na foine ting

Monday, November 15, 2004
I got my first real penalty last night.

#7 and I have been warming up to it for a while. A little jostle here, a little elbow there, slightly more pressure than is warranted fighting for the puck along the boards.

I play left wing and he plays right D, so it happens fairly frequently that we bang up against each other.

Now, I've had penalties before of course but it's been too many men on the ice or a tripping I didn't intend, or a high stick that wasn't aiming for someone, just thoughtless flailing.

Last night I found myself behind the net with him, and a push turned into a cross check turned into a cross check back turned into a shove turned into another shove turned into me on my ass hooking his feet out from under him with my stick.

And not really satisfied, a little too close to the ref for safety's sake continuing to yap at him, frustrated at his turned back. Stupid shit. There's more where that came from, asshole. Want to go? Want to go?

Then McGowan grabs my jersey and sets me on my ass.

"Get in the box."

In the box, roughing penalty.

Caught between being delighted and chagrined.

Only to hear the ref say to Brian how I'd been about to charge #7 and how he didn't grab me at all, that the only reason I went down was I was a poor skater and couldn't keep my feet.


It's isolating and inclusive at the same time.

I wonder if it feels like this to guys. All the time.

Thursdays no one asks me things like "are you okay" anymore. Last week I wiped out spectacularly, caught my edge and just sailed into the air and bit it hard, and no one offered me a hand up. Some laughter and ribbing, a glove pounded on my helmet as I limped back into line.

It's started to feel like firefighting again in some ways.

Like them, also not like them. Trying to push the boundary of something that by physical definition I'm not.

Only this time, maybe they're all starting to believe it.

Maybe I'm starting to believe it.

That I measure up, that I can operate at that set of standards.

It's new.

And in some ways frightening.


For there being no hockey season, I'm managing to spend a lot of time at the Tank. A game played there last weekend, the Barons game on Tuesday with Gavin and I up in the cheap seats hollering and hooting. Then the free skate for season ticketholders. Then Brian's game there Sunday morning.

Strange to be there for all these other reasons. Not the all important main. But it's still hockey, still good.

The game versus the Hawks was a travesty, mostly because really they're just that much better than we are. I felt like my own game was on, sharp, and every once and a while I'd look up and think 'fuck, here we are,' and none of it would matter. Playing at the Tank. Under the jumbotron. If you squint hard you can briefly pretend the seats are all filled and you're pulling down a paycheck in the seven figures. Hell, if the rooks can pretend, so can I.

I tuned out the discontent in the locker room. Blaming each other, blaming lack of practice, grousing. I'd had a great time. 11-1 wasn't going to start to touch that much fun.

And yeah, I admit I teared up watching the players skate out at the Barons game. Cried a bit at the lack of anything that looked like reasonable offense, but it was the same thing in the end. Hockey's good. Good to see it, good to play, and in the end I really couldn't pretend. Even Gavin agreed it was a good time.

The free skate just more time on Tank ice, checking out the new lines, distances where on Saturday I hadn't even noticed the difference.

Skating around and around and I kept thinking to myself how I really ought to go over and say hello and introduce myself to Coach Hunter. How great he was with everyone--especially the kids--and how after all that time watching him coach at practices that at least not saying hello was just kind of creepy.

Last night in the locker room Brian gave me shit for chickening out and not talking to him. "You're right there and you didn't even go up to him. How many chances are you going to get to be on the same ice as him?" Shaking his head.

Yeah, I know. I'll sit in a little piece of folded up tinfoil and let eight feet of solid fire rage over me in a searing whoosh of consumed wildland, but I won't go talk to Hunter. I know. Shut up.

I stayed out there for a long time, though. Ice is always good.


What gets me is the dichotomy.

After the game #7 and I shook hands and I'm pretty sure neither of us took what happened at all personally. At Luke's suggestion long ago I learned how to leave what happens on the ice, on the ice.

McGowan on the other hand looked away when I skated up, barely let our hands connect.

Either I'm here enough, tough enough to get into it with a guy and take a penalty... or I'm not.

I don't think you can have it both ways.


Comments: Post a Comment

Powered by Blogger