Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sitting on a porch in Canada...a long time from now

"Grandpa! Grandpa!! Tell us the story of 'Old Blue,' again!!"

Ah, you kids…haven’t your heard that story enough?

“We love that story, Grandpa!”

Well, ok. It was back in the year of ought-nine, back when folks actually had to hold these gizmos to talk to folks, not like those implant-phones with ultra-def sound you kids have today. I was just a young guy having fun and playing for the Caps down in Washington. We were in Ottawa, ‘bout the time the folks in the States were getting a new President.

Anyway, we’d just lost a game to the Senators. I had a tough game, musta had six or seven shots…couldn’t buy a goal, and we lost by one. We weren’t feeling too happy, and we had to go to Boston. And they were really good. They had this defenseman – Zdeno Chara – bigger’n that tree over there…


Oh yeah, and we’re figurin’, ‘this is gonna be a tough one in their rink. But I got a goal right off the bat, and we thought we might get outta there with a win. But those Bruins, they were a tough bunch o’ SOB’s, and they beat us in overtime.

But then we went back home to Washington…

“I thought this was home, Grandpa?”

Well, it is, but back then, I lived in Washington. Nice city, but not as nice as this. Anyway, the Detroit Red Wings came to town.

“The Red Wings? We were just watching them on the holovision. I think Chris Chelios had the winning goal.”

He-he-he…yeah, he’s still pretty amazing, isn’t he? But he didn’t play the time we played ‘em. Probably just as well. But we had a good game that day, and I had another goal. We won that one. Then, Ottawa came to visit us, and we beat them, too. And I had another goal. And all the while, I’m thinking, I’ve had this stick for three games, haven’t put a chip in it, not a smudge, nothing…an old black and blue Easton Stealth I taped up special. I said, “you ‘n’ me, Blue, we’re gonna have some fun.”

So then, I got a goal against the Devils and another one against the Kings. Then, I got two against the Florida Panthers…

“Don’t they play in Rio de Janeiro, now, Grandpa?”

Yeah, they do. I think they made the move not long after Alex Ovechkin became commissioner of the league. Anyway, I had those two goals against Florida, and Ol’ Blue is still going strong. It was like that bat in that old baseball movie. What was that bat called?


That’s it…So then we go to New York to play the Rangers.

“The team that buys all the free agents.”

That’s the one…and Ol’ Blue doesn’t let me down. We got a goal together in the second period to take the lead. Then, when the Rangers went out in front, I got another one just before the second period ended. We lost that one in one of those infernal shootouts.


Yeah, that eight-ways from stupid thing Bettman dreamt up where guys go back and forth with penalty shots to decide a winner…

“Wasn’t Bettman the one who was ‘Elmo the Clown’ on a TV show in Wisconsin? We see those reruns after school. They’re stupid.”

It was Ohio, I think. That’s where Toledo is, isn’t it? And yes, they’re stupid. Anyway, me an’ Ol’ Blue…we had those two goals in New York, and wouldn’t you know it? We tied some sort of record – consecutive games with a goal. So then, we got to go to Florida with our dads.

“You mean Great-Grandpa?”

Yup. He and a bunch of other dads came with us down to Florida so they could watch us play for a couple of games. And we had a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“Don’t you mean the Yokohama Lightning?”

Well, they played in Tampa back then. Anyway, we’re playing the Lightning, and I’m really nervous.

“You, Grandpa?”

Sure. I could set a record, my dad is in the stands. I was shakin’ like those flaps o’ skin under your Grandma’s arms.


Shh…don’t tell her I said that. I was nervous, but once I jumped over the boards with Ol’ Blue in my hands, I settled down pretty quick. We got three goals in the first period. Let’s see…Alexander Semin got one. And then Alex got one. And then Tom Poti got…no, it was Shaone Morrisonn. That’s right. Ol’ Shaone didn’t get a lot of ‘em, but you remembered ‘em. It was one o’ those seeing eye things that just snuck around everybody and past the goalie.

But I didn’t have any goals, and I’m thinkin’ maybe tonight’s just not the night. But then they got a penalty, and I jumped out to skate on the power play. Not long into it, Semin’s in the corner doing his thing, and he slides the puck over to me coming down the middle. I don’t waste a second – I just shoot. But my ol’ buddy Matt Pettinger – he used to play with us on the Caps – he goes down to block the shot. And the puck pops right up over him. I’m right there, waiting for the puck to come down… waiting, waiting, waiting… Finally the thing comes down, and I just shoot it. Somehow, it snuck past a defenseman and under the goalie. I had that record… well, we did. Me an’ Ol’ Blue. And the guys came over and congratulated me. Alex jumped into me – almost knocked me into July. He was always doing that. But then the coach told the boys on the bench to come out and share with us. You know? They had to get special permission to do that. It was really nice.

“And Great Grandpa was there?”

Yeah, he was up in the stands with the other dads, and they were all congratulating him. It was all I could do to keep from havin’ a cry there, right on the ice.



“Whatever happened to Ol’ Blue?”

Well, I’ll tell ya. When guys like me set a record like that – it could be hockey, or baseball, or ultimate holovision games – there is usually some hall of fame that comes around and wants the puck or the ball or the stick. Sure enough, I got asked to give the stick I scored all those goals with – Ol’ Blue – to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“And did you?”

Well, I'll tell ya...I didn’t want to, because, well… first of all, I thought there might be a few more adventures and goals left for Ol’ Blue an’ me. And, the stick was pretty special. I was kinda hopin’ to keep it. But after a day or two, we decided to send a stick up to the Hall of Fame.

“Wait…Grandpa? You said, ‘a stick.’”

Yes, I did.

“Do you mean that stick you use to play with us is…”

Yup. Me an’ Ol’ Blue. I never could see clear to part ways with it. And don’t ever plan to…

"We like that story, Grandpa…”

I do, too, kids.


Anonymous said...

You've outdone yourself this time. Brilliant.

Anonymous said...

*SOB* *SOB* "There goes Mike Green, the best there ever was."