him.  John was notorious in that he said whatever came to mind.  If he thought you were an asshole, he wouldn’t hold back.  A woman once walked into the local pro shop and rubbed her elbow against John’s shoulder as he philosophized and loitered.  The woman knew John and coyly set herself up for a put down when she stated that “I have a question for you”.  John moved his body away from her, looked her in the face and said, “I have the answer…  If our species relied on the two of us getting together, we’d become extinct.”  The woman walked out embarrassed and miffed.  John went right on talking.

John Jr.  or just Junior, was a year older than Tim.  Everything that Junior was able to do, came through hard work.  Junior was an intelligent smart ass that wore his straight black hair down to the middle of his back.  He looked like Indian princess and was called such in a game in Toronto.  Right of the face off of the 1st period of a game, Junior crossed checked across the cage and sat for five minutes because he was teased about his long hair.  He later went to the locker room of a team from London, Ontario and invited each and every one of them to come out and fight him.  Junior told the border guard at Windsor that he was being kidnapped by the white man driving as a joke and nearly landed John in jail.  Junior dipped people’s water bottles in the commode when they were dicks.  As a midget of seventeen years of age, he came to the rink to watch me coach a bunch of mites early on a Sunday morning.  When I asked why he was there, he told me he had been up all night and decided to watch the little ones play.  It was heart warming to see this jaded young man who hated the world, show up to watch a random mite game and tell the little ones that they did well.  John grew to be my friend and some times I think I was his only friend.  His sons felt like my sons and we all had a connection through the love of the game.

A youth hockey organization was giving consideration to letting John be the head coach of their midget team but asked me if I would be his assistant and help rein him in when necessary.  I said I would.  The hockey director of the organization was the son of a general manager of an NHL franchise which had floundered for years.  Before I had a chance to tell John that I had talked the club into giving him a chance to coach, I saw him standing over two men on the board of directors that he had great disdain for.  As John walked up the bleachers to watch an informal pre-season scrimmage that Tim and Junior were a part of as well as my own son, John stared down the two men on the board that he disliked and then posed a rhetorical question- What the fuck are you looking at?  I tried to pull John away but he wasn’t budging.  He wanted to get his point across and so he did.

“Boards are for people like you two fucking pansies to provide a place for your kids to play.  Take a good look on the ice…  Who do you think the two fucking worst skaters are out there?  I’ll clue you both in….  Your son and your fucking son too.  Now who are the best?  That would be my sons and his son.  Now you went out and spent a butt load of money to have the son of the worst general manager in the history of the NHL to do for you what his dad has been doing for years which has been dick.  Speaking of dick, I’d like to take you two fairies out in the parking lot and smack you around until you cry but you being lawyers and all, I think I might wind up in jail, right?  I mean you wouldn’t want to be a man about this all and tell me to shut the fuck up and invite me to go out to the parking lot to settle this like men, right?  No that would take a nut sack which neither of you has  between you…  You don’t want me to coach here?  Fuck you and fuck you and fuck the son of Sam out there who will gladly take your dough.”

I waited until John calmed down a moment and then broke the news to him.  “You were the head coach of the midget team for a full twenty minutes before you verbally accosted the two men who agreed to give you the job.”

John for the first time ever that I can remember, did not say a word.  I went on to tell him how I sold the board on how well you would work with older kids.  John thanked me and walked out.  If you ever met John, Junior or Tim, you would agree that the three of them love the sport, play the sport and really understand the sport and keep hockey from being too predictable.  If you ever have an hour of your life to donate, we can have a beer with them.  You would not be disappointed.

Advertisements

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: