Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hockey Pals

This is a 450 word fictional hors d'oeuvre, if you will.  It's a slapshot attempt to paint a picture of a bygone era in sports, and a treat for the "sports fan" inside each of us.

Hockey Pals
Short Fictional Story by Greg Larson

I’ve just kidnapped my buddy.  He doesn’t know what I’m doing yet, but I’ve decided it is necessary to extract him from his hockey fixation.  I’m driving him to my secluded cabin in Maine, and I hope to give him some privacy and time to rest.  It’s now dark outside and he’s comfortably resting beneath a blanket in the backseat of the car.  He’s been much too close to professional hockey . . .and it’s time for him to have a change in perspective.

The drive through the woods has given me time to reflect on our relationship.  I’ve had many long talks with him about the sport, reminiscing late into the night.  He has been a mentor to me, and has known many of the great players like Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull, Phil Esposito, and others with first names such as Guy and Jacques.  He has been on a first name basis with many of hockey’s greatest men and has been hugged by most of them.  But his fixation with the game is not good for his health.  He’s even talked about seeing apparitions of some of the hall of fame players, and says he’s had conversations with them.  The stories he could tell!  He’s seen it all.

We both wish that the ‘good ole days’ could return to hockey, when players were recruited from the blue collar ranks, from coal mines and steel mills, from tough neighborhoods and bleak rural areas.  We long for the pure joy of the sport; to see the sweat on the players and the toothless smiles on their scarred faces when their team scored the winning goal.

We remember some of the old arenas like the Montreal Forum, the Checkerdome in St. Louis, and the old Boston Garden.  I can smell the stale beer on the concourses and see the cigar smoke haze hanging below the rafters.  My blood gets to pumping when I remember the shots through the crease for a winning score, and I could feel the vibration of those old arenas when the fans erupted.  Those nights were magic!

The new arenas are too slick, too sterile, and too expensive.  It’s difficult to have a spontaneous night out with the boys anymore.

My buddy has been through too much.  He’s attended too many hockey celebrations, and he's been filled to the brim with booze, out all night, tattooed, worn out and banged up.  I can’t imagine what he’s spent on travel and lodging.  He needs a change of scenery.

Yeah, my buddy needs to give it a rest.  I'm talking about my buddy Stan, that is . . .the Stanley Cup.  He barely fits in the back seat of my Crown Vic.

2002 Reuters file photo

Postscript:  In researching the internet for this fictional story, I discovered that the Stanley Cup has a rigorous schedule between hockey seasons, due to the fact that each member of the championship team is allowed to have possession of the cup for a few days.  The cup is taken to parties, bars, and even to priests, for fun, photo-ops, and blessings.  In one photo, a player's daughter had filled the cup with milk and Froot Loops cereal!

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