I spend a lot of time digging into my memories. I look at pictures of me as a boy – fishing on the dock, beside the Christmas Tree, with our dog Celeste – trying to access that momentous time. I have also tried to searched out childhood things like Checkerboard Ice Cream and Pantry cookies, both of which I cherished in those days and both of which have vanished.
It seems somehow possible that if I could just taste them again, I would rediscover a key note to my uncluttered mind, like the magic of holding the tin or the feeling of my bare legs against the kitchen linoleum. But I have not been able to find either.
I collected these stickers from the Loblaws grocery store, furiously opening strip after strip to fill the booklet, trading for missing stamps, finding out who had found the un-find-able ones. There were dozens of Larry Carriere and Walt McKechnie and so few of Guy Lambert and Don Awry. It was impossible to find those.
And then Doug Crosby, a rich and somewhat simple boy in my class, bought the completed book from Edward Etchells for $50. The class bully Andy McAlpine mocked him. “You idiot! That’s not how it’s done!”
I realize that the whole thing was about the experience of collecting things, but why not do it Doug Crosby’s way? Why go through all of the hassle of bartering for the rare stickers when you could just buy the whole thing in one shot? As much as Doug seemed to have missed the point, Andy totally misses it. It’s not about scamming the system but learning from the experiences of the thing, be that finding Don Awry or eating Checkerboard Ice Cream.
The second time that The Fear struck was on my birthday. I think my eleventh. My father gave me two tickets to see the Toronto Maple Leafs. A Leaf hockey game for me then was the ultimate experience. I took a friend as my father didn’t really like hockey and thought that I might be happier on my own. The seats were great – center-ice reds – and we were up on the visiting team early. And then it hit me again. It wasn’t as strong as the first time. I seemed almost to have control over it. I could rationalize it.
Why was I sitting here watching this nonsense? Who gave a damn who scored what and when? The whole thing was a farce designed to brainwash and control. Nobody cared about winning. It was the popcorn, furs and dinners, the money, being part of the scenery that people cared about. The blue leaf could just as well be a red wing. I especially hated the silence between play, the organ occasionally filling that with carnival tunes. Eventually, it passed, but the evening had been depressing. We had won, but I didn’t give a damn. I just wanted to go home and get into bed.
Instead of the damned blaring horn, spotlights and screaming, the Toronto Maple Leafs should focus on the import of the moment. A single note on a gong followed by the crowd rising in silence, a bow between teams and audience, after which they would resume play. That’s what makes a champion.
It was to be magic, the stuff of dreams: a pair of seats ten rows behind the Capitals’ net for Game Seven, perfect for that overtime goal by Matthews, Marner or Nylander. And then not…and I was sent this damnable message: “Thanks for being a fan”? Fuck you. They’re my seats! Mine. I owned them on this night, just like the Leafs owned…ugh.
Washington Capital goalie Braden Holtby had this to say after his Game One overtime win against the Toronto Maple Leafs: The first period, if it’s bad, we know we can outplay them the rest of the game. However in Game Two, Mr. Holtby was caught looking the wrong way. As he later realized on the replay.
I’ve never liked Bobby Nystrom. Brash and conceited, he’s the New York Islander I remembered for almost taking out Borje Salming’s eye in 1978. And so it was with a mix of revulsion and childish glee that I received his figurine at Barclay’s Center on Bobby Nystrom Night. I knew I would destroy it as soon as I had it. But what started out as a joke – it was Lorne Henning and not Nystrom who was responsible for Salming’s injury – turned into a glimpse of a personal abyss, in the creation of seedy ISIS-ish video.In my mind, it was fine and funny, something I had to do, but as an act it wasn’t. It was awful really, just wrecking something for a reason that didn’t exist. Not that I’m sad it’s gone.
Phil Kessel started the summer by bringing the Stanley Cup to Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. He ended it with a biting tweet on being left off the USA team, which lost all of their games at the World Cup of Hockey. Coach Tortorella – and some players – took offense. They said that Kessel shouldn’t express an opinion, no matter how relevant, because it had an edge. They have a problem with Kessel simply because he’s his own person, because he says what he thinks. Which says a lot more about them.