Archive for the ‘hockey stories’ Category

Breaking the Man Code

November 26, 2017

Jake loves hockey as much as a person could love something that does
not breathe and live.  Jake sold hockey equipment by day and broke
away from his sales job to play hockey and then at night he played
league hockey and coached youth hockey.  When he wasn’t doing all of
that, he was watching NHL hockey on television.  He also loves his
pit-bull named Daisy and to play acoustic guitar and sing in Brazilian
Portuguese even though he could only speak English.  Jake learned at a
young age that Portuguese and guitar gets women in the mood fast.

Jake loved meeting new girls.  The thrill of hello, how do you do?
What do you like to do?  Where have you gone? Would you like to come
home with me?  The life span of a female in Jake’s life was about 6o
days.  The end was near whenever he began to hear, “where do I fit
into your plans?”

One day Jake walked from the parking lot of the ice rink towards the
front entrance; standing in front of the doors was Jan’s mom.  She was
a tall Polish woman who wore skin tight Yoga pants and had a beautiful
face.  Beata smiled at Jake and asked if she could talk to him a
moment.  First thing Jake thought was that she was going to ask if Jan
could play defense.  The defensive position was the prize for Jake.
The best, fastest, most capable players went to defense.  Jan was slow
and had stone hands.  Jake wondered what the pretty woman was going to
ask.
“I wanted to know if maybe you might want to go out for a drink some time.”
In Jake’s head he heard, “I wanted to know if you might want to go
out for a drink some time and then fuck the shit out of me…”
Of course Jake said yes.  They went to a Polynesian bar where eastern
European women dressed in Hawaiian skirts.  Jake and Beata had a
Zombie and then Scorpions and then a mai tai each before returning to
Beata’s apartment.   Jan was spending the weekend with his father.
Things followed the course that they were following and before long,
Jake was spending many nights with Beata and Jan.  People on the team
began to notice that the coach was bringing Jan to games and practices
when Beata was busy.  They began to notice that Jan was on the power
play and the penalty kill and centering between two really good wings.
Parents smelled something not right in the woodpile.

Jake is a good coach.  He fundamentally teaches the kids to play well
together.  Jake also had the good fortune of having several really
good players that played well together.  How well?  Undefeated with
only a few goals against them.  Their goalie had to stay focused by
watching the game in between making snow castles with his goalie
stick.  Oh sure the goalie would raise his arms every now and then for
an icing but their zone was a lonely place.  Rather than make the kids
work harder when it came to off ice training, Jake introduced a game
to them that they had never heard of before called Cricket.  Unless
you’re from a country with the Queen on the money, drive on the left
with the wheel on the right and stop for afternoon tea, you’re not
familiar with the sport.  It is a lot like baseball but then again it
is not.  Right outside the ice rink was a large field with artificial
turf.  Jake had learned to play the game with Jamaicans and
Indian/Pakistanis and so the kids played for 3o minutes after they’re
on ice practices.  All the players took it for what it was except Jan.
On the first bowl or pitch as they say in baseball, the large center
creamed a boundary or a home run and got six runs!  Think of a home
run with the same amount of points as a touch down.  Jake was the
official bowler for both sides.
“This game blows and the sides totally suck.  Jack promised money to
his brother to pick all the worst players on our side.  We’re gonna
get creamed,” whined Jan to Jake.
Jake looked at Jan and wondered if he was for real.  Baseball and
football was too competitive among the players so Jake chose Cricket.
Who could get mad about Cricket?  Jan did.  The score was 42-0 since
the side in the field had not come to bat yet.  They would bat after
next practice.  In the car ride home, Jan critiqued the hockey players
Cricket skills.
“Scott is afraid to catch the ball with his hands for sure…  We all
kind of are.  Why don’t we use mitts?  Its cold out and that ball
hurts to catch.”
“Cricket isn’t played with a mitt.”
“It’s a dumb game and nobody likes it or plays it.  I think you just
made the whole thing up”
“Really?  They were all fighting over who bats first.  Tell you what…
I will let you be one of the captains next time and you can pick who
you want and there should be no problems…  How does that sound?”
“Fine…”
Jake put his gear and Jan’s around the radiator in the room that
nobody uses and closed the door.  In one hour everything would be dry.
Jake ate dinner with Jan and Beata.  Beata said nothing and Jake was
watching the Montreal Canadians playing the Boston Bruins without
blinking while stuffing pasta and chicken into his mouth.  Beata asked
Jan about homework and told him to take a shower and go to bed.  Later
that night, Jake was horny.  Jake was often horny and since Jan was in
bed and it was not too late and it looked like there was no rain outs
due to menstruation or headaches, Jake took a good shower and slipped
into bed next to Beata.  Her shirt barely covered her ass and her
tight under pants made Jake’s John Thomas stand erect and at attention
without even so much as a kiss.  Jake brushed his stiffness against
Beata as she read something on her tablet while lying on her side,
faced away from Jake.  Jake pressed himself against Beata and kissed
her neck.  She turned around and straight armed Jake, looked into his
eyes and said the words no man wishes to hear before attempting to
throw himself into the throes of passion.
“We need to talk…”
The talk left Beata with a cold shoulder and Jake with blue balls.
The next afternoon, it was Jake’s job to pick up Jan from school, get
him a snack and take him to hockey.  Jan walked towards the car glued
to a little electronic tablet.  He threw his pack back in the back
seat, got in the front without ever taking his eyes from the screen.
Jan said nothing to Jake and Jake said nothing to Jan.  At a red
light, Jan asked Jake what they were going to do at hockey practice.
“I have new things I want to work on…”
Later that night at the ice rink, Jake quietly but sternly spoke to
all the boys getting ready in the locker room.  They stopped talking
to listen to him.
“How many of you have seen a naked woman on the internet?”
A few raised their hands and looked at one another and laughed.
“I bet most all of you have Googled some strong shit…  Am I right?
I’m sure you all have seen things I’ve never done.  I would be willing
to bet my whole kingdom on that and I’ll bet that if you haven’t been
caught whacking off to the stuff by your mom who innocently entered
your room to collect your dirty clothes… Unless you’ve been caught,
your mom would have no idea.  At the end of the night, I don’t see any
of you telling your mom that you had a great day, learned a lot of
shit at school and just happened to find a website featuring goats and
blonde chicks.  I’m sure that doesn’t come up…  Am I right?  With that
in mind, there is a man code.  Things that happen in this locker room
are not discussed with momma at the end of the night.  I should never
hear things that I am saying being repeated back to me.  There should
be no complaints about Cricket teams or who is on the power play or on
what line or at what position or anything.  If I cared what your
parents thought, I would ask them.  I don’t ask them because if I do,
I elevate them up to my level…  in their minds… And…  I really don’t
give a fuck what they think.  I don’t ever tell them how to work at
their jobs and they should not feel free to tell me how to coach… So I
can’t say who it is but one of you is a leaker.  A tattletale.  A
fink.  A stool pigeon.  A blabbermouth… We will for go the usual
practice and exercise out of you like a poltergeist, the desire to
discuss private things with your parents.  After today, I don’t think
we will have this problem any longer…  I dunno… We’ll see”
Jake set up a trashcan in the middle of the ice as all the skaters
stood on the goal line.
“If you feel the need to vomit, you are free to use this garbage can
here.  If you hurl chunks of oatmeal on the ice, you will be cleaning
that up and then going back to skating…  Do we understand each other?”
The boys skated until their faces were red and they looked as if they
might collapse or vomit.  A few fought back tears.  A couple grabbed
their asthma inhalers but none of them complained or got off the ice
early.  When ice was finished, they all did sprints, push-ups and
sit-ups rather than the jolly old game of Cricket.
Upon returning home, Beata put Jan to bed after dinner and came down
stairs with a glass of wine for her and Jake.  Beata turned off the
Vancouver/Los Angeles game with two minutes to go in the second
period.  Beata wore a skimpy outfit, lit some candles, put on  Bossa
Nova Music, put the dog in the other room and right there on the
imitation bear rug, Jake and Beata made love, if you believe in love.
If you don’t, they fucked and then lay against one another on the
couch.  After leaning against one another for a few minutes, Beata
turned the television back on.  The third period was about to begin
(talk about rhythm method).  Beata nuzzled Jake’s neck as he watched
the game.  Beata asked if she could tell him something.  Jake said
yes.
“I really appreciate you coaching Jan.  It really is a special thing
that you share with him.  He loves hockey as much as you and that’s so
cool…”
“Hmm…  Well thanks for that…”
“I don’t know what happened at practice today but he told me that it
was probably the best practice he ever had and that it was so much
fun.  He specifically asked me to tell you…  Is that cute that he
wanted me to tell you or what?”
Jake smiled, took a sip of his wine, kissed Beata on the forehead and
agreed that it was very cute.  Jake kept smiling and agreed with
himself that devising a plan for the power play at home and scoring is
a really good thing too.  Like a Gordie Howe hat trick- a goal, an
assist and a fight.

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Domesticis Angustia

October 17, 2017

WHY DID YOU PUT THE FUCKING DOG IN THE BASEMENT WHEN I ASKED YOU NOT
TO?  I WOKE UP TO A HOWLING PUPPY COMING THROUGH THE VENTS FROM THE
BASEMENT. AND WHY DID YOU CALL THE GIRLS AT 6;30 THIS MORNING WHEN YOU
KNOW THEY WERE OFF OF SCHOOL  THEY GET TO SLEEP IN AND YOU WAKE ALL OF
US UP WITH AN EARLY MORNING PHONE CALL.  INCREDIBLE

I THOUGHT PUTTING THE DOG IN THE BASEMENT MIGHT ALLOW YOU TO ALL GET
MORE SLEEP.  I POCKET DIALED THE GIRLS.  I’M REALLY SORRY AROUT THAT.
I FORGOT TO LOCK THE PHONE BACK UP AND IT CALLED THEM.

I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU.  REALLY I DON’T.

I KNOW YOU DON’T AND I DON’T UNDERSTAND YOU EITHER.  WHY DO WE HAVE A
DOG? A PUPPY? AND UNTRAINED PUPPY?  YOUR EX-HUSBAND CAN’T FIGURE OUT
WHAT TO DO WITH HIS OWN KIDS WHEN HE’S WITH THEM SO HE TAKES THEM TO
IKEA TO LOOK AT SHIT THEY WON’T BUY AND TO ANIMAL RESCUES TO PET DOGS
HE WON’T HAVE.  YOU WORKED OUT BUYING A DOG WITH YOUR EX-HUSBAND BUT
HE’S NOT WALKING THEM OR CLEANING UP THE SHIT AND PISS.  I GUESS I
DON’T UNDERTAND THAT.

I DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU MADE MY SON SKATE A 60 SECOND DRILL IN
FRONT OF THE WHOLE TEAM AND SINGLED HIM OUT WHEN OTHER KIDS WERE
FUCKING OFF.

OTHER KIDS GOT YELLED AT.  YOUR SON WAS SMILING WHILE I WAS YELLING
ABOUT HORSING AROUND DURING A CONTROLLED SCRIMMAGE.  THAT PROMPTED THE
60 SECOND DRILL.  I SHOULD HAVE JUST THROWN HIM OFF THE ICE.  I KNEW
THAT YOU WOULD COME TO HIS RESCUE WHEN HE’S WRONG.

IS THIS THE REASON WHY YOU SEPARATED HIM FROM ALL HIS FRIENDS DURING
THE SCRIMMAGE AND PUT HIM WITH KIDS WHO CAN’T KEEP UP?

A SCRIMMAGE IS A PRACTICE GAME.  A MAKE BELIEVE GAME.  WE DIDN’T KEEP
SCORE.  NOBODY CHEERED WHEN THEY SCORED.  IT WAS ALL FOR THE GREATER
GOOD OF GETTING BETTER FOR THE DAYS WHEN REFS SHOW UP AND WE DO KEEP
SCORE ON THE SCORE BOARD.  ANY OTHER COMPLAINTS ABOUT ME?  HIS DAD WAS
OUT HAVING A COLD ONE WITH FRIENDS WHILE I COACH HIS CHILD JUST SO HE
CAN SHOW UP FOR THE REAL GAMES AND PROUDLY PROCLAIM- THAT’S MY BOY.  I
GET THE GRIEF, HE GETS THE GRAVY.  HE FINDS THE DOG, WE TAKE CARE OF
IT.  I’M ON THE WRONG END OF THIS I SUPPOSE.

YOU KNOW WHAT’S WRONG?  I SPENT MONEY FOR YOUR DAUGHTER TO EAT A
CHEESEBURGER AT MY FATHER’S BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION AND SHE CHANGED HER
ORDER TO MAC AND CHEESE WHICH SHE DIDN’T EVEN FINISH.

UM…  SHE HAD IT FOR DINNER LAST NIGHT AND SHARED IT WITH YOUR KIDS WHO
HAD NOT EATEN YET WHEN WE CAME BACK FROM HOCKEY PRACTICE.  YOUR FRIEND
ARRIVES WITH A BOTTLE OF PROSECCO TO SIT OUT BACK WITH YOU.  MEANWHILE
BACK AT THE RANCH, I’M MAKING SLIDERS AND FRENCH FRIES FOR ALL THE
KIDS, THE HOUSE LOOKS LIKE HELL BECAUSE OF THE BROKEN GARBAGE DISPOSAL
AND A PUPPY.  I REALLY WISH YOU EX COULD BE THE ONE TO CATCH ALL THIS
BULLSHIT.  HE GETS YOU TO BUY THE KIDS A DOG.  YOU PAY FOR IT, YOU
TAKE CARE OF IT AND HE GETS A FULL NIGHT REST.  GREAT FUCKING DEAL.

I ASKED YOU TO LEAVE THE CONE ON THE DOG’S NECK BUT YOU DON’T.  THE
STITCHES WHERE HIS BALLS USED TO BE COULD EASILY COME OUT AND IF THEY
DO, YOU WILL TAKE HIM TO THE VET.  DOG IN THE CAGE, IN THE BASEMENT
WITH NO CONE.  EVERYTHING WRONG WITH THAT.

THE FUCKING DOG IS TRYING TO SLEEP WITH ME ON THE COUCH WITH A PLASTIC
CONE AROUND IT’S HEAD.  NOT POSSIBLE TO DO.

YOUR FRIEND THE PAINTER JUST SHOWED UP LATE TO PAINT AGAIN AND IS
TALKING ABOUT THE SIZE OF HIS SON-IN-LAW’S COCK. WTF?! RIGHT IN FRONT
OF THE GIRLS.  WHERE DO YOU FIND FRIENDS LIKE THIS?

I COULD ASK WHY THAT WOULD EVEN COME UP BUT NEVERMIND. I NEVER ASKED
YOU TO HIRE HIM.  WE COACHED AND PLAYED HOCKEY TOGETHER BUT I NEVER
HIRE HIM FOR ANYTHING.  HE IS A SLOB.

YOU’RE OUT PLAYING HOCKEY AND I’M BABYSITTING YOUR TALKATIVE PAINTER
FRIEND.  HOPE YOU’RE HAVING FUN.

I’M SITTING NAKED IN THE FUCKING LOCKER ROOM TEXTING YOU INSTEAD OF
WARMING UP.  GUYS ASKED ME IF I’M WRITING A BOOK.  I TOLD THEM NO
BECAUSE I CAN’T GET ONE PUBLISHED.  THEY LAUGHED.  I’M NOT LAUGHING.
THANKS FOR A GREAT SEND OFF.

FUCK YOU FOR MAKING THE DOG HOWL, WAKING UP THE GIRLS WITH YOUR
BLACKBERRY PHONE THAT NOBODY USES ANYMORE, FOR NOT GETTING GLASSES AND
NOT SEEING DOG SHIT IN THE CARPET FROM THE PUPPY THAT WAS UNCRATED
BEFORE YOU LOCKED HIM IN THE BASEMENT, NO CONE, LICKING HIS MISSING
BALLS.  FUCK YOU FOR SINGLING OUT MY CHILD AT HOCKEY LAST NIGHT AND
MAKING SURE HE WAS ON A SHITTY SIDE THAT COULD NOT SCORE…  DID I LEAVE
ANYTHING OUT?

NOPE.  THAT’S GREAT.  GOING ON THE ICE NOW SO I DON’T STROKE OUT AND
DIE FROM FRUSTRATION AND ANGER.

Hockey Coach Versus Baseball Coach

May 19, 2017

I love the sport of baseball.  I grew up playing it in the park and
then one day I spent the night at a friend’s house and went with him
to his little league practice.  The coach of that team told my mom he
would pay my fee if she would let me play.  I wasn’t on my way to the
Dodgers but I was slightly above average and a good pitcher.  When I
go to see my stepson, it brings me back to those days.  My stepson
plays baseball and ice hockey.  I happen to be his hockey coach and so
when I sit in the stands and watch the ball game, I try to just take
it in.
The baseball coach is a local dad who often holds a Starbucks
purchased mug with a top.  Draped over the top of the mug are two or
three tags attached to tea bags.  He sits in the dug out and
encourages kids who are swinging at definite balls and not strikes.
“Good cut, babe…  Don’t help him out now.  Wait for your pitch…  Good
swing now.”
My girlfriend laughed at my coaching style with junior high aged boys
and giggled at the rah-rah nature of  the baseball coach.  Here is how
my pregame speech goes.
Big G is bullying kids in the locker room.  It is all verbal but
nonetheless.  I is the son of my assistant.  His hair is down to his
shoulders and his dad is bald.  I is prone to fucking off before games
too.  I and Big G are not anywhere near dressed for the game.  I come
twenty minutes before the game and give my disclaimer.
“For those of you not dressed in the next few minutes and out in the
hallway stickhandling, you can sit the entire first period.  You think
I’m bullshiting you?  Five minutes…”
Miraculously they are all dressed and taking turns warming up their
hands with a weighted ball.  I take a racquet ball and throw it off of
the wall for the goalie to get warmed up.  When the Zamboni hits the
ice, we go back to the locker room for the final pep talk before
hitting the ice.
“These little bastards have the same access to the league website as
you.  They see you are undefeated and are not going to come in here
and not try.  They know they will have to try harder than ever to beat
the best team in the league.  This is like tug of war.  You pull fast
and hard and get them face first in the shit…  How do you end a
fistfight most of the time?  Who knows?”
One of the guys whose nut hadn’t dropped yet answers.  He is four
feet tall with hair down to his shoulders and has a smile like Jack
Nicholson in The Shining.  He leads the team in penalty minutes and is
the one most likely to hit someone hard.  E is the son of Argentinian
immigrants.  He plays violin and is sadistic.  E answers first.
“Throw the first punch…”
“That’s it…  You hit first, while they’re trying to get their shit
together, you’ve already landed a blow.  Get that first goal.  Fucking
bury them and then we can just play catch when it is running time.
Are we clear?  Remember…  Your goalie is a boy with goalie equipment
and not a goalie.  He just started this sport and it will be your job
to pretend like you have an empty net behind you…  Recap…  No shots,
punch first, pull them face down in the shit…  When you have them by
the nuts, squeeze hard.”
The first period was listless.  The team looked at an under 500 team
and felt that a half speed effort would be enough.  The speech between
the first and second period went like this…
“You all are skating like a bunch of zombies…  Chip the puck into the
neutral zone, gain the centerline, dump it deep and fore check like
you might kill them.  You’re all waddling in like you’re walking out
to right field.  You give their D a chance to get the puck and make a
smart option, they will.  Take that time from them…  Wake up or I will
find 5 guys willing to play this game the way it should be played and
the rest of you can sit and watch.”
Big G tied up the center in a face off in the other team’s zone.  It
is a designed play where the center is tied up and the Defense walks
in and shoots the puck.  We scored on that.  An astute ref would call
interference.  Most of the time they don’t.  The game was close until
the third period and then we broke it open.  Kids got the puck in
deep, worked it back to the point and crashed the net.  After the game
I gave my post game speech.
“We should have buried this team.  They should have had the puck much
less than they did.  You guys forgot how to push yourselves but
tomorrow at practice, we are going to take a little time and remember
to push hard.  You’re tired, the puck squeaks out to the neutral zone,
your gassed and on a break away.  That’s where you find it within you
to finish.  I’m going to help you with that tomorrow.  I don’t want to
hear you have baseball or ballet or whatever.  Your ballet coach
doesn’t give a shit about me and I don’t give a damn about them.
Baseball is barely a sport.  Be here tomorrow.”
C, my stepson had a baseball game the day after the practice.  His
jovial coach gave his post game speech after the team got spanked
18-2.  I’m not going to judge him.  We all have our ways.  I could
hear the post-game talk from the dug out.
“Guys…  I saw some really positive things tonight.  We have to work
on our hitting, fielding, catching and pitching.  I’m not going to lie
to you all.  This was a rough game.  It will get better.  Keep your
chins up.  See you all at practice.”
Was it because a fat child was put at first base that could not bend
far enough to field ground balls?  Was it because the coach’s son
walked in ten runs?  Maybe it was that kids didn’t know how many outs
there were, dropped third strikes, missed cutoff men and a gross
inability to catch and hit.  In the car, the question was posed to me-
how would you have handled this loss?  Answer- a whole lot different.

Nashville and Ottawa- How does that sound to you?

Slapshot quote of the day- “When I yank it everyone with the exception
of my wife will be running for the exits…”

The Emperor’s New Clothes or F#ck the Cubs

October 28, 2016

Gil and Gail packed up their deviled eggs and New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc that they bought while in New Zealand and headed over to their friends Tom and Tam. It was a beautiful fall night more like summer than fall with a full moon. The event was a baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs. Tom, a huge Cubs fan, set up a television outside in front of a fire pit and a trampoline off in the distance.
Gil was born and raised in Los Angeles and was a life long Dodgers fan stranded in the midwest. He walked past a teacher’s union lawn sign and three different lawn signs for Hillary Clinton and a giant blue W painted on a plain white background to signify a win for the Chicago Cubs on the way to Tom and Gail’s backyard. Gail and Tam really liked one another. They met at a Pilates class and became great friends. They watched the Kardashians together at different homes and texted about it at night. Their sons played youth hockey together and Gil was the hockey coach. Gil was quiet owner of an ice hockey pro shop who played hockey, sold hockey and played hockey four to five days a week. Gil and Tammy’s son was thin and good-looking, fast and capable at being a scoring threat at every game. Tom and Tam’s son had man boobs and hips wider than his shoulders. The bookish son of Tom and Tam was slow and had a weak shot. Gil took their son as a favor to his wife who really wanted a friend up in the stands to sit with at games. Tom was jealous that Gil was in good shape and was a good skater and coach. Tom couldn’t skate but was wealthy and had season tickets to all Cubs and Chicago Blackhawks games. Tom was a partner at a law firm and drove a Range Rover and a Corvette with personalized Cubs and Blackhawks Illinois license plates. One license said PWR PLAY 69 and the other said LUV CUB 69. Gil had no hair, was built and had a half missing tooth much like the hockey great Alex Ovechkin and a face full of scars from years of playing ice hockey without facial protection. Gil refused to wear a cage or a half shield while playing and looked like a rough neck. Tom wore black horned rimmed glasses and had looked like an LL Bean model in front of his $5000.00 built in backyard grill, 50 inch television exclusively for the backyard and excellent sound system. A band from the 1980’s called Haircut 100 blared through the speakers while the ball teams silently  took batting practice. Gil stood with a bowl of deviled eggs in a LA Dodgers hat and shirt. Tom wore a Cubs hat with a T-shirt that had a large W on it. He was cooking filet mignon, he offered Gil a beer. Gil declined as he was gluten-free. It irritated Gil when Tom would offer him a beer. Even though Gil had declined dozens of times, Tom would still offer a beer to Gil. Gil had Ceiliaks disease which prevented him from processing gluten properly.
“Tam remembered and purchased a gluten-free, lesbian safe beer for you from Trader Joe’s… You can be like every other man around this town watching this game tonight and start the night properly with a beer.”
Gil opened the beer, tapped it against the bottle Tom was holding and talked about their son’s hockey team. Gil was careful not to say too much and let Tom comment on the high and low points of the season.
“The goalie is brutal… It is truly a testament to your defense that we’ve been in every game. Do you put your best skaters on defense always?”
Gil took a drink of his beer and pondered the best answer to a question he didn’t care to answer truthfully. Gil felt that it was a good idea to be as cryptic as possible with parents when it came to playing time, position and lines. Gil played Tom and Tam’s son on the first line even though he was a slow, tentative, ineffective player. It was a political move to appease his wife who was considering her friend’s feelings.
“I try to find a balance…”
“That is a beautifully scripted answer, coach. People try to figure out where you’re coming from. They want to know if there is something deeper to your tactics. I think mystery comes off as deep but I think I have you figured out, coach…”
“Tommy… This is a night all about baseball. I’m ready to take the night off of hockey. A full moon, great fucking weather, good food, booze and the Dodgers poised to make a California boy proud…”
Beer turned to scotch and then to wine. Bottles and bottles. Blue cheese on choice steaks with gluten-free pasta. It was a night to remember. A clear, full moon and August like weather in October. The game turned ugly for Gil. The Dodgers tanked and were getting crushed by the Cubs. It was a debacle not unlike when Gil was young and the Dodgers would lose every year to the Yankees. It might have been a moment of hurt pride that caused Gil to change from a good-natured fan to a critical observer of the type of man he disdained- bragging, rich, unathletic, pudgy Chicago fan. The Dodgers were losing by a touch down when Tom lit a cigar and laughed at the score between innings. Gil told Gail that he wanted to leave. she was having a great time without having to watch her children and she did not want to cut the night short and return home yet. The game ended with a huge Cubs win. Tam put on a song that harkened back to Burt Bacharach buy a band called Cousteau. No relation to Jacques called, The Last Good Day of the Year.
There’s something there
Among the fallen fruit and flowers, won’t rest
Only minutes, only hours unless
Now the morning breaks in showers, I guess
We’ll remember this all of our lives
On the last good day of the year
Gil sat and looked at the full moon as a gentle breeze blew through the leaves in the trees that were ready to turn colors and fall. Tom was going on and on about the Cubs and then switched to politics. After a beer, a scotch and many glasses of wine, Gil was ready to speak freely, uninhibited or reserved. Tom was taken by surprise.
“Fuck you. Fuck the Cubs, fuck unions, fuck Hillary and fat kids who really don’t want to play ice hockey… Enjoy your win you fucking pompous asshole. I hope Hillary gets the same fucking treatment Nixon got for the minor shit he did compared to that cunt.”
Gil knew that his wife hated the word cunt and that most women had a thing against the word. Both Tam and Gail gasped and tried to get Gil to calm down. It only made him angrier.
“You want to let all the Mexicans in? All the Syrians? Every fucking moderate who makes their wife cover their whole fucking face like a goddamn Ninja? Fuck you and your W shirt and Hillary lawn sign… Your kid is going to wind up with heart disease by high school if you don’t discover the word no. No you can’t eat whatever you want and drink sugary bullshit. Your son has bitch tits… I know that might be harsh to hear but you can thank the Cubs and Hillary. Bitch fucking tits on a 10-year-old and why? Because you can’t say no to him? You wanna know why my kid is fast? Because he eats yogurt instead of gummy worms and fucking Doritos…”
” I think you’re angry Tom…”
“Yes, I am. When unathletic fucks like you gloat, I get mad. You don’t know dick about how to really win and it falls into your lap tonight and you’re like a fucking scientist about baseball. Yes… The fast capable kids play defense on my teams and really I believe your son would be happier with a hot dog and a drink up in the stands next to you than forechecking. You got season tickets and you want your little son of sam to play like Kane or Toews.”
Gail came up and hugged Gil and put her hand over his mouth. Gil pushed Gail away in a way that let her know that he was not done. Tom had enough drinks to stand up to Gil and he did.
“You’re mad that the Dodgers lost and that Trump is about to go down in flames. Too many people do not buy into the Hitleresque bullshit spewed by Trump. Mexicans are the paste that holds this country together. Who is going to do the shit they do for the money they make? Big strong, stupid, flag waving, tear-in-the-eye patriot who hates anything not white. You’re the big hockey coach but you weren’t quite good enough to make it so what do you do? You coach.”
Gil took a step towards Tom with the thought to give Tom a smack. Tom sneered and raised his chin as if to say, “smack me! I don’t give a shit.”
“You know something, fuckface? I won’t ever apologize for being white. I won’t ever apologize for not blindly trusting people who hate me. Vote for whoever you fucking want. Why do we all got to know who it is? Why not put up a lawn sign that says you need a little blue pill and porn to make it with your old lady? You know what? All I need is a little text telling me to get home fast and my dick hurts to be cramped up in my jeans knowing that it’s going between my old lady’s legs just as soon as possible. You like baseball analogies? I’m the fucking closer who doesn’t need a warm up pitch. Put me in cold and I’ll finish the game…”
The women left the two men alone who were about to come to blows. Tom was about to rebut Gil when the women put on a song from the 1980’s from their youth. It was a Sinead O’Connor song called The Emperor’s New Clothes. In the light of the moon, the two men watched their rather fit middle-aged wives sing and bounce on the trampoline naked slathered in coconut oil. The oil glistened off of their breasts. The men stopped fighting and looked on at their wives without saying a word. Tom poured a glass of wine for himself and Gil. The men stripped down to nothing and joined the ladies on the trampoline on probably the last good day of the year. The song played on repeat while they made love or something resembling love beside one another.
Everyone can see what’s going on
They laugh `cause they know they’re untouchable
Not because what I said was wrong
Whatever it may bring
I will live by my own policies
I will sleep with a clear conscience
I will sleep in peace
Maybe it sounds mean
But I really don’t think so
You asked for the truth and I told you
Through their own words
They will be exposed
They’ve got a severe case of
The emperor’s new clothes

Hockey On Monday’s Only

April 21, 2016

“This is a new era…  There are many things you can’t say no more.  I grew up with 30 different names just for black people.  Then you had the Jews, Asians, Hispanics and then the gays.  Gay could have meant actually gay or it could have meant stupid, wimpy or retarded back then.  We can’t use retarded today either.  The day is coming when we won’t be able to call another man a pussy and maybe it’s good and maybe it’s not…  I dunno.  All I do know for sure is that people, some people, want your head on a stick today…  The gays are season ticket holders in this small town.  We could have been stuck in minor league hockey half way up the arctic circle in towns where they only want to see guys get their brains bashed in out in the fucking tundra.  It’s a nice town here.  We’re in Florida for fuck’s sake.  The league wants us to come down hard on you.  Like they want us to get rid of you.  This is the fourth time.  Fines, suspensions and sensitivity training and you’re still calling people names like homos, faggots, queers, gayrods…   What the fuck is wrong with you?”

Byron pulled his long hair back and took a sip of his coffee.  The nerve was still alive in one of his teeth that was cracked in half from a puck to the face from the night before.  He had stitches in his chin and his left eye watered for years involuntarily from a stick to the eye.  Byron was a low-level warrior born in a town near Sudbury, Ontario.  He played two levels below the NHL, earned $32,000.00 a year and lived in a trailer park outside of Fort Myers, Florida.  When Lord Byron as he was known wasn’t playing ice hockey, we was sitting outside his double wide trailer, drinking beer with the neighbors, having lot’s of sex and riding his motorcycle.  Byron didn’t care about being a fourth liner on an NHL team.  In Florida, he was a star in the community.  He did local commercials for Mexican restaurants, car dealerships and bail bonds.  He started a summer camp strictly for obese children that didn’t have the money to go to fat camps.  Byron loved his life.  Slowly, the town to the west, nearest the ocean, became a hot spot for older gay couples from the northern part of the United States as well as Quebec.  There were a lot of French-speaking gay couples too.  Byron grew up thinking that all French speaking Canadians were gay.

So here’s what happened- A team from Macon, Georgia had a player from Byron’s childhood area that was a native Canadian.  Indian, indigenous whatever you prefer.  The player had crossed checked Byron years ago when they were in youth hockey.  The player got Byron in front of the net and crossed checked his kidneys so hard that he wound up pissing blood for a few days.  It was hard for Byron to move but he finished the game and vowed to seek retribution someday.  The day came for Byron.  The player wound up getting picked up in the southern states by an opposing team.  Byron waited until the player made a pass from the boards in front of his own team’s bench.  He hit the guy who had once made his kidneys bleed from the inside and dumped him head first over the boards.  Then he dropped his gloves and waited for the player to get up, get back on the ice and face him.  The guy wouldn’t fight Byron.  It could have been that Byron had blindsided him and he was winded, dazed from landing on his head or knew Byron was a fighter and that he had thirty pounds on him.

“You fucking faggot…  You’d rather have a cock in your mouth or ass than play hockey, wouldn’t you?  Remember giving me a stick to the back in midgets, you fucking asshole.  I almost had to go on dialysis because of you.  Let’s go, you fucking faggot ass pussy motherfucker.  I’m gonna make you piss blood tonight.”

Byron forgot that he was wired for sound.  To try to build interest in ice hockey in a part of the country that only had ice in little glasses pool side,  the team made all players take turns wearing a camera.  It was Byron’s turn to wear the camera.  Families at home on the internet got to hear Byron in real-time.  Byron killed a lot of interest that day.  Local families watched and heard, everything that went on in a local game that day from Byron’s perspective.  Byron had two fights and a hat trick.  One of his goals was the game winner.  Byron forgot about the camera until the press conference when he was asked how he felt about homosexuals.

“How do I feel about what?  Did you say homosexuals?”

“Yes, that is correct.”

“What kind of question is that?”

“As you know, you were outfitted with a camera that recorded everything that went on in the game from the top of your helmet.  Fans got to really be a part of your goals and fights.  You used a homophobic slur while challenging an opposing player to a fight for an incident that occurred at a previous game when you were a youth.  The fans of south Florida will want to know your thoughts.  We want to be the first to carry it.”

“Well …  You got to understand that certain things are said sometimes but that they don’t mean anything bad towards anyone other than the person it is directed at, eh?  It’s part of the job to occasionally fight and before the fight…  Occasionally there are negotiations and discussions.”

The response made some laugh because they loved the gladiator nature of the sport and others it did not.  Some season ticket holders threatened to cancel their season tickets if Byron was not released from the team.  On local talk radio, it was a mixed bag.  Some liked the way Byron talked and others thought it was not good for children to hear graphic profanity and slams towards the gay community.  After it looked like Byron might be released over the fourth offense, Byron took to the airwaves again and offered an olive branch.

“I’m very sorry about the language I used that was broadcast locally.  I forgot that I had the camera on and well…  There is no excuse for what I said.  When I was a boy, my mother would have stuffed soap in my mouth for using profanity.  I wasn’t raised to swear.  I was raised in a town where I don’t think we had any gays.  We just got used to using that term but we didn’t mean nothing by it.  I understand that I could use other words and terms and so if I hurt anyone’s feelings by my language, I am truly sorry.  I don’t want anyone to feel badly about being gay.  It’s like being left-handed…  I’m left handed.  I often wondered why god made me a lefty when the whole world is righty.  Being gay has to be a little like that.  I dunno exactly but I’m sorry if I made anyone feel bad.  I don’t ever wish to make people feel bad…  If the community will accept my apology, I would like to start a youth and adult hockey program here in south Florida just for the gays.  If you’re gay and a man or a woman, or your a man but you feel like you might be a woman actually or whatever.  I don’t know how it all works…  What I’m offering is a chance for all of you who are gay, to come and learn the game.  Learn to skate, learn to play and have fun.  No charge…  It’s on me.”

Byron thought to call his clinics/camp, Lord Byron’s Hockey School for the Gays or South Florida’s Gay Hockey instead it was given the name a simple name- Lord Byron Hockey.  Games and clinics were on Monday nights.  A web site for it was set up.  The first four words after the name was- Hockey on Monday’s only.  Byron was not to blame for this one.  People laughed it off.  Byron’s camp was a success.  Everyone in the area wanted to learn to play hockey.  Men, women, children, blacks, Hispanics, Asians and homosexuals.  Hockey is actually for everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eagle River

February 9, 2016

I was asked by a friend if I wanted to participate in an outdoor tournament in the northern town of Eagle River, Wisconsin.  The trip took over eight hours for us to arrive at the rental home which was being occupied by two teams of 14 players.

If you don’t mind the cold and really poor ice conditions, it is ice hockey unlike what you’re used to indoors.  You dress like a mite at home, park several blocks away and are picked up by locals with open bed trucks.  You jump on the back of the open air transport and marvel at the dense spruce forest around you.  In the clearing is a lake where dozens of snow banked rinks are sectioned off for matches.  You look for a bench to slip your skates on out in the open.  You slip on a jersey with the name of your weekend team.   Female teams tended to name their teams after their female parts and many male teams had various plays on words related to male genitalia.  Others had sponsors or just cute names.  I played for a team called the Elsinore Hosers which was taken from the 1980’s movie called Strange Brew.  The housemates from the other team, took on nicknames from the movie, The Big Lebowski- The Jesus, Donny, Walter, The Dude and so on.

You get on the ice and have a net that is three feet wide and about a foot high.  No slapshots, no high passes, no checking or other infractions.  Four players where one sort of has to play goalie and then you have variations of a triangle formation.  Firing the puck often is key.  Our team adapted to the conditions of the ice and weather and won our first two games.  We then went on to lose our next two which were good, close scoring games.  What do you do when you’re not playing?  Walk around in half your gear making conversation with people from all over the country while drinking donated beer from Labatt’s.  If you haven’t had enough hockey, there is a local team with an antique barn of a rink that holds about 2,000.  We watched Eagle River play Fond du Lac.  Some sloppy play, some solid play, some fights and some idiocy in the crowd.  Some tool from Ohio who played in drag the entire weekend put on a show at the minor league game.  This over served player, hung from the scorer’s booth which was some twenty feet in the air.  After swinging back and forth for a minute, his fingers gave way and landed back first onto a patron.  There was an over abundance of men who needed chaperones- moms or wives.  Maybe they were once frat boys and maybe they never experienced that sort of fraternal bonding upon gaining adulthood.  Cheap beer and fraternizing with fellow lovers of the sport of ice hockey on the eve of the Super Bowl is what you would have found in Eagle River last weekend.  If you love the sport, respect the sport and enjoy the sport more than most things in life, a pond hockey tournament should be Mecca for those who hold ice hockey in high regard.

The photo was taken at sunset Saturday night after two games in the tournament.  We went to our own backyard behind our rental home and played amongst ourselves.  Hosers against The Puck Abides until the sun set over the forest.  It was worth the time and effort for me.

eagle river

The Spryzsaks… The Unique Hockey Family

September 30, 2015

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.