Saturday, February 24, 2007

Warroad's Olympians

One of my friends has a hockey blog that is pretty much devoted to hockey in the Washington, DC area but this past week he posted a nice tribute to the “Miracle” team of the 1980 Olympics. You might want to check it out at

I remember watching that team as they won games and the Gold Medal in Men’s Hockey for the 1980 Winter Olympics played at Lake Placid, NY. This past week on February 22nd (Washington’s birthday) was the 27th anniversary. It was really a good time and I wish I could have been there to have totally experienced it live. This was a team of amateur hockey players that put their hearts and souls into playing beyond their expected capabilities for Herb Brooks and the United States. Sure, a movie was made about this with Kurt Russell playing coach Brooks and a wonderful bunch of guys acting as the team. That movie, though, could never equal the real excitement of that season. The one thing that amazed me the most about the teams’ play was that they avoided many checks by jumping up in the air as the hit was coming and thereby avoided much of the physical impact. The intensity of their play and their camaraderie might never be seen again in a USA team. We see this more often now in the teams that participate in the Olympics from much smaller countries where they’re tremendously bound with national pride.

Myself, never having been good enough for Olympic play, I still feel free to air some of my opinions. I miss the Olympics where the players are still “amateurs”. When you throw together a team composed of players from various NHL teams and give them a week or so to skate together, they’re never going to gel, not even in time for the last game of the series. The true Olympic team is a team that plays maybe fifty to one hundred games together. It’s a team that maybe starts out with forty or fifty guys competing together and against each other for the top spots to be carried on into the Olympic play. Some will make it and some will get cut. Some will get called back up because of injuries or what have ya – but it becomes a team that’s tight!

So that’s what the 1980 USA Olympic Hockey Team was. A group of amateurs that stuck together through all that shit, got tight and became champions – became heroes! In my book those boys were walking with wood. You know I’ve got a nice poster of those boys that I bring to work during the Winter Games as an object of inspiration. It’s big, about four and half feet wide by three feet tall and has everybody jumping on each other to the left of Jim Craig’s net. My sister won it at a 7-11 and gave it to me. Bless her heart. After 911 I put a little sticker in the left hand corner that says “UNITED WE STAND”. Ain’t that the truth, ehh?

I think about thirteen of those Olympians went on and became NHL pro’s. That’s the right way to do it, ehh. Not the other way by becoming a pro and then an Olympian. Sheeeeeet no!

One of those guys was Dave Christian. He signed on as a Winnipeg Jet and for about three years he averaged almost a point a game. His best season was 1985-1986 where he scored forty-one goals. All tolled he played in 1009 regular season games; scoring 340 goals and 443 assists. He also had over one hundred post season games with thirty-two goals and twenty-five assists. Not bad for a former Olympian, ehh?

Dave came from a hell of a hockey family. His uncle Roger played on the 1960 Olympic team that won gold also. That was in Squaw Valley. Dave’s dad, Bill, played on that same Gold Medal team in 1960 and then again on the team in 1964. Combined, I think the two brothers had six or seven points while playing in the 1960 series. Herb Brooks was the last player that got cut from that team just a couple of weeks before the Olympics started.

The brothers, Bill and Roger, formed a hockey stick company in 1964 – Christian Brothers. “Hockey sticks made by real hockey players” was the marketing slogan that one of their friends used to inspire their decision to start the business. They made sticks, in the old days, from wood. Wooden sticks, yup – I’ve owned a few! The company was sold a few years back and I’ve kinda lost touch with what they’re doing with the original company.

But shit, Dave, his dad and his uncle were from Warroad, Minnesota. Right on the Lake of the Woods. In the lower forty-eight, you can’t get much further north. I mean this is North Woods country folks. Big town these days with a population of about 1,700 folks. Ya want a brew you go to the Breakers Bar on Lake Street or the lounge at the Patch Hotel. If you’re in town for a road trip/away game at the Gardens Arena then ya can stay at the Patch or the Super 8. Good folks here – walking with wood!

Ya can always snag something to eat from the Main Street Bar and Grill or the Lakeview Restaurant. If you’re in town during the off season for fishing and boating then ya can get a sundae at the Dairy Queen. Not bad, not bad at all.

Their still kickin out some good hockey here. The boys high school varsity team this season went 16 – 8 – 1. And the girls team went 20 – 4 – 0. Pretty damn good if ya ask me. Back in 2005 the boys won the Minnesota State Class A Championship. That’s talking wood my friends!

If ya check into Warroad anytime soon ya still might want to get yourself some traditional wooden hockey sticks. will give ya the “Tradition” and build ya “Full Length Wood Custom Hockey Sticks”. What more do ya want? So maybe this company is what became of the original Christian Brothers stick company, I don’t know.

But if ya are up in the North Woods near Warroad be sure to stop in and tell the folks that they’ve got a mighty fine town and that Jasper Wheats say’s “Howdy you guys, ya got me walking with wood again!”

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Road Trip with T-Ball

One thing that I’ve always found pretty tight about sports is all of the nicknames. Who gives a rats-ass where they came from? I’d have to say that the nicknames of most pro athletes were created by the fans or sportscasters. I mean look at a few on my “short list” here:

Boom Boom – Bernie Geoffrian – what’s that tell you?

The Great One – Wayne Gretzky – certainly was – not so sure now.

Red Light – Andre Racicot – ooooh, sunburn city.

The Turk – Derek Sanderson – what the ……..?

The Golden Jet – Bobby Hull – blondie, ehh?

The Golden Brett – Brett Hull – like father, like son – you betcha.

The Pocket Rocket – HenriRichard – couldn’t be Rocket Richard could he?

The Russian Rocket – Pavel Bure – another “rocket” - ok.

Mr. Hockey – Gordy Howe – now that’s sayin sompun, ehh?

Chopper – Al MacGuinnis – should have been Radar with that slapshot.

In some of the other sports ya got Catfish Hunter, the Babe, William The Refrigerator Perry and on and on and on. Ehh – what’s it all mean? Shit I don’t really know.

And then you’ve got nicknames that are some sort of abbreviation or modification of the player’s name. These I can understand a bit better. They sound like they mighta come from the guys on the bench or back in the locker room. Like what’s wrong with Grets for Gretzky? Here’s a few of them that I can think of:

Ziggy – Zigmund Palffy – great with the Kings.

O – Gerry Odrowski – I coached his boys.

The Flower – Guy Lefleur – yo Habs!

Cheesie – Gerry Cheevers – shit I thought he was in a museum.

Rogie – Rogatien Vachon – Habs and Kings goalie, but with a nickname that you’d give a dog.

Ollie the Goalie – Olaf Kolzig – hey in the Northwoods if we call ya Ollie its cuz your last name is Olson, ehh?

Beezer – John Vanbiesbruck – a nickname every want-a-be goalie wanted.

Cujo – Curtis Joseph – sounds like a damn mutt’s name again.

So being from the Northwoods and all maybe I don’t know shit about nicknames, ehh? I mean, I’ve had a few over the years, like Bobby-O (I’ll never figure out where they came up with that) and the Team Bleeder (the season I got stitched up a few too many times). A lot guys just call me by my last name, Wheats – shit it’s what’s on the back of my jersey dabnabit. My brothers generally go by Bronzy and Jingles. Bronzy’s just a jazzed up version of Brian and I guess that even a rock band or media head could come up with that. But Jingles is a definite bench derived name for Jimmy. During his years in juniors, Jingles would get sent out on the ice (pretty….damn…..often…..folks) to take guys out the game, but when he was a midget he really knocked the socks outta some jackoff. When he came back to the bench, I believe it was the back up goalie that said “You really shook the jingles out of that guy”. And it stuck.

So some guys get named by their team mates and some get nicknamed by the fans or media muthas.

Well T-Ball got nicknamed by his buds. I ain’t real sure whether it was his on ice antics or bar room charisma that led to his naming – but it fit. His real name was Tim (I won’t use his last name here ‘case he wants to sue me for some shit or other) so the “T” was for that. And he lived hockey and life like it was just a non-stop speed ball (Not to say that he didn’t have to get rushed to the hospital few times due to extracurricular activities).

He was from Cape Breton Island (yo - Canadian Maritimes if that ain’t Northwoods, ehh?) and had somebody sponsor him so he could work down in the lower forty-eight. He worked as a plumber – hard worker – dirty work. Got his shirt caught in the pipe threading machine once. Spun him around about three times before some jerkoff figured he could stop it by un-plugging the machine. It really busted up T-Ball’s wrist and he missed more then a season. Sucks – not being able to play!

T-Ball wasn’t always an Outlaw. I think when I first met him he played for the Rangers in our league. Really tough guy to play D against. He’s about 6’-2”; I’d guess and maybe 210 – 220 pounds of solid muscle. All speed and good puck control – balls out sort of business and yappin at ya all the time. The league got all changed around and eventually fell apart which was when we joined up with a semi-pro league and T-Ball joined us.

He was good acquisition and I was coachin the boys by then. He was loud but daggone stimulatin if ya know what I mean. The guys needed a charge in their shorts and T-ball could bring it.

He could be damn down to earth though too. If he’d a been my son he would a made me proud. Give ya an example here. I had season seats to the Kings back then and they made the Stanley Cup finals against Montreal that year. T-Ball went to one of the games with me at Los Angeles’ Fabulous Forum (before Staples Center). I forget which game it was and I forget the score and the whole shebang except for this (Could it have been the beer?):

T-Ball jumps up out of his seat and says he’s got to get out to the lobby. I figure he’s got to take a leak cuz we’d really been chuggin em. But it was game on and you gotta hold it during play. Didn’t make any sense to me. I think the Kings scored while he was gone cuz it got really, I mean really loud. After a bit T-Ball comes running back up the stairs taking two or so at a time. He was beamin if ya know what I mean – thought maybe he’d just done a toot or two. But he yells at me “I just called my Dad back in Montreal on one of the pay phones!”. Well I thought his folks were back on CBI but he says, no his dad’s on a job in Montreal. He says “Wheats, I said to my dad to listen to this, I’m at the Forum for the Stanley Cup Finals. Then I took the phone away from my ear and held it out so he could hear the crowd. Shit, I get back on the phone with him and he say’s back to me “Yeah, wrong Forum, ehh?” Ain’t that something – smartass Pop.”

Yeah, he was ok.

On road trips he ruled.

Road trips are good hockey. Ya win some and ya lose some, but if ya got enough guys to ice a team its hockey at its best. Ya got rubber legs from the travel and ya got butterflies to counter that by pumpin ya full of adrenalin.

Secondly, road trips are partying. Folks, I’m telling ya, there ain’t no better partying then that of road trips. First thing that you do is designate whose hotel room gets the beer. That done then ya fill their tub with beers and ice. This shit is for casual thirst quenchin, gut bustin after last call and breakfast of course. Serious drinkin will be done at the bar after the game.

So the third thing is to scope out the neighborhood for a decent bar or two. You couldn’t always trust the local team’s recommendations and sometimes game results dictated that you really didn’t need to win in the bar too (though damn if we couldn’t if we had too).

On this particular road trip that I’m thinking of we were all set up at the hotel and had gone on to the rink to suit up. T-Ball dumps his gear out on the floor in front of himself. Kicks it around a bit and grabs a t-shirt and sniffs it then throws it in the trash. Grabs another one, sniffs it and throws it in the face of one our wingers. Kicks his gear some more and reaches out and grabs another t-shirt. He sniffs this one too and says “Aw, fuck they all smell like shit – what’s the dif? Probably’ll give me a little maneuvering room out there.” I’m telling ya that his gear just reeked.

Game on. Game over. Shower up and time to partaaaaaaaaaa!

T-Ball comes up to me before we head to the bar and says he’s got to run back to the hotel cuz he left his wallet there. Wanted to know if I could give him a ride. I thought about it for a sec – thinkin – he’s the chick magnet, I’ll look good walkin into the bar with him. So I tell him, “Yeah, lets scoot.”

We get back to his room and he snags his wallet off the top of the chest of drawers. He gives it a quick peek for cash and says to me “Wheats, ya need some protection? Grab a couple of those.” I look over at the chest and see that he’s got like thirty condoms of maybe five different varieties spread out on top. Holy shit, is he ready for the game later tonight, or what?

Good hockey! Good partying! Good night!

That was T-ball. That was road trips. That was walking with wood.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Global Warming II

He don’t know shit about chilly!

I’d been down to the local greasy spoon earlier this week and shot the shit with Big Joe. He’s owns the place and is fry cook, dishwasher and waiter all in one big fat happy package. His hashbrowns and bacon are always crisp, though I’ve gotten some bacon once in a while that tastes a might rancid. I’ll eat it anyway like that – I mean what the fuck it goes down ok and helps unclog the plumbing pretty damn quick. Well crappola folks – when someone else is fixin the meal and entertainin ya besides – it’s sure a damn site better then re-heatin a batch of ludefisk back at the shack.

Big Joe had been a hell of a defenseman in the day. A lotta guys lost there front teeth from his cross checks and wreslin that resulted from their attempts a standin around in the slot. He wasn’t too shifty being so big and all, and never had much of a slap shot. Actually I don’t think he even tried to take a slapshot after he was about sixteen or so. Seems as though one of our coaches really made fun of him for falling down after a shot so he never took one again. But he had this sweeping wrist shot that more times then not floated high and guys would get out the way when they knew he was going to release it. I saw him take one once that just floated right up over the glass. He just was wild that way. Yup but that was back in the day.

Now Big Joe just ladles the grease and chats ya real good. To hang around his place is just a damn good way to spend a morning while you’re waitin for your truck’s engine to warm up. It’s a pretty good place to just get a cup a joe too.

Well like I said I was over ta his place earlier this week and we were not talkin about anything too damn important until he brought up some local gossip. He leans across the counter like he’s got some dangone secret to tell me. He spits a little at me cuz he’s missin his upper two and says “Jasper, that hippy-ass Caliboy, Bobby, ‘sbeen saying that he thinks this is the coldest winter on record.”

Now I’m not sure from the tone of his voice if he’s thinking that this is authorative or what. But I take it as arguin ma-tear-e-l if ya know what I mean.

“Big Joe,” I say, “what the fuck does that damn jack-ass know? You and me, we’ve been livin in the North Woods all our damn lives! He don’t know shit about chilly. Ehh?”

Big Joe pours me some more coffee and says, “Yup. He’s a little soft. He don’t know shit about chilly like you and me do. Right, Jasper?”

I hear some crinkling noise and see that Big Joe is scrounging through the pile of papers over ta the end of the counter. He picks a section up and says “Look this just came earlier,” as he sets it down beside my cup.

It’s a two day old copy of the Star/Tribune (takes a couple of days for things to get to us here in the North Woods) and has a cover story of about 100 inches of snow dumpin up-state New York. Ya know, shit, doesn’t Buffalo get about 200 inches a year on average

or somethin? What’s the big deal? Some blooie lake effects climatology shit causes that stuff.

“Yeah, so what, ehh? We been colder before this shit. Remember St. Patty’s day in ’67 when the whole fuckin area got snowed in and we were cut off for a week and half. Shit that was a storm and chilly with blizzard conditions for five days straight and no plows or nothin being able to get ta us up here. Ehh? Ya Remember that don’t ya Big Joe?”

“Wheats, I’m telling ya, I just don’t know. I remember that pretty damn well. Yup. That was a storm. I had to crap in a coffee can for a couple a days before I could get the back door open and make a path to the crapper. But I’m wonderin. Remember what ya said earlier about that global warming bullshit and the earth shiftin on its poles? What if we’re going into, ehh, some fuckin ice age or somethin? What if Bobby, ain’t as blooie as we think he is? Maybe you and him is on the same wavelength? Ehh?”

“Oh – Fuck that shit, Big Joe. Ya know the North Woods always gets cold, ehh? I mean, shit, sure we don’t get as cold as Nunavut or Siberia usually, but we get damn cold. I’m tellin ya Bobby just don’t know shit. After the truck gets warmed up, I’m goin to head back to the shack, nose around with my bud’s on the internet and see what they say. I mean, Big Joe, when I’m headin out ta skate, and I’m walking with wood, it just don’t seem ta be so bad.”

“Wheats, ya get smart on this shit and let me know later, ehh?”

Well we moved on to some other less important talk and my truck finally got warmed up; so I headed on back home and dogged the internet for a bit.

Here’s the scoop. Ya folks out there reading this shit let me know what ya think. Ehh?

Jamie of Duluth says: high of -3 today..whoop whoop...few nights ago was -45 with the wind chill but about -22 normal...eeek!!

Ti the Unperfect from Pennsylvania says: Fuckin ball freezing cold! hahah- unreal,

crisp,cold air like 7 at night 25 during they day- wind chill is 0!

Yeah and I told her: Yah I know how cold that is. Something's crawling up to my throat trying to stay warm and it ain't my hands.

Double-0 of Lewiston, Maine says : LAst few days have been a little cold. Highs of about nine degrees and lows below zero, then you add in the wind. It is suppose to be six below tonight! We won't be skating outside this week. I have one friend though who always has a nice fire going alongside his rink. Maybe we might be able to skate there, its just the damn wind.

My response to that shit: Ok - maybe you can describe that with a little less nostalgia and a little more Mainiac humor!

And he rewrote: Well I tell ya what anyhow, it's wicken friggin fridgid up in these goddamm parts, yes sa, god damn ma. Both my knee caps have been a wobblin and crackin off one another like a god damn loose barn board. BEen so cold can't even turn over the friggin skidda, fucken A, Jasper!

Boston Clover of Minneapolis says: its really cold but i went skiing at afton alps today so i think i got frost nip

And I respond to his crappola: Come-on give me something a little crazier. How cold was it????????????? Where'd ya get that frost nip - and don't just say your nose unless it came with a snotsickel.

And Boston Clover responded back: fine its like -17 degrees with wind chill and my cheeks and my nose and no no snotsickle

The strangest little tidbit I picked up though came from a phone call ta one of my business associates in Blackhawk territory. He told me that he had gone outside the other day while it was quite crispy and took one of those deep breaths through the nose that would normally create a tingle in each nostril as your snot froze. Instead he said that his left nostril sucked in and froze shut for about ten seconds. Now ain’t that somethin, ehh?!?!

Well folks, its just Jasper Wheats here, movin on again for bit. Remember: Skate hard, skate often, and continue walking with wood.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Balls Out

First of all, if you’re a lady and find this blog entry offensive or sexist, then I would like to apologize for your sensitivity. I cannot apologize for my opinions about the differences in our sexes. Man and woman, we are each a distinct sex as the way God intended it. And I am always thankful for the distinction and the joy that the differences make. For I am heterosexual as opposed to what any of the other tendencies might be being called these days. (Brings back memories of the Dodge Caliber commercial “Silly Little Fairy”. The flying redhead in the green fairy costume is HOT! But the limp wristed dog walker is schnot.)

Being a fictional character, I, Jasper Wheats, firmly believe that the North Woods makes a man a man. Why shit, I go to play hockey and I walk with wood. What more can I say?

Yo! Dudes and dudettes I can say a lot.

This morning as I read through my local little paper (Fairfield’s Daily Republic) I come across a sports article from one of the great North Woods states, Maine. Now the local rag doesn’t usually have much ink being spent on hockey and today was no exception. The article was in reference to one of the other lesser winter sports called basketball. It’s not really a winter sport but the media giants that rule TV decided that they needed to put a sport on the screen between football season and baseball season where the viewing audience could see the instrument used for scoring. Fucking blind son-of-a -bitches. You know, if you play our sport and the camera angle is from high enough up to see what’s really going on, then you don’t need to see the puck to know where it is. ‘Nof said about that shit ESPN and your dis’n of our great sport. Come on you other networks – pick up the slack (thank you Versus and your East Coast coverage of games that are over before I get home from work).

Basketball and manhood – that’s what the article was about. Seems as though during half-time of a basketball game for Leavitt Area High School the coach asked his players to do something that later got him fired. He apparently asked them to check out their package with the insinuation that the Big Boys were going to win the game that night. The strategy worked because they went on to win the game. Probably the unfortunate part of this motivational move was that he asked the guys to reach into their shorts to check out the tools. Sad – that doesn’t sound so bad when you look at gangsta wanna-be’s grabbing their units as their walking down the middle of a public street - or are they just trying to keep their pants from falling off. Crap even highly paid popular music types grab their sexy parts when performing now days.

Did this coach deserve to be fired for this? SHIT NO!

Damn it – it was in the locker room. There’s some sanctity here. It’s like lawyer/client privilege what goes on in the locker room between a coach and his players. Hell it doesn’t even have to be locker room chatter – bench behavior should be protected too. You know the article said that one player didn’t respond to the coach’s spirit. Pity that poor guy later in life when he looks back at his insubordination. CHOKE! The little pecker-head was probably ashamed of his size. Dude – Size Don’t Matter – its all how you use it.

I don’t know how the school’s administration got wind of this or who filed the initial complaint. But I’m going to guess that it was some relocated city scum from San Francisco or other priss ass – kiss ass community. Down East’rs just aren’t brought up that way to raise an issue over manhood and winning.

This same sort of parental/administration interference was revealed to me many years ago when I was coaching youth hockey. I was a Bantam AA coach and was assisting with the Midget A team also. Sam was the coach of the Midget A team and had a fine playing and coaching reputation. He even ran an equipment repair business repalming gloves, fixing goalie gear and adding extra stitching to stiffen-up skate boots. Good guy. Always loud and really made the guys skate.

Well we had one smart ass on the team and during the course of a game, Sam had to grab a near-by player’s stick and use it to smack the smart ass on his helmet to get his attention. No anger just motivational nudging. The kid’s dad took offence to the Sam’s behavior and within the week I was coaching two teams.

I coached most of those guys the next season on the Midget A team again. I even had a couple of young ladies on the team that year. I’ll tell you – you’ve never seen such a tight team as the time some opposing goon tried to take out one of those ladies. But I had one young man that got into trouble with the law because of his messed up folks. He truly loved the game. We had a monthly rotating practice schedule that had us out at 6:00 AM Sunday mornings for a while. One of my goalies worked for the rink and could get us in (read: knew how to break in) and turn lights on if the morning staff didn’t show up. But this other kid that got in trouble had parents that wanted him to play (so he wouldn’t be in their way) but regularly wouldn’t get him to the rink. These early Sundays were the worst and he couldn’t get a hold of anyone to give him a ride one morning. So he took his parent’s car. Apparently he had done this before and this time the parents, upon waking, called the cops. Shit sometimes happens when you really pursue what you want.

Dedication, motivation – that’s what I’m talking about. Coaches should be immune from punishment for their behavior – no matter what it is if the team or the player becomes inspired enough to improve – to play at their best – and to win.

Years after coaching youth hockey some of those guys later played on the same senior team (the Orange County Outlaws) with me. At some point in time I quit playing a checking game and moved on to a more relaxed yet still enjoyable version. The Outlaws started drifting apart because a lot of the original players had done like me and moved to non-checking. Both of my younger brothers, Jingles and Bronzie, were still playing so I decided to run the team and renting the ice for practice, etc.

We joined the West Coast Hockey League (WCHL) which was a shared gate semi-pro organization (what a laugh that was – only Vegas drew any substantial crowd). We were pretty good though and held our own. After a couple of years we were asked to join another league that had its hub draw at Anchorage – it later became the league that the Long Beach Ice Dogs joined and we now see that they’re in the ECHL. Unfortunately we didn’t move on but that’s another story yet to be told.

We were in the semi-finals playing back-to-back games in Fresno against the Aces. Our first game which we had won had been on Saturday night. The usual partying and heavy drinking followed for a late night with an early Sunday morning game the next day. The guys showed up hung over - I mean badly hung over and were playing worse then flat. I don’t know how bad we were losing but it didn’t help my confidence from the get-go when our starting goalie showed me that he couldn’t hold his hands steady. I’m not sure which intermission it was when we were back in the locker room when I let the guys have it. Jamie Todd, our captain, happened to be video taping it so I got to see myself in action later. The video tape could have been used at one of those boot camp leadership seminars. I held nothing back and let the guys know that regardless of their hangovers and shit ass playing I hadn’t driven all the way up to fucking Fresno to watch them lose a game. You know there’s a phrase “Balls to the Wall” that’s used as similar to “Pedal to the Metal”. It makes “Skate Hard” sound so trivial. Well all of that, as my memory works, wasn’t enough. For at least ten of those fifteen minutes I just screamed at them. There were no niceties, like, “You made a good check at the blue line” or “Sweet breakout pass”. No “Nice shot”, “Good goal”, or “Great save”. I just whipped them like the delinquents they were.

It was my success. It was their success - as we pulled that one out by a winning our semi-final round.

I’m not sure if I used this one or not because I don’t have a copy of the video to review right now, but it was always one of my favorites. “Balls out!”

Think about that.

What does “Balls out!” mean?

I’ll explain to you like I had to explain to the team.

When you play highly competitive hockey you have to play fearless. What can cause fear? Fear of the dark? Nah. Fear of losing face? Yeah, sometimes. Fear of losing? Sure, but that’s just a lack of confidence. Fear of pain? Usually not.

Fear is a weakness when you’re on the ice. I’ve had that fear and I know that it’s a weakness. I’ve taken a slap shot in the balls while making a backwards sliding block. Those little jewels got squished against the inside of my cup with so much pain that I had to crawl to the bench from the far side boards. Pain, embarrassment, weakness. What is weakness? Fear.

If you have a weakness you’ve got to overcome in. A man’s balls are his weakness in more ways then one. Boys, if you’re going to let your balls hinder your play then leave them at home in jar.

That’s what “Balls out!” means.

If I yell to the guys to skate balls out is it so much different then this Maine basketball coach asking his guys to measure up? Its motivation, its inspiration – it’s a request for dedication to your sport, your team, and yourself to be the best that you can be. It damn sure isn’t something to get fired over.

Jasper Wheats here. Skate hard boys cuz walking with wood feels so good.