Saturday, December 27, 2008


Oh! Gee you guys, I’m just feeling so friggin rich right now. I’ve got moola squirtin outta my ass if you know what I mean. I’ve got so much shit I don’t know what to do with it. Could you use a little? I’ll send ya some. Just send me $9.95 to cover shipping and handling and it’ll be delivered on your door step before ya know it.

Yah, I tried to sell “Fall Foliage” last year on the internet. It was one of my get rich quick schemes. All I had to do was rake it up outta the front yard and package it in 10 gallon trash bags. For $10.00 plus $9.95 to cover shipping and handling you could get your own sweet decorations just in time for Thanksgiving. What a deal, ehh? Including delivery, that’s less than two bucks a gallon. Cheaper than milk, until two weeks ago it was cheaper than gas. What a deal!

I figured that I’d sell out my own yard pretty quick-like and then hire my services to extract these colorful decorations from the yards of folks in town.

Of course it wasn’t just me, I hornswaggled my old pal and inventor extraordinaire Mr. Stinky Duval to assist with this golden opportunity. Stinky and I sat down towards the end of the summer last year and sorta planned the whole thing out. He a had a couple of industrial vacuums out at the junk yard that he had refurbished with bailing wire, duct tape and Shoe-Goo that we could attach to my yard tractor. Combining that with a hybrid snow blower he had converted we figured that we could harvest a hundred thousand worth of tree droppings in no time flat. Just gather it all up, haul it back to my place in our trucks and one of Stinky’s makeshift trailers, and repackage it out by the barn for shipping.

I checked into the costs for fuel, trash bags, colorful and arty labels, shipping cartons, UPS, and of course internet expenses on ebay. All in all we figured that what we charged for gathering in town plus the shipping and handling fee would cover all of this. The ten bucks a pop would be our pay for doing all the work.

Some things that we didn’t think about included the amount of dog doodoo that we had to separate out of our collection, the other useless and less than colorful fodder that got sucked up, and most importantly that maybe nobody was willing to buy our wonderful “Fall Foliage”. Needless to say we ended up with three piles of stuff out by the barn: one small pile of dog crap (that I have since hauled out into the woods and buried – it was really friggin putrid), a medium sized pile of twigs and other useless fodder, and one humongous pile of leaves that is still sitting there and here it is over a year later. The leaves have settled some but it’s still just as big as a hay mound.

So now I’ve got Stinky trying to figure out a way to convert or compress the leaves and fodder into some sort a very solid cylindrical shape so that we could market the stuff as fireplace logs. Who knows, we maybe could be successful some day.

And then this past fall we had whole bunch a folks that wanted to hire us again to clean their yards. Being pretty pissed off about the whole thing we of course turned ‘em all down. Based on the volume of calls though, it makes me think that we hadn’t charged enough anyway to do the jobs last year.

So Christmas 2008 has now come and gone. The economic situation in the world and especially here in the back woods is just about as smelly as that pile of dog crap I buried. Yup! Kinda sucks. So a get rich quick scheme would suit me just fine.

If you aren’t having problems right now, well kudos to you my friend.

How’s this all going to affect hockey? Well, things might change for a while.

I mentioned recently how the triumphant success of Gretzky in the ‘80’s and 90’s had recently created a growth in hockey. Because he ended up playing in Los Angeles it created a lot of growth there. We also have seen the former North Stars moved to Dallas and several other NHL teams have created homes in locations not conducive to natural ice hockey. These being Phoenix, Florida, North Carolina, Atlanta, Nashville, etc.

So your saying “Jasper, what ya mean ‘conducive to natural ice hockey’?“

Well, I’m talking about pond hockey, of course. The cheap kind of hockey!

Pond hockey is the fundamental, grass roots form of the game we love. It might be on a neighborhood pond, a flooded area in a community park, or a gosh-for-durn big old lake. Is pond hockey organized? Yup there are generally respected rules like maybe no lifts over the knees, no slapshots, no checking, take it behind your own net after a goal, etc. But is it ‘overwhelmingly organized’? No way! That’s what makes it so pure.

Probably the most organized version of pond hockey occurs in the various regional tournaments that are held. Bronzy, Woody and some of the other Outlaws are heading over to Eagle River, Wisconsin for the Labatt Blue 2009 Pond Hockey Tournament starting on February 13th. As of this writing, they have over 200 teams already signed up. Four to six man teams, no goalies, and a minimum of three games guaranteed. Now that’s organized. Bring on the brews, ehh! And ya know it’s gonna be colder than poop over there, but that’s the spirit of good pond hockey. Brings out some good color in your cheeks.

But pond hockey can be nothing more than a game of shinny, two on two; to maybe as big as two pickup teams of ten each with even goalies in the net. But often times there are no goalies, just the nets tipped over or a couple of boots set out to shoot between, and no more than a line each side because everyone wants to skate instead of standing around getting frostbit.

The equipment for pond hockey ends up being a little different too. Generally, you’re never in full gear. If ya have a helmet on, then it’s been adjusted so you can where a stocking cap under it. If you’re gonna be out there for a long time then your gloves might be big enough to wear knit gloves inside of but more than likely you’re wearing big old leather mittens with heavy knit wool liners. Shin pads? For sure, but over your best and warmest long johns. And your skates, they might be size or two bigger than you’d use in an indoor rink because again, you’re wearing something thick and warm – on your feet inside of what ya lace up. The skates won’t be as sharp as you’d have them for perfect indoor use. Nope, no point in that.

Yep, when your playing pond hockey, there’s a good chance you might not be wearing as much gear. It’s more economical than club hockey, that’s for sure. Shit throw out those club dues, ehh. I checked around a bit and if you were playing at the Midget or Junior level in Rochester, MN it would cost ya $645 for the season. The same thing down in Southern California costs ya about $950. Good old neighbor hood pond hockey – zip! And ya can’t play that in Tampa Bay or Anaheim can ya?

So it doesn’t cost a bunch to play pond hockey. And if the pond is near enough to a bunch of houses that can shoot flood lights out there, you just might be able to play out there every night, not to speak of all weekend long. Sure, finding an errantly passed puck is a bit of a bitch at night, but it ain’t no piece of cake during the day either depending upon what type of snow you’ve got surrounding your playing surface.

So these kids that want to start playing hockey in the southern regions are up against some financial road blocks. And like I said with the economy hitting the skids its only going to be more cumbersome to their folks. And will all of the southern youth leagues survive? Don’t know. Will the rinks survive? Again I don’t know.

I dug into the economics of suiting up a player for league play. Below I present the cost of gear showing low end to high end for an approximately fourteen year old male player (non-goalie) with new equipment (in the northern regions there are countless places to purchase good used equipment with considerable discounts – this is not readily available to players in the southern belt area of the USA) using a wooden stick (yup – gotta be walking with wood). These are internet prices (USD) and I don’t indicate the store location or brand. Anyway, you’ll be able to see ice hockey isn’t cheap (and again, you’re saying “Well I coulda told ya that Jasper”). So here it is – in your face:

Helmet $30 to $150
Cage $23 to $130
Mouth Guard $3 to $34
Shoulder Pads $30 to $120
Elbow Pads $16 to $75
Gloves $40 to $200
Jersey $12 to $300
Long Johns $8 to $35
Cup/Shorts w/Cup $10 to $50
Pants/Breezers $30 to $135
Shin Pads $25 to $105
Socks $10 to $25
Skates $48 to $650
Gear Bag $20 to $125
Wooden Stick $13 to $85
Roll of Tape $2 to $4
TOTAL $320 to $2226

Wow! That’s not cheap, ehh! And some of this stuff you have to buy every year because the kid outgrows it. Some things last damn near forever – like shoulder pads (of course they end up smelling pretty ripe and that can be used as a defensive tactic – if nothing more than securing bench space in the locker room). And of course I didn’t include an undershirt, suspenders, garter belt, skate socks, or this or that doodad that ya just have to have. If ya belong to club team add the cost of dues; numbers, names and logos on the jersey and maybe the helmet; travel costs and refreshments. It all adds up.

Because of this and the situation with our economy will we see a major reduction in organized club hockey? I think so. And even the great play of Sidney Crosby and his super skilled teammate Evgeni Malkin, or putting all of the Staal brothers on the ice at once will not help this forthcoming skid.

Yep that neighborhood pond sounds like a good deal. Wish I had one in my backyard, uh-huh.

Maybe I should figure out how to market pond hockey in Florida, ehh. Could be my get rich scheme. Or maybe not. Seems as though they’ve got outdoor roller hockey. Is it the same as freezing your nookies off playing pond hockey? Uh-uh, I don’t think so. Don’t want to rag on that perspective of our sport, but it’s not even close.

In closing I say this to all of my crazed out puck buddies – skate hard always, and play pond hockey as often as you can. Use it or lose it.

Jasper here until next time.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I didn’t actually write this myself. I did edit it a bit to keep it aligned with my other tales though. I’m told that it is an article submitted to a 1999 Louisville Sentinel contest to find out who had the wildest Christmas dinners. It won first prize.

As a joke, my brother Jingles used to hang a pair of pantyhose over his fireplace before Christmas. He said all he wanted was for Santa to fill them. Yeah, right, you guys, he needed a skirt and pantyhose would just get in his way.

What they say about Santa checking the list twice must be true because every Christmas morning, although Jingles’ kids' stockings overflowed, his poor pantyhose hung sadly empty. Needless to say those pantyhose had also gotten a little groaty over the years.

One year I decided to make his dream come true. I put on sunglasses and an old Outlaws jersey and went in search of an inflatable love doll. They don't sell those things at Wal-Mart. No sirreee! I had to go to an adult bookstore downtown. (Actually I had to go down to the Cities cuz there shit as shit ain’t any store like that around here.)

If you've never been in an X-rated store, don't go. You'll only confuse yourself. I was there like an hour or so saying things like, 'What does this do?' 'You're fuckin kidding me, ehh?' 'Who would buy that?' ‘No way, you guys actually sell this shit?’

Finally, I made it to the inflatable doll section.

I wanted to buy a standard, uncomplicated doll that could also substitute as a passenger in my truck so I could use the car pool lane when I drive down in the Cities sometimes during rush hour. Or maybe we could put her in the nets when we needed a goalie during pickup, ehh.

Finding what I wanted was difficult. 'Love Dolls' come in many different models. The top of the line, according to the side of the box, could do things I'd only seen in a book on animal husbandry. I settled for 'Anna Nickel, the Gal with the Big Nips.' She was at the bottom of the price scale, or so I was told, but it still cost me an arm and a leg to get out of the damn store – of course I had to get something for myself too. Now hush your mouth you degenerate fools.

To call Anna Nickel a 'doll' took a huge leap of imagination.

So anyway on Christmas Eve and with the help of an old bicycle pump, Anna Nickel came to life. My sister-in-law was in on the plan and let me in during the wee morning hours (well it was late and I had been kicked out of the bar because they closed early on Christmas Eve). Long after Santa had come and gone, I filled the dangling pantyhose (yeah “dangling” like Crosby douching your defensemen) with Anna Nickel's pliant legs and bottom. I also ate some cookies and drank what remained of a glass of milk on a nearby tray. Damn near threw up cuz I’ll tell ya that warm milk really stirs up a gut full a beer.

Anyway, I went on home, and giggled and puked for a couple of hours.

The next morning my brother called to say that Santa had been to his house and left a present that had made him VERY happy, but had left the dog confused. She would bark, start to walk away, then come back and bark some more. Damn good thing old pooch didn’t sniff and lift a leg, ehh.

We all agreed that Anna Nickel should remain in her pantyhose so the rest of the family could admire her when they came over for the traditional Christmas dinner.

My grandmother noticed Anna Nickel the moment she walked in the door. 'What the hell’s bell is that?' she asked. (They say that my gutter mouth comes from her side of the family – Norwegian-Irish mix the mongrel bitch is!)

Jingles quickly explained, 'It's a doll.'

'Who would play with some kinda shit thing like that?' Granny snapped. I kept my mouth shut but my gut was about to bust.'Where are her clothes? Is she supposed to be some kind of floozy doll or what?' Granny continued.

'Boy, that turkey sure smells nice, Gran,' Jingles said, to steer her into the dining room.

But Granny was relentless. 'Why doesn't she have any teeth? Crappininee Jasper boy” as she turned towards me, “Barbie dolls don’t even have tits that big'

Again, I could have answered, but why would I? It was Christmas and no one wanted Granny to flash her floppy ones again this year!

My grandfather, a delightful old man with poor eyesight, sidled up to me and said, ' Hey, who's the naked gal by the fireplace?'

I told him she was Jingles’ friend.

A few minutes later I noticed Grandpa by the mantel, talking to Anna Nickel. Not just talking, but actually flirting. It was then that we realized this might be Grandpa's last Christmas at home. Yup, might have to put him off the farm next year.

The dinner went well. We made the usual small talk about who had died, who was dying, and who should be killed, when suddenly Anna Nickel made a noise like Pops doing his dooty in the bathroom in the morning. Then she lurched from the mantel, flew around the room twice, and fell in a heap in front of the sofa.

The cat screamed.

I passed cranberry sauce through my nose, and Grandpa ran across the room, fell to his knees, and began administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Didn’t know he knew how to do that shit. Nope!

Jingles fell back over his chair and wet his pants.

Granny threw down her napkin, flashed her sagumsush love sacks at her kneeling husband and stomped out of the room to sit in the car with a half-gone bottle of gin.

It was indeed a Christmas to treasure and remember.

Later in my brother's garage, we conducted a thorough examination to decide the cause of Anna Nickel’s collapse. We discovered that she had suffered from a hot ember to the back of her right thigh.

Fortunately, thanks to some all purpose and ever ready duct tape that Jingles dug out of his hockey bag, we restored her to perfect health.

I can't wait until next Christmas.

Have a good one gang!

Jasper here just walking with wood again.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Christmas is almost here and I have decided to write about it more so than the humor of hockey in this edition of my blog.

For those of you that don’t really know me, my real name is Bob O’Dea. I currently live in California along Interstate 80 between Sacramento and San Francisco. You can find me on myspace where my tag is Hockey Bob. If you’re a member on myspace then you can send me messages or comments there and I’ll usually respond. If you want you can email me at also. Again, I’ll usually respond.

But the humor of hockey is usually my trade in words. I’ve lived in places where this sport can be played on frozen ponds as well as the indoor rinks that are so prevalent now days. There are rinks all over the place now and I believe that we can thank the superstardom of the Great One for the growth of hockey over the past two decades and of course the current cream of the crop hasn’t hurt anything as I now write this.

So Christmas – this is the celebration of the birth of Christ our savior. It is a Christian celebration. Yup, that includes me. Check out my page on myspace. It says that I am and I certainly don’t deny it.

“What?” you're saying. “Hockey Bob, the writer of Jasper Wheats stories and all that tom foolery and swearing; he can’t be a Christian. No sirree!”

Well truth be told I sure am. Handed myself over to the Lord back in the seventies. And ever since than, this season has inspired me immensely. Much more so than the decorations, trees, lights, Santa Clause and gift giving ever can. Those are all nice things mind ya but they are so much more so if we remember and acknowledge the reason why we celebrate.

I said that Christmas is a Christian celebration. It is for sure, but Christ, who we celebrate, is for everyone. With this in mind I just really want to wish all of my readers to have a really great and Merry Christmas.

I say bah humbug to that ridiculous “politically correct” requirement of not using this terminology. I’m not trying to stuff my religion down anyone’s throat. I’m just trying to share my joy of the season with all of you great folks regardless of your personal beliefs.

Enjoy it. Love it. And hopefully don’t turn your nose up because of it.

So there are a lot of things going on where folks are celebrating this season. This is not just in my neck of the woods, but yours to I’m sure. So get out there and be entertained and enjoy the things being offered.

Saturday, my honey and I went downtown to our little community center and got to see some very, very young kids performing some Christmas songs and dance numbers. So much joy and so much fun for all involved. And then last night we got to see Faith Hill singing just a whole bunch of my Christmas favorites. What a beauty and what a great voice! Kinda makes my heart all purr like a great big old fuzzy pussy cat.

Our church has a children’s Christmas program. We’ve been to these just for the joy of them. Our own grandkids our clear across the country and we will miss them dearly again this year. Don’t miss your kids’ programs.

I’ve been through the malls and have seen all the decorations and the folks shopping.


And I’ve driven through the neighborhoods and have seen how the yards are decorated and the houses are all lit up. Hmmm … doesn’t seem to be as many of them this year. Our lights aren’t going up – a little tough on my financial status this year – but it’ll get better. I have faith!

So maybe it’s a tough time for you this year too, or maybe for someone you know. Don’t let it get you down. Put a smile on your face anyway. You’d be surprised how much that will lift the spirits of others that get to see that smile. And give someone a hand. Volunteer yourself to someone less fortunate. It will warm your heart!

And if ya really want to have a blast you can always organize a group of folks to go around singing Christmas carols in your neighborhood. Don’t worry if you’re like me and can’t carry a note. So what. It just gives ya something more to laugh about between houses, ehh.

Last year we visited a house in the Sacramento area that had just scads of lights all synchronized with a computer to Christmas songs. It was a blast to see this, but I wonder, did the people that arranged it really know what they were celebrating? I sure hope so.

Well it’s tough to close a Christmas tale, but I’ve got to now anyway.

The Sheriff came by yesterday and said that Tidwilly and the Wanker boys were going to get released from the county lock-up later this week. Great, I’m thinking – just in time for Christmas. Sure hope that they don’t act up like the toads that they did last year.

Ok you guys!

Have a Merry Christmas!

And skate hard all of you sweet little puckers!

Jasper Wheats

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Well, we’re into the Holiday season for this year. Thanksgiving is just over and Christmas now is less than a month away with New Years following a week later. It’s a good time of year to celebrate with family and friends, ehh? With hockey season in full swing it’s the durn burn best time of the year!

Reminds me of a time way back now. Can’t say for sure what year it was but I was still taking my bruises while skating with the original Outlaws. Both Jingles and Bronzy were skating with me so it must a been the early 80’s.

We had a really good team back then. After my bro’s joined the team and some of their former team mates from youth hockey had also, we just seemed to kick shit with regularity. It was a good time, shit for sure! We were rowdy, nasty and skilled. We had jelled this season after being just a smidgen on the loosey-goosey side the season before.

As it was, and is typical of most amateur seasons, in the previous season the league had shut down for about three weeks surrounding Christmas and New Years. There was the occasional shinny and pond hockey sessions to get involved with but most of us got together on the off nights and drank our fool asses off; whining about the lack of competitive play during this idle stretch. And of course the lack of strange tang to conquer here in the backwoods of the far north.

On one particular night, before he got just snockered, Woody boasted loudly “Next season ya fuck heads, were gonna go to a Holiday tournament. I seen in an advertisement over to Ole’s Skate Shop that they’ve got tournaments in Denver, Florida, and California every year during Christmas break. We gonna do this next year or what? Ehh?” He raised his mug and we all clinked in and immediately yelled for several more pitchers of the suds.

To cover a lot a ground quickly, we held Woody to it. He was and still is really great at organizing shit and got us set up in a tournament in Southern California. We were guaranteed four games minimum and a trip to see the Rose Parade as part of the package.

It took us almost two days to get there with all the connecting flights and layovers. Nothing but a continuous drunk for all of us along the way. Woody had booked some especially cheap flights; mainly on airlines that ain’t no longer in business now-a-days.

We were all booked into a Super 8 hotel in some town north of the freeway and we had rented two passenger vans for the eleven of us that went. That was two full lines and Guy, our goalie. We had four rooms: One with four guys sharing, two with three, and one for Guy by himself (Shit, everybody knows ya can’t room with a goalie, right? – They’re just too fuckin nuts). There was a bar right next door, Lucky Johns I think, as was a liquor store and a Denny’s was a few blocks away with some burger and taco joints within walking distance. We were set as set can be. Bought some cases and filled the tub up in one of the rooms so that we could continue being just absolutely trashed.

We had to check in for the tournament and get our schedules. Our first game was the next afternoon at 2:00 pm at the Ice Capades Chalet. Sign-in was at Klondike, a nice cold rink, NHL size it looked like, with only glass at the ends. So we got directions to the other rink a couple a miles away and went over to it to check it out too. Both rinks were about five miles from the hotel and as they say out there in California, “Freeway close”.

Ice Capades Chalet, ehh? Oh what a little piece of shit this place was. Not even full size, but I’ve played on pond ice that was smaller, so we decided to quit griping. But it had no glass at all, just fishnet, no defined benches or penalty box, and the friggin far side from the entrance and one end had brick above the boards with protruding pilasters. We were told that special rules applied and any real physical contact along these areas would end up in boarding calls. Shit it looked like panty waste hockey in this rink, ehh. Plus the damn place smelled like old vomit, ammonia, the refrigeration system must leak a bit we figured.

We stuck around for a bit watching a B division game between a local team and a team that had come down from Iowa or somewhere. We chatted with locals and they said that there was a fair bar outside and around the corner of the building, Bilbo Baggins. They said that Friday and Saturday nights were pretty good for chicks and that the place had a band. We gave it a look see and pounded a few drafts. They had an outdoor court and if you left your drink at your table you could walk a couple a yards over to windows that overlooked one end of the rink. Not bad. Not bad at all.

Woody’s slurring his words by now, he’s pretty tossed as are most of us or getting there anyway. Shit we’ve been drinking solid for almost three days now. Woody tells us that he got directions for a bar and grill at the beach where we could get some grub, drink schooners and check out the Pacific Ocean. So we piled into the vans and headed off to Newport Beach, I think it was, to this beach-boy bar called Mutts or something like that.

Yep, it was right on the boardwalk. Not summer mind ya but a nice afternoon and a lot of California girls to check out as they walked by or came in to the bar.

Sweet! Not in bikinis this time of the year, but they were fucking hot.

Eggman scored and said he’d get back to the hotel on his own. Me, not a chance in hell. Being short, lopsided and about as handsome as a horse’s ass I have generally accepted that all I ever get to do is look at the honeys.

So we’re all really toasted now. Woody decided to walk down to the water so most of us went along. He only fell flat on face three times. I stumbled once myself. Perdy-near cocked, I was. The second time, Woody gets up and pftts about like Elmer Fudd then lets us know that the sand tastes salty. We get down to the water, its past dusk now, and we can see lights on boats somewhere out on the ocean. Woody whips out his noodle to take a little drizzle and leans back to take it all in and falls over backwards. Pisses all over himself, he does.

Keats, driver of one of the vans says, “Fuck he ain’t riding back with us all pissed up like that. Guy, he’s gonna ride in your van. Probably smells like your gear anyway and you guys won’t notice the difference. Somebody help him up and let’s head back to the hotel.”

Jet lag and all had apparently set in as there was no argument from anyone as we shuffled through the sand back to the parking lot back by Mutts. I don’t know how we found our way back to the hotel and damn surprised that we didn’t get pulled over. Hell of a lot of traffic out there!

The next day we got up at varying times. In each room we had shook out the top mattresses on the floor; that way everybody had a spot to sack out by themselves and didn’t have to crash queer. Gave us all a chance to sleep reasonably well except for the guys crashed by the head that we all had to stumble over when it was time to whiz during the night.

We got our shit together the next day to play our first game. Eggman showed up at the start of the second period with the babe he’d hung with from the day before. Said he was too hung over to play. Woody just looked back at him and then threw up on his own skates and said “Fuck you, Scotty, we’re all hung over.” We won that game seven to five with no mishaps. Had a few beers at Bilbo Baggins and I drove one of the vans back to the hotel with guys that wanted to crash for a bit. Our next game was at 10:00 am the next morning and then we had our third scheduled for that same night with about thirty-six hours before our fourth game was scheduled. Tournament play, that’s how it goes sometimes.

We went back to Bilbo’s later that night and closed the place. And in the morning we were shit for shaky playing in the ten o’clock game at Klondike. I think our opponents had played the night before at Ice Capades and had helped us close the place. They played like shit and were puking all over the ice. Lightweights! We beat them ten to nothing or something. Pounded some brews in the parking lot then all headed back to the hotel to rest up for our evening game.

Keats is driving again in the van I’m in as we head for our third game. He plays D like me and originally hails from the New York City area. Married to a real cat-lady, with a pair of hooters and a hell of a accent. She don’t sound backwoods at all. No sirree! He’s a Rangers fan to the max but wears an Islander’s jacket out of respect for his inlaws that gave it to him a few years back. Woody’s riding shotgun and giving us a pep talk along the way. Eggman’s riding in the other van so that Woody doesn’t chew him a new ass-hole. Seems as though Bronzy is in this van too and I know Jingles is because he’s sitting behind me and keeps grabbing my shoulders shaking me and saying “Come on Jasper, gotta get ya hopped up and the adrenaline flowing! You gotta kick some ass tonight!” Not real sure who else was in this van but we were loud. There was not time for solace in our pain and weariness. Nope. We were jiving!

Guy drove the other van and they got to the rink about five minutes after us. Ice Capades Chalet again. After I dropped my gear inside I went back out in the parking lot. Guy was just pulling his gear outta the back so I offered to help carry some of it in. I grabbed his pads. Oh fuck were they heavy. Old style goalie pads. Leather, stuffed with horsehair and some other shit, but soaked through and through. No wonder they were so heavy, he hadn’t had a chance to get them dry. Goalies, I’m telling you they’re nuts cuz his pads musta weighed about thirty or forty pounds each. How do ya move in that shit????

The game ahead of us as I recall had about a period to go. I found their snack machines and got a Snicker bar and a double shot a sugared up coffee. Needless to say I had the jitters and this was gonna peak those. Probably give me a pre-game shit fest too. I’d rather play light anyway. You guys know what I mean, ehh?

In the dressing room Collin and Woody are pounding beers. Rat’s got his helmet and long johns on, just sitting there with clasped hands. He says to nobody in particular “I kinda like it here. I think I’ll stay after the tourney’s over. Look in to buying some property.” Didn’t figure he’d have his head in the game, ehh. Spaced out somewhere else. Robby’s all geared up already standing outside the doorway, chewing on his mouth guard, holding both sticks together with both hands up near the knobs, his helmet sitting sort of sideways not fastened and just rocking forward and back on his skates.

Pregame rituals ehh. You’ve got yours, we’ve got ours.

So we’re playing against the Flin Flon Sturgeons, a group of big boys from the border of Saskatchewan and Manitoba hailing from the Flin Flon and Sturgeon Lake region. Sheesh, if it took us two days to get down here, I wonder how many days their trip was? They iced three forward lines and two sets of defense. They all looked like lumber jacks. Paul Bunyan had nothing on these guys. The only thing advantages for us in my eyes was that they mostly skated like they had clogged up work boots on. A wittle swuggish wookin if ya know what I meeeeaaannnnn.

Jingles takes the first draw between Bronzy and Collin. Keats and McCloskey on defense. The bastard breaks Jingles’ stick at the drop of the puck so Jingles comes up with both gloves empty handed into his chin and drops him before the ref can figure out what happened, then skates to the bench for a new twig. No penalties called but the tempo is set for the rest of the game.

The big boys are up on us two to nothing at the end of the first. Woody takes the draw to start the third with Rat and Robbie as his wings. Me and Keith are taking the blue line.

Woody’s shorter that me, you know. And the big old oof comes over the top of him on the faceoff and tries to squish him into the ice like ya’d spread butter on bread. Keith had move forward quickly to the face off dot and sprayed the asshole in the face as he stopped. The puck squirted back between the two us and Guy came out to clear it up to Rat as I circled through Keith position. Rat skated up the boards then crossed over center feeding Woody breaking through Rat’s wing position once he finally un-buried his face from the ice. Rat went crazy – all the way across to the opposite wing while Robby drove to the net.

Woody had crossed the blue line with the puck still on the boards and drew two of the Sturgeon towards him as he dropped to Keith on the point. Keith took the one timer and Robbie tipped it home. We were on the scoreboard.

We’re just twenty to twenty-five seconds into the period so we stayed out for the drop. Skating with only two lines we were used to going two to three minutes stop time between shifts. Nuts, but it works and keeps the lines tight and together throughout a game. None of that thirty to forty-five second shifts like in the NHL.

This time Rat moves over to center to take the draw cuz he’s about a foot taller than Woody. Keith and Robby cheat while Woody, the little fire hydrant that he is, inches almost to the boards at the drop. I shifted over almost center ice and again the puck came out of the faceoff right up center where I hit Woody as I crossed the blue line and he was almost crossing into their zone. Again Robby made a b-line towards the net but this time got taken out by both defensemen at once and they all went down in pile to right side of the slot. Woody had open ice to the net, deked left and went high on the right side. It beat the goalie but caught the cross bar and dropped down into the crease. Woody twisted and stuffed it tweeners on his backhand and immediately slapped ass-first against the boards to the right of the net and raised his stick in triumph.

The Sturgeon goalie threw his stick at Woody and got two minutes.

We took a seat. One shift … two goals … all tied up.

Jingles and crew come out to take the faceoff on the power play at center ice. The Sturgeon are slapping at the sticks of Bronzy and Collin working for position. Jingles pulls it back to Keats who circles back behind our net. He hits Collin along the boards on the inside faceoff circle who again circles behind the net and hits Bronzy just inside our blue who taps it to Jingles who had circled in and was now breaking hard across our blue line with Keats jumping up on Bronzy’s side and Collin opposite. Jingles side steps a hit from his right side and hits Keats on the fly with a crisp little snap. Keats bobbles it in his feet and has to look down for a sec and just gets clocked.

Along the far boards, you betcha! Face first right into one of the protruding brick pilasters. Pealed the skin on his forehead like lifting a pancake off a grill. The ref’s blowing his whistle for boarding and Jingles is in this hitter’s face and has got his stick up across this dude’s neck.

Keats has dropped to the ice, knocked out cold and bleeding like a stuck pig. A linesman is signaling for help from our bench and we all jump on the ice.

One of the Flin Flon boys (come to find out that it was the twin brother of the guy Jingles is throttling) grabs Jingles from behind around his neck and tries to wedge him off. Jingles backs down enough to drop his right glove and grabs the helmet off the guy behind him, continues to hold that guy’s head, drops a shoulder while backing off from the first guy and sweeps his leg out and rolls the second guy right over him like a WWF move. In the mean time Bronzy is getting thrown over the boards by some other big clown on the near side of the ice. Shit he only weight about 145 lbs back then. Collin in the mean time is back on the guy that hit Keats and the whole rest of the team is across ice to the area of the original infraction. All this time McCloskey has got some forward by the top of his jersey, holding him with his left hand, head down, and just wailing with his right on this ugly dude’s face.

First, the Sturgeon serving the goalie’s penalty jumped on the ice to join the fracas and all the rest from their bench followed. Guy and their goalie were going at good and you could hear the French cussing just ripping off of Guy’s lips.

It was major mayhem as the remainder of the two benches met. Gloves dropped everywhere. My nose got busted on the second or third punch. We were outnumbered two to one in some cases and the officials couldn’t do anything to stop it. Needless to say we were absolutely getting trashed by these big fuckin lumberjacks.

At one point in this melee I saw that Robby had jumped up on some Sturgeon’s back and had wrapped his legs, skates and all, around the dude and was just wailing on the back of the cat’s neck to no avail.

I’m still swingin, Jingle’s is still swingin, Keith’s bloodied one guy but looked like a Steven King’s Carry with massive amounts of blood running down over his face too. Collin’s got two guys on him and he’s face down in the ice just getting pulverized. Rat looks like he’s knocked out flat on his back and Woody now has someone chasing him.

I look over to the boards, between swings, where Bronzy had been tossed and see him climbing back over but also notice that a bunch of spectators have jumped over the boards too. They’re mostly players from other teams, probably, ya know, but in street shoes the ice wasn’t too friggin delicate with them. They were slipping and sliding trying to get over to break this shit up but half of them had upended bouncing off of their fool noggins.

After about five minutes, I guess, we all cooled down. Somebody had called an ambulance for Keats and after about twenty minutes they were wheeling him away.

The ref called the game. The tournament host tossed us and the boys from Flin Flon out of the tournament without being able to complete any more games and no refund. Woody argued against this with no success. Yup!

“Read your tournament agreement. You signed it as did each of your players. You Outlaws are nothing but a bunch backwoods henchmen as far as I’m concerned. Same for the Sturgeons. And forget about bussing up to the Rose Parade – OUT OF THE QUESTION!”

Far from home. Same kinda results. Old time hockey to the max. We maybe didn’t win the tournament but we sure for shit weren’t lick our wounds either. We’re Outlaws and we’re walking with wood. Yessirree!

I know that we had a few days yet before our flights home so we hung out and got trashed every night. Gave some time for the swelling of Keats forehead to go down and for the stitches and repairs by the doctor to start taking effect. His old lady was sure gonna give him a going over when he got home. He flat ass knew it.

New Years Eve was started at the bar next to the hotel, Lucky Johns, but they had reservations starting at 10:00 pm for some biker party or something so we bailed from there and went down to the small rink and Bilbo Baggins. The little honey that Eggman had nailed showed up with some of her friends and we all hung together for the night. One little chubby sweetheart was sitting next to me at midnight and she gave me a big old hug and kiss as we brought in the new year. Dabnabit if that wasn’t enough coaxing that we went out to the parking lot together a little bit later for some more making out and extracurricular activity that ended us up in the middle seat of the van that I just so happened to have the keys to.

As we had finished up our first round and were heading back to get some more drinking in we met Collin with a honey hanging on to him heading out. Collin said, “Wheats you old toad. What’s ya up to? Say ya got the keys to the van? Let me borrow them for a bit.”

Hell, it was a damn good night! I don’t remember too much more. Just a hell of a hangover the next day and getting razzed by the guys that my date last night had been about as homely as cold wet dog. Yeah well I got some and I know that over half of them didn’t. They were just more interested in getting trashed.

And me? Yeah, that too, but while walking with wood ehh!

Jasper here until next time.

Enjoy these times ….

And skate hard my friends!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Dumb 1

Writing hockey humor is oft times not an easy task. The words, sometimes, just don’t magically appear on paper in some sort of fluid motion going from brain to fingertips to keyboard to computer screen to printed copy; not ending in an organized hodgepodge of fibbery and convoluted fact for your reading enjoyment.

Sometimes the monitor or computer screen doesn’t work because I’ve kicked the cord under my desk and disconnected it from one end or the other.

Or sometimes the keyboard doesn’t work for the same ridiculous reason caused by my friggin little feet. I’ve even had an individual key go bad and have had to replace the keyboard – bucks outta my pocket with no reward for the free effort I provide.


This week, I even had the power receptacle on the back of my laptop go south and so you are getting this trashy tale from my seldom used desktop – hence the use of a plugged in monitor and keyboard, ehh.

Ah, yes … those fingers. Smashed from hockey, too cold and un-limber from being outside for too long without my mitts on, and Lord forbid arthritic conditions that might have set in due to my grand old age. These too might slow me down in my skill to weave a short tale for your delight.

But ….

Yes, but … the most debilitating factor in creating a fictitious pile of shit, my friends, is a malfunction of my puny little pea brain.


I blame it on my muse so much of the time. But you can only take that so far. It’s my brain’s lack of horsepower in the imagination department. Of course it could be that I haven’t been on the ice for some time now. Or it could be that I haven’t just totally gotten crunked for bit too.

So shit! What do you do when you’re having an intense duration of brain farts?

Ya reach for your trusty word book and choose some possible words that you could use for the theme or subject of today’s story.

I picked five different words to choose from for today. I figure that one of them, I’ll be able to horse up enough with humor and hockey to make it worth publishing. You know I’ve got to! That’s it, plain and simple, or I ain’t Jasper Wheats and I ain’t walking with wood. Ehh?

The five words that I randomly picked were:

1) Methodology – means: a system of methods or the underlying rules or principles of a procedure or system – Kinda like running the left wing lock the Devils were so notorious for using.

2) Atrium – means: the central room that an ancient Roman house was built around. Or the main chamber of the heart – Damned if I can think of how this could be the theme of a bullshit hockey story.

3) Satyrasis – means: abnormal or excessive sexual craving in a male – unfounded in my belief, the male of our species is a friggin horndog to the max all of the time – this is not abnormal nor excessive but could certainly be applied to any yarn spun by walking with wood Jasper Wheats. Ehh!?!?

4) Derogatory – means: tending to lessen the reputation or merit of a thing or person – Sean Avery gets in your face, knocks you off your pace and shoots a puck in your space behind that pissed off goalie’s back.

5) Tomahawk – means: a hand axe used as a throwing or chopping weapon; to cut, kill or strike with a tomahawk – yup, there’s a couple of those on the Blackhawks shoulder emblem ain’t there?

Ok, so I provided ya with some definition’s too. Nothing wrong with a little edumacation along the way to makin ya chuckle. I’ve taught a college class or two over the years and figure that you, my reader, could use some learnin once in a while.

Now for some donuts. A writer needs donuts … or cinnamon rolls … or cookies and coffee … or pretzels and beer to kick start the whole shebang, ehh. What’s your medicine? I’ll take any of the above besides a myriad of others.

Couldn’t find any donuts in the cabin so I settled for a bowl of chocolate flavored crisp rice. Brewskies later this evening while watching a game on the tube.

Speaking of televised games, I watched the Wild playing the Pens in Pittsburg earlier this week and got so pissed off at the main camera coverage that I had to fire off an email complaint to Comcast Sportnet. The fool was jerking around so much following the puck that I started getting dizzy. Ya know I like watching the game. I like watching the play develop. I like to see what’s going on on the ice. This blasted cameraman would zoom in so close that the only thing you could see, was say, Crosby and the puck. Damn dude, back off a bit, and you won’t have to move the camera so much. What do you guys think?

Back to my choosing one word from my five choices.

Dudes and dudettes – we’re going with tomahawk for $400 Alex.

As I mentioned earlier you can see the crossed tomahawks on the shoulders of the Chicago Blackhawks. It has been their alternate logo since 1964. What happened with the Blackhawks in 1964, I’m not really sure, but usually when a crossed object emblem is created it indicates the formation of a secret and oftentimes wicked clandestine society (remember the Outlaws Crossed Stick Society and that I’m still a member). Well this we do know, that prior to 1964 the Blackhawks had Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita playing for them. And in 1964 Bobby’s brother, Dennis, joined the team. This could certainly have had something to do with the new alternate logo and the implication of a secret society within membership of the Blackhawks. Bobby and Dennis together were quite the pair of party animals. I leave you to investigate that further – I don’t want to supposition any more than I have to to peak your interest any more.

It’s kind of interesting but the standard logo for the Blackhawks, that image of the Native American, with feathers and all, is quite often voted the best sports logo. I bet that you didn’t know that it was designed by the wife of the first owner. Her name was Irene Castle and she had been a famous dancer. Her husband, Frederick McLaughlin, had bought the team (then playing on the west coast as the Portland Rosebuds) and moved them to Chicago where he named them the Blackhawks after the military unit that he had served with. In their first game the Blackhawks won 4-1 over the Toronto St. Patricks on November 19, 1926. That’s just about eight-two years ago this week. Crazy, ehh? Where’s those losers now???

Do you own a tomahawk? How about a hatchet? An ax?

Me, I currently own a hatchet. It’s really more like an oversized lathing hammer and I’ve never used it as a weapon. Have you ever used yours as a weapon?

When I was kid I had one that was a toy with a rubber head. That was probably good because I know I used it to chop on my sisters all of the time. I was always trying to scalp them in some sort of misogynist attitude. Of course Mom and Dad whuuped on me each time and eventually the attitude went away and I became a fair lover of the opposite sex (Did someone say “Satyrasis”?).

Did any of you guys own one of those rubber headed tomahawks when you were a kid? You could get them at Wall Drugs or any other tourist novelty store. Shit you can still probably get them at Spencer’s, ehh?

So this year the NHL has started cracking down some of the stuff that I always took for granted as a necessary part of the play. I love to get my stick up on the mid section of a player. Not really a slash and not really a hook. Usually I’m going for high on their stick and gloves. Kinda lets ‘em know that I’m there, ya know. More a bit of chase factor than anything else when you’re an old fart like me and can’t skate as fast as your opponents. It looks like I’d get called all the time. I’m not trying to impede him and I sure as shit ain’t tomahawking the dude with a nasty slash or getting up high enough to be called for high sticking.

When I was younger (and you still see it today when a player can get it away with doing it) it used to be a nasty little ploy to tomahawk an opponent’s stick right below his lower glove hand when he had his weight on it; like during a face off. The intention was to snap his stick right below his glove and it often worked. He’d be stickless until he could get to the bench. Haha! Pretty expensive these days when you think of the cost of some of these shafts now used by the non-traditionalists (ya gotta be walking with wood ehh unless you’re fuckin rich).

The second year that I was coaching youth hockey an incident of tomahawking promoted my career. I had started the season as a Bantam AA coach. I was working with a good group of kids. All heart but really lacking the skills to be at the double A level. Second year skaters as Bantams and their parents always figurin that their kid should be playing at a level better than the skills that he or she really had. Yep, love is blind. We didn’t win many games that year though I gave them a good effort on my part. One of the grandfathers, Alex, was my assistant.

The Midget A team usually practiced right after us so I would stick around to help out. They were coached by a pretty good skater by the name of Sam Nation. Had a lot of hockey smarts and the skills to go with them. He didn’t have a formal assistant so I’d show up for games when I could to help out. These were usually just the home games. Anyway, at one of the home games while trying to get these yahoo’s to get their shit together for the next line change, Sam was having no luck getting one big lunk-head to pay attention. So he grabbed the nearest stick and tomahawked him right over the top of his helmet. I had to laugh. Didn’t hurt the kid at all. But he finally caught on what he was supposed to pay attention to while on the bench. The unfortunate thing for Sam was the fact that the kid’s dad saw him do this. The complaint went up to the team board and they let Sam go whereupon I took over coaching two teams for the rest of the season. The next year I coached Midget AA and off I went with my coaching career. Sam ended up in Flagstaff coaching Junior A. I’ve gotta say, he was a good coach – I learned a lot from getting to work with him. Most importantly, I learned, don’t tomahawk your players over their heads. Especially when their parents are around to see ya do it.

Okee –dokee, folks. Ya wanted fly under the radar. But keep your elbows up going into the corners, keep your sticks down, and skate your asses off. You never know, you might be the next Sidney Crosby, Dustin Brown, Alex Ovechkin or Evgeni Malkin. Ehh??

Jasper here, skatin hard until next time and walking with wood always!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Plastered in Paris

Oh this is sure some kinda donkey doodoo – but what can I say. I’ve been out of it for a while and it’s gonna take a while for it all to come back, ehh.

You guys just need to hang on while I find a purpose for my being again. All I can say is that is that some where along the way I’m gonna be walking with wood again.

I’m getting a lot of my strength back – I think anyway – not real sure how much strength I had before the little boo-boo to my brain and hardshell skull. But the Hon says that I am and I ain’t about to fight with her over it, ehh. If she says it then it must be fact.

She told me last week that I’ve been talking in my sleep – talking some shit she says and usually it’s about hockey. So she sat me down last Saturday and tells me that we’ve got to dig into this. Get to the root of the changes in my sleep habit. So she got the doctor to order a sleep study. It got approved right away and I had a sleep-over for the study on Tuesday night. Oh and let me tell you guys – sleep studies are some kinda nuts.

The Hon drops me off at the sleep-over clinic at around 9:30 pm. I’ve got some jams with me, my favorite pillow and a paperback. They get me signed in, show me to my room and the bed I’m going to sleep in. I get into my jams and the technician comes in and puts twenty-four different probes on me. These wired up little do-hickies are stuck on my head, up my fool nose, on my chest, shoulders and legs. And I’m expected to sleep. Are they nuts or what?

I don’t think I slept a wink but in the morning I had to fill out a survey about my dreams. I was drawing a complete blank so part of the program was that I had agreed to an injection of fast acting sodium pentothal and their direct questioning if this occurred.


I really hate shots. But I had agreed to do this I guess, so off to the world of absolute subjected honesty.

They had to videotape this whole truth serum thingy and than provide me with a copy afterwards – otherwise I wouldn’t be able to relate any of the following shit to you. Apparently there is some amnesiac drug included in the serum, ehh.

Let me fill ya in on what transpired. Ya might find it just as stupid as I did.

Ok, so they start out asking me some simple questions like what is my name, how old I am and than dig a little deeper asking more personal questions to confirm my subjection to the concoction that they loaded me up with.

The tech, I’ll call her Joan, finally gets around to asking dream questions.

“Mr. Wheats do you remember dreaming last night?”

“Ahh … yup … sure”, I responded.

“Did you have more than one dream Mr. Wheats?” Joan quizzed me.

“Two vivid ones and a couple of maybe little snips of others. Oh and call me Wheats or Jasper, please, I really don’t like being called mister anything. Sounds too stuffy for me, like I might have my head stuck up my ass or something. Just don’t like it. Ok?”

“Ok, Jasper, I’ll make an effort to be more casual, though it goes against the professional nature of this study. Now let’s go over the first dream that you’ve remembered.” She made a couple of marks on the papers she had attached to a clipboard and looked over at me still sitting in my jams on the edge of the bed and said “Was this dream in color or black and white?”

“By golly” I said, “it for fuckin sure was in color! My dreams have been in color since the seventies. That’s when I used to do all them psychedelics. Whoa baby, those were some crazy times, ehh. How about you Joanie girl? You get colors too?”

She made another mark on the clipboard. “Mr. Wheats”, cleared her throat and continued “I mean Jasper, this session is about you not me. You need to keep your responses restricted to only what I ask. There is no need for you to divulge your personal history to me. Ok? Is this clear?”

“Um-huh. Sure. I gotcha.” Damn if I’m not smiling ear to ear in the video.

Ok, Jasper, back to the dream. Was it a good dream? Happy, fun, enjoyable? Or a bad dream? Scary, fearful, intimidating – maybe a nightmare?”

I responded really quick like, didn’t even have to think. “It was fun and exciting but I was scared in the end. It was a hockey dream and I got hurt.”

“Fun, exciting and scary? Was it a nightmare Jasper? Your heart rate and brain activity during your first REM was highly accelerated during this dream. That would indicate to us that it was possibly a nightmare. You also started making verbal attempts during this dream. It came out sort of like ehh, ehh, ehh on several occasions.”

“Sure, sure … maybe it was a nightmare. I was talking huh?” I said.

“Yes, you were trying to talk and yes we believe that this dream could be classified as a nightmare. Tell me some more about the dream. Were you in the dream?” she quizzed again.

“Oh yeah, I was in the dream. You can bet your bippy I was.”

“And where were you?”

“I was in Paris. Paris, France. Everything in the background was like from a Monet painting. So yeah, I’m pretty sure it was Paris where I was at.”

Joan now asked, “Have you ever been to Paris, Jasper?”

“Nope. Canada and Mexico a few times each. And Texas, too, a whole bunch of times if that counts.”

“Mr. Wheats, try to stick to the questions or we’ll be here all day. OK? Now what was the dream about? Was it sexual? The recordings indicated that you were aroused during this dream.” What can you tell me?

“Aroused? Hah, I had boner, ehh? No shit? What do ya know. The Hon will appreciate knowing that I can still get some wood after my brain injury, ehh. Whacha think Joan? She’ll be happy, huh?”

I couldn’t believe I was talking this shit – must be the meds making me a smidgen uninhibited.

“Yes, Mr. Wheats. Those are the indications but I can’t speak for you wife. Now back to the dream please.”

“Oh, yeah. Right. I was playing hockey. You know, ice hockey. I was playing in a game in the NHL for the LA Kings. Over in France. We were playing against the Islanders. I remember that Butch Goring was coaching the Islanders with John Lennon and Mick Jaeger as his assistants. Crazy – they aren’t even bitched up in hockey like Goring is. And me. I’m playing defense with some French-Canadian dude that I couldn’t understand. But he looked just like Kurt Russell in Big Trouble in Little China. The movie, you know. My Dad was coaching the Kings and Rogie Vashon was our goalie coach. But he was all geared up and would jump up on the bench and jump up and down yelling at us in French and broken English. It was crazy but we were wearing our purple, black and white jerseys; but Rogie was in the old gold and purple uniform. He looked like one of those wind-up toy gorilla’s or monkey’s that spank cymbals together. You know?”

At this point she broke in and interrupted my recollection of the dream.

“Is ice hockey important to you, Jasper?”

“Oh, fuck yeah it is. Nothing but the best!”

“And these people in your dream, are they significant in some way to you?” she asked me.

“Well, my dad for sure is. And Kurt played the part of Herb Brooks, the Olympic hockey coach in that movie Miracle. And Butchie, he’s one of my all time favorite hockey heroes. And Rogie, well, my brothers named their dog after him when they were kids. Jaeger and Lennon – I don’t know about them. No real significance that I can think of. There’s other rock stars that I like better.”

This is kinda cool. I never remembered a dream with such vividness ever before. This cocktail that they shot me up with is something else.

Joan’s making her marks on the sheet and asks me “Do you feel that because your dad was the coach that this reflects his continued control over you?

Without a second of thought I snapped “Naw, ya gotta be friggin kiddin. He’s like a best bud. Been that way for years and years.”

“Ok, continue with what you remember of this dream.”

“Well, I’m still playing in the Paris hockey game, right. I don’t know who any of my other teammates are but we’re going about the business of playing. Skating, passing, shooting, getting in position, checking, getting checked. Being winded and being exhilarated. Resting on the bench. Yelling and getting yelled at. You know regular hockey stuff.”

“Jasper, were there people or fans watching the game? Did you see them?”

I had to think for a minute on that. “No, I don’t remember anybody watching us. I don’t remember looking into the stands at all. It was all on the ice. Inside the rink, you know.”

“Ok, continue”, she said.

“I get a shift with my partner and we seemed to be caught up in some turmoil deep in the opposing zone. All five of us are along my boards and the gloves are off. The Islanders are mixing it up with us. Right now I don’t know what started it but my feelings are that it was something I did. I got one guy holding me from behind with one arm around my neck; sort of in a chokehold. And some guy with fists the size of hams just pounding the shit outta my face. In between blows I can see the guy swinging on me is Keith Tkachuk. He skates for the Blues, not the Islanders. But what the fuck – it doesn’t seem to matter. Right? Ok, so I’m just getting absolutely plastered in Paris and I can’t get a punch in even sideways, ehh. This is the part of the dream that is both exciting and scary. Scary because nobody seems to be breaking up the donnybrook and I can’t even defend myself. This is pretty bad. I can feel every blow that lands on my face. I can taste the blood in my mouth and see it running through my eyes.”

She interrupts again, “So this was pretty violent at this point?”

“Well yes,” I respond, “but normally not in real life. Just exciting there. But here in the dream I can’t use my friggin arms. Right? So that’s what’s scary. Being incapacitated is scary but the fight is just normal old time hockey – no more violent that usual – but violent yes, I guess just the same if your not used to it.”

“At this point, reaching what you describe as the scary part”, she asks, “did the dream come to a conclusion? Did it end?”

“Shit no! Rogie jumped off the bench, skated over to the fracas and straight-arm slugged the bastard that was pounding me right in the back of his neck with his blocker, smacking his head right into the jerk holding me and they both dropped like a cow drops pies. I slipped out of the whole mess, picked up the puck skated toward the slot and threw into the Islanders’ net and we won the game. Completely illegal, but I won the game, shit for sure. That’s how the dream ended. Yup. What else do ya want to know?”

Joan was marking away on her clipboard, looked at her watch and said that I’d be coming out of the drug fairly soon and we’d have to end the session with just a study of the one dream.

“You were probably trying to talk in your sleep while you were getting beat up. I’ll give this report to the clinic’s doctors and they’ll make an evaluation. It looks like you might need some psychiatric help here, though. I’d say that you’re probably nuts Mr. Wheats, but I’m only a technician and, oh my goodness, I probably shouldn’t have told you that, I guess.”

Joan was surely disturbed over that faux pas. It didn’t bother me in the littlest little bit. I kinda appreciated the acknowledgement of my disposition, ehh.

So anyway, I’m waiting for the diagnosis from the docs and whatever follow-up might be required. Patience, they say is a virtue. I can wait. And the Hon is satisfied that I had this looked into. She’s not to worried about me being nuts – as far as she’s concerned I already was when I fell for her.

Jasper here, just walking with wood again, maybe.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Hockeyweenie 2008

For gosh sakes, its Halloween, and I haven’t done shit since I last wrote a tale the week after I got out of the hospital. I’m tellin ya, I’m being a real weenie. Don’t let anybody tell ya that a coma doesn’t just fuck ya up just real good. It has been the absolute shits, like you can’t believe.

So after I wrote the last little tale for ya, I passed out for about eighteen or nineteen hours. The Hon thought that I might a slipped right back into a coma again. Worried her somethin silly I guess. Ehh? Don’t blame her, whadja expect?

All in all, they say I’m getting better. I’ve got a lot of strength to regain though. My musculature just atrophied something horrible. I lost over forty pounds while I was in the deep sleep. I look like Ichabod Crane and aged something like Rip Van Winkle in those two months.

That little chunk of my skull lodged in my left temporal lobe and the doctors decided that it would be best to leave it there rather than cause more damage trying to remove it. They said that the swelling in the area went down about two weeks after I was hit by the puck.

Motor skills seem to be ok but I have a really hard time remembering the right words to use and the names of people. The Hon said that she had to edit my last story after I wrote it and before it got published on the internet. I guess she’ll have to continue to do this – don’t know if I’ll ever get my smarts back again.

The medical folks tell me that if I’d a had the same damage on the right side that it might have put a damper on my sex drive or the reverse made me less inhibited. Far as I can tell I’m still the same old horndog that I ever was – so they must know what they’re talking about.

One thing that the Hon and Wayno noticed right away was that I always was calling Wayno as Wayno instead of D-Pity like I had always had before. It’s weird, they say, cuz only his family and people that don’t know him real well call him by Wayno. Oh, I hope I get the hang of it again.

Like I said though, it’s Halloween and the kids’ll be out trick or treating tonight if the weather holds up ok. Could snow or something before the weekend’s over. The Hon picked up some candy in case anybody comes out this far out of town, but I mainly think she’s bought it for me.

I use a walker to get around cuz I’m still feeling so damn weak. A couple of months ago I was out playing hockey with the guys and now I’m just a fool hockeyweenie. I can spit a damn site further than I can kick shit right now. I’m telling you I’m so damn far from walking with wood this very moment that if ya lined up a thousand folks for a pickup game I’m sure I’d be the very last old pucker that’d get picked.

You guys, this really sucks.

And this cabin of ours – crap-a-ninnie. It sure is heck wasn’t designed for a friggin invalid. We’ve got some nice decorative switch plates on the walls for the lights and I fumble like crazy trying to just find the switch. And our swell furniture, if I sit down on the couch I don’t hardly have the strength to get back up. I’m always yelling for the Hon to help me.

Shit, she helped down into my new basement one day and we both decided that it would be easier to get back upstairs by going outside and traversing the hill rather than using the stairs. And then when I was down there I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t get the walker into my secret tunnel to the barn. Guess I won’t be attending any meetings of the Outlaws secret Crossed Sticks Society anytime soon, ehh.

Twistin and turnin in the house and down the hallway is just a pain in the ass. We’ve just got way too much shit that needs to be rearranged. The Hon says that I can do that when I get better. Damn she makes me mad! Then she says she’s just gonna leave things the way they are to motivate me.

Motivate me! My ass!


Thank God she’s here though. I just about can do a fair job of wiping my own ass finally. But I still have to call her to help me get up off the crapper. It’s been kind embare-assing if ya know what I mean.

So, I’ve been veggin here at home in the cabin. Friends come by once in a while to check on me and try to keep me up todate. Bronzie and Stinky are running the team for me and Wayno, I mean D-Pity, comes by to watch games with me.

Sure glad it’s hockey season, ehh. The NHL has been putting games on two different channels this year, Versus and some new one on Comcast. But shit am I sick of watching the Flyers and Penguins play. It seems as though either one of those two teams are in two out of three games. My Favorite team the LA Kings have only been televised once so far in my neck of the woods. I guess I really had better quit complaining cuz beggars can’t be choosers.


Someone’s at the door and I can’t get my ass out a this chair. Probably a little Freddie Krueger or maybe Jason with his hockey mask on. Could be a George Bush or a little princess. Don’t know. The Hon’ll have to let me know.

You guys have a good time tonight, ehh!

Skate hard, stir the pot a little, and don’t get caught with your head down.

Jasper here, til next time.

(Oh, by the way – the Hon says this is just one damn depressing story – I better get better real damn quick and write something funny.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A Lert

So what’s a lert?

Sure, it’s a really stupid question that we used to ask when we were kids after Mom would tell us to be alert.

“Be a lert!” she’d scream at us.

Dabnabit. I didn’t even know what a lert was so how in the world was I supposed to know how to be one. My older sisters must have known cuz they didn’t get yelled at half as much me and my younger siblings did.

About the time that Jingles and Bronzy had started playing hockey it become sort of a family joke. She and Dad would be standing along the boards behind the fishnet and she’d yell at them “Keep your head up and be alert!” and then laugh a little or pat Dad on the back. Jingles had a habit of looking at his skates and Bronzy was usually playing with much bigger kids so the advice was not only, by then, a bit funny but also some good hockey advice.

Of course there were kids that I’ve coached and guys that I’ve played with that used another phrase of similar ilk (yeah, like I never used it myself) when appealing to a ref for his lack of a lertness – “Pull your head out Ref!!!” Kids will get a trip to the box for that shit.


Look you guys. I woke up about a week ago.

I mean, I woke up about a week ago and not from an overnight sleep. Not from a nap. Not from a lapse of attention. But, sheeesh, from a friggin ding-dang coma.

And my first bit of awareness was thoughts of Mom yelling at me to be alert.

No, she had not visited me in the hospital and said that to me in my unconscious state. She’s been up in heaven for few years now, bless her soul. But her memory and lessons live on and apparently quite heavily in my twilight subconscious.

Pretty weird, ehh? Kinda spooky if you ask me.

Does anybody have a take on this kinda crap? I’m mean, I’m sort of curious if she wasn’t, like communicating with me from the other side or something.

Your now asking, “Jasper how in the world didja end up in a freakin coma?” Right?

Well, I don’t remember any of this. It was related back to me by the good folks that have stopped by to visit since I woke up.

The medical staff said that I kind of waivered for a few hours coming out it. I moved a little vigorously they said and nodded back out. Then a bit later I moved again and wretched out of my dry throat “Honey could ya get me another cold one.”

Yup, thinking about being a lert and needing a brewski. Some would probably say that that’s just natural Wheat’s instinct – some sort of traditional family response kind of thing. I don’t know.

So the nursing aid called the honey and she came down right away. I guess I kind of waivered in and out for about a day or so. What I do remember was that the honey looked a wreck. My condition had just about put her away too.

I came home from the medical facility two days ago and can’t talk real well yet but I can punch this laptop keyboard ok I guess. (You guys wouldn’t have been able to read this if I hadn’t done some editing and typo correcting – “The Honey”) They moved me out of the hospital after about two weeks to a minimal care facility cuz of my insurance coverage. Seems as though the company I worked for went under while I was out of it. Guess they couldn’t function without me and our insurance coverage kind of went on the light side.

She’s filled me in on a lot, but so has Jingles, Bronzy, Stinky and Wayno. They were all with me when it happened.

I guess I wrote last about Wayno coming back to town, wealthier than shit. Right? Yup the dude’s for sure walking with wood. Do you recall that he had gotten better at hockey since I had last seen him? Hmmm. Let’s see, he had really sucked, but when he found me at Culla’s that night he claimed he was pretty good now, had taken lessons, been to hockey camps and had played all over the world. Ehh?

Me, being the way I am, I had taken that all with a grain of salt. But apparently the next evening, Wayno had called me at the cabin and said he had rented the rink for a couple of hours and could I get a hold of enough guys real quick like to ice some pickup. Curious about his skills, I was game and put some calls out to the Outlaws and the kids I coach on the Nightmare. I didn’t make all the calls but asked the ones I did call to call others.

At nine o’clock we had a good turn out with around twenty of us and three goalies. It was about an even split between kids and old farts so we decided skate that way. Wayno told me that those kids skated great and gave me kudos for their development. It’s not important but those kids were whooping our asses. Wayno said it was blast.

Jingles said that he was playing defense with me, he on the right and me covering left when Stinky lost the puck at the blue line on a breakout. Wayno said he was playing a sleeper out near their blue line so was completely out of the play. Stinky took a big sweeping old fart curve to get back into the play while the kid that stole the puck moved towards the boards on Jingles’ side. He passed cross ice to a kid that was just crossing into the zone. Bronzy shifted over towards him while Jingles dropped back into the right side of the high slot trying to stay with the kid that had made the pass. Meanwhile this big kid, I can’t remember any of their names (the doc said I might always have this problem now) was parked in front of our net and I was trying to move him. The kid crossing the blue line took a one-timer that Bronzy unfortunately got his shaft on. It gave it more loft with no loss of speed. The big oof in front of the net shoved back and I turned right into the slapper. The puck, apparently, hit me below my helmet on my left ear and skull as I was reacting and turning away from the shot at the last instant. It dropped me like a sack of potatoes as the puck jammed a small chunk of my skull into my brain.

I was out. I mean way out and I stayed in that fool coma for almost two months. What a weenie I’ve been, ehh.

Yup, out for two months and now awake for a week.

SHIT! What in the world did you guys let happen while I was out of it?????

Paul Newman passed away. Goodby Reggie, we'll miss you.

The NHL’s season just started for 2008/2009. That’s good.

The Republican Party’s got a hockey mom as their vice-presidential candidate. That’s good. And she’s attractive in glasses besides. That’s good again.

But what the HEY did you guys do to the economy? The honey says that our cabin and our woods are worth about half of what they were before I got bashed in the ear. And Wayno’s been working with her reviewing our savings and retirement accounts and he figures that their combined value has dropped like forty-seven percent or something in this same freaking time frame. This is so not good.

Not good! Not good! This is really bad. No job and an economy that sucks. Maybe I’m still in a coma, ehh?

Dudes and dudettes – that’s the shit that happens when you’re not being a lert!

New season, new start. Skate hard and keep your heads up, ehh!

Jasper here ‘til next time.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Well Ain't That a Damn Pity

It’s been a heck of a busy week. Work and all just kickin my ass. I hadn’t had a planned day off in over a year until I finally took a vacation day Friday, giving me a four day weekend.

Dabnabit if I didn’t deserve it. ‘Specially now as it’s coming to a close here on Monday night.

Ehh? You guys agree? Right?

OK, so it’s sort of like the end of the summer too. Just means hockey season is around the corner then. That’ll be some good shit to get that going again.

The honey and me went for pizza and beer Friday night. Went to an end of the summer country music concert in the park on Sunday and just kicked it easy today and Saturday. I tell ya, me and the honey danced our little drunken asses off this summer with those concerts in the park with some damn fine music, friends and family. Love our little cultural community if ya know what I mean.

Now, Thursday night if I didn’t have just one surprising evening.

I told the honey that I was gonna stop into Culla’s to watch the end of the game on my way home. Last of the pre-season, and the Vikings let the Cowboys take it away 10 to 16. Shit! Well they’ve got all season to make amends, ehh.

Culla’s ain’t such a bad little hole in the wall. I been going there since the ‘70’s – back when you could get a pitcher of draft for sixty cents and a pickled egg for a dime. Damn if prices haven’t changed over the years – sheeeet! To say the least. The bar had to move twice since back then due to municipal construction. But the beer’s just as damn good – same with the pickled eggs and all the new shit you can get there now.

Culla passed away a long time ago now and her grandson runs the place. He’s put in some big sports screens in three of the corners and one behind the bar – so there ain’t a bad seat in the place.

I’m basically drinking by myself tonight. I mean, I know most of the old hacks like myself in the place but usually don’t know any of the young college twerps. Their girls are sweet to look at but if the young-ons ain’t pucksters, then they got their fool heads right up their asses. (Sorry about that guys – but that’s my after-work-attitude coming through – until at least I’m juiced up or laid.)

So, I’ve got a couple a pitchers in me, several of them green eggs, peanuts, chips, popcorn, pretzels, and greasy little sausage links on toothpicks – damn If I’m not going to be foul tomorrow I’m thinkin calling this dinner. But I’ve got the vacation day, so what the hell.

Culla’s starts getting pretty filled up. I got a seat at the bar and folks are standing behind jabbering away and hooting and hollering at the appropriate times as the game goes along. Except for one fucking ass-hole who’s just saying the most inappropriate things inside of a frigging Viking’s bar. And he ain’t being none to subtle with it either. At one point when it sounds like it gets really rank I turn around and glance at the guy. He’s just some old codger like me, really tan though and wearing some sort of south-seas getup like Jimmy Buffet or something. One of the college kids is starting to give him back some “What the fuck?!?!” shit and I’m thinking here we go another damn bargument, why don’t you guys take it to the street.

Before it escalates into shoving and shit the Jimmy Buffet dude yells out over the noise of whole damn bar, “Hey Wheats, ain’t that a damn pity the way the Vikes are playing?”

Well, like I said most the old folks know me in this bar and I guess I’ve got a reputation with the young-ons too, cuz the place got real quiet. Like you could hear the TV it was so hushed.

Now what the devil? This surfer looking dude knows who I am and seems sure as shit to be calling me out. So I spin my stool around real slow like and plant my feet wide (though lopsided) getting ready to rumble. “What’s that you say ass-hole?”

“I said, “Ain’t that a damn pity….” he growled at a few decibels above a whisper as the crowd splits an opening between us.

He had one of those shit eatin grins on his face like Jingles gets when it’s time to drop the gloves. I’m guessing its one of Tidwilly’s friends from the joint – so I’m just about ready to give it a go when he says again “Damn pity!”

Wait a bloody second …… I’m thinkin again. The gears are spinning upstairs but the beer’s impeding engagement. Damn pity, damn pity, ummmm, damn pity???? What the …? Come on Jasper – I’m starting to sweat as I stand up off the barstool. What’s going on? My memory banks have peeled into overdrive. Damn pity, damn pity …. D-Pity.

Oh for goodness sake.

I shut my bad eye to get a better look at this dude and I say “Wayno Studholm?”

And he responds “Abso-friggin-lutely! At your service, Jasper Wheats, you old coon’s ass!”

We each took a step towards each and then both reached for an embrace like long lost friends will do and the bar crowd got lively again.

Dang, I hadn’t seen him twenty or thirty years. He had gone to school with me, played hockey with me and then just disappeared a year so after high school. His parents had named him Wayno Edward Studholm, but back when we were playing Midgets some wise ass on the team started calling him “Damn Pity’s Boy” and eventually just abbreviated it to “D-Pity”. And it stuck.

Wayno’s dad had been in a bad accident before then and had had some minor (I think it was minor anyway) brain damage. When he’d come watch Wayno play (oh shit and Wayno played sooooo bad) he’d always be yelling after a bad play or lots and lots of times after we’d lose a game, “Ain’t that a damn pity?”

So we back off from our man-hug and the guy in the seat next to me points at his stool and moves on.

So me and D-Pity sit down to the bar and the barmaid, Heidi, brings us a fresh pitcher on the house. I’m sure Culla’s smiling down from heaven. You know, when we were eighteen, after high school, you could legally drink around here and me and D-Pity tipped our share of brewskies while she was still pulling drafts.

Well, you can’t really get completely caught up on twenty to thirty years of living while you’re trying to get your Vikings to win a game. But D-Pity gave me his high points while I shared some of mine.

His dad had been hurt much more seriously than any of us ever knew. His lawyers had secured one hell of a hefty sum which Wayno inherited after his dad passed away about two years after we got out of high school. He’d gone off to college in the east somewhere and got a PhD in some zoological subject that nobody’s ever heard of (I’m sure of this – no way, no how, nobody’s ever …) that led him to a stint in the South Pacific and making his home for a while in Australia. But now he’s back and looking for a place to hang his hat for a long time in the back woods.

The shit is though, he asked me if I was still skatin. Said he’d been going to hockey camps for a few years now and could pretty much hold his own on the ice as opposed to his lack of skills back when we were kids.

Damn, we’ll see. D-Pity might just be walking with wood, ehh?

I’m sure there’s a story or two to pull out of his ass for you folks that read this garbled shit of mine.

Until, next time, Jasper here just tellin ya to skate hard ya roudy puckheads!

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Penalty Time-Keeper

Ya, the days are gone by where bench clearing brawls were the norm. The game of hockey has been revised considerably from the time where the sticks were up and elbows were flying. Hell, you can’t even tap a guy with your stick anymore without getting two minutes – I think that they’re calling that “hooking”.

Hell, I’ll show you “hooking” any day of the week and twice on Tuesdays.

Hockey has always been a rough sport. Lots of bruises, stitches, knocked out teeth, an occasional broken bone or dislocated joint is standard fare from a season on the ice. I’ve certainly had my fair share of injuries from playing the greatest game in the world. Lets see, this has included stitches from pucks and sticks to the face (had my lower lip completely split in half and took a stick blade to my right eyeball to name a few), broken wrist, broken humerus (that’s the upper arm bone ya noggin heads) from a cross check, torn knee cartilage, separated shoulder, and complete right hip joint replacement (my demise).

And I have played some dirty hockey too. The sin bin has been my refuge upon occasion. It is the bane of many a determined player too. You play your ass off and you still get beat in your own end; so you trip the guy to stop him from going in one on your goalie.

Was it worth it?

Ohhhhh ….. you’re damn tootin it was Olie!

So you’re doomed to the box for two minutes again. Your teammates give ya shit later for letting the guy beat ya. Yeah ya hear them say “Wheats, ya get beat on the right side every time. Ya gotta move em to your left before they cross the blue line you dumb-ass!”

What’s worse the box and maybe a missed shift or the razzing?

Fuck the razzing. It’s that missed time on the ice, baby.

Oh yeah and how about the intensity of getting a little rowdy and taking coincidentals only to jump back onto the ice and take up where the two of ya left off a couple of minutes ago? The fans love that shit, ehh?

I coach a bit ya know. I teach the kids to go in high, keeping their elbows up. Sure don’t want them skating like a damn Texas armadillo with their noses down to the ground now do ya? Keep your head up, go in hard and come out with the puck.

The worst of all penalties, though is too many men on the ice. Man, that is just a mistake to get that kinda shit-ass call. Whoever is running the bench should have to eat two donuts or something to serve that fool penalty.

Another one of my gripes is that goalies don’t serve penalties. Now to me, that is a real crock of shit. I think it would really open the game up. Ehh?

Have ya ever wondered about the guy that’s taking care of the box? In the NHL, he’s an official and has to keep track of the time and other sorts of pricy shit (that’s why ticket prices are so high – it ain’t the players’ salaries). In youth hockey this person is usually one of the parents that volunteers or is coerced into the position by the domineering team mother. In the infinite number of beer leagues out there it’s usually just an interested fan that just wants to help out – maybe loves the game but can’t play anymore – maybe never played but is the biggest wanna-be in the world. Kudos to these folks cuz they walk with wood too.

I’ve got a story to tell about the penalty box official at the tournament I played in last week. Got to play in the Snoopy games out in Santa Rosa, California. Wild Bill knew some guys down in Marshall, Minnesota that needed a couple of players to fill the roster for the over 45 team they were putting in the tournament. We decided that it’d make a fun little vacation, so we coughed up the bucks each and told the guys that we’d hook up with them out west. Wild Bill was coming down from the northwest with his wife and daughter and I’d be heading out of the back woods with my honey. All to play a minimum of three games with the Marshall Meat-Packers.

The honey and I flew into Sacramento, rented a car and drove over to Santa Rosa via Napa and Sonoma Valleys so that she could do some mighty fine (and awfully damned expensive) wine tasting. You guys know that I don’t drink the stuff (brewskies brothers – pour me another!) but if it makes her happy it makes me happy.

The Meat-Packers had made arrangements for all of us to stay at the same hotel which gave us a fair discount over normal rates – and I’ll tell you that’s awfully danged important when your staying in a hotel for over a week. Good group of folks, those Meat-Packers, though they were a little disturbed that Grain Belt wasn’t on tap at the hotel pub and that they couldn’t find it in the liquor stores either. We had a team meeting the first night to get introduced to all and lay down some strategies and shit. As I figured most didn’t play on the same team but had gathered for the tournament from a beer league in southern Minnesota. I brought a couple of cases of Moosehead to the meeting to appease their Grain Belt withdrawal. I had found it at a Bevmo liquor store that we had driven past and turned back to as we had driven over from Sacramento (sheeeet – I was looking-out for myself cuz the honey – I just knew – was gonna be really wined up). The meeting went well and it seemed like the dude, Mike, that was running the team, was afraid that we all would spend too much time in the penalty box. Warned us to play “nice” and kept referring to all of us as “ya bunch of brawlers”. The first time he used the phrase I glanced over at Wild Bill and gave him the thumbs up. Our kinda guys. Could be this whole team was composed of close relatives of the Hanson brothers, ehh?

Wild Bill and I told them that we’d prefer to play defense mainly. Bill had been a forward from my days of playing with him back a generation or so ago but had now maybe slowed down to my pace or something. I really think that he wanted to skate as my partner – which was really cool. Our first game was going to be Sunday evening and Mike said that we’d be wearing numbers 2 and 3, he’d bring the jerseys and socks.

I don’t know, but we really didn’t click in that first game. It’s about ten or twelve minutes left in the third and were down 6 to 2. Wild Bill’s playing left and I’ve got right de. The opposing team’s center whipped the puck back into my corner from the opposite side outside the blueline as their left week jammed in skating like a Junior A allstar. I turned and skated like hell to try to cut it off behind the net. Wild Bill was tracking their rightwing as he came in hard too. I realized that I couldn’t make the cutoff and turned to the slot as their center started to pick a perch high. Wild Bill must have had the same thoughts as me as we both punched to the high slot to pick this guy – both of us clobbering him full blast in an ass sandwich like the old days (got to do something to rile the old team – cuz right then we sure for shit hadn’t been skatin with wood). Oh and don’t you know it - the fuckin whistle blows.

Both of us get called for roughing ………….

Running time: three minutes each. It’s the shit!

The gate keeper at the box opens the door and Bill goes in first; swearing up a storm. I jump in and sit down with my stick out in front of me and start to take my gloves of when the dude shuts the gate and turns to us, (damn if he doesn’t look just like Ernie Rucks from the old days of skating Sunday pickup – in retirement, Ernie was an NHL goal judge down in LA and came from the Canadian north woods) oh yeah lost my train of thought there, ok so he turns to us and says “You boys ought to play nice now”, taps the right side of his nose two times with his index finger and ………….

Holy shit its cold! I look over at Bill and he’s looking back at me. What the fuck????

We aren’t in Santa Rosa anymore. Were outside and it feels like it’s about 50 below. Were standing next to the gate at a crude outdoor rink with some sort of antiquated equipment on. Our uniforms are harsh wool sweaters and socks with about twenty stripes on them. My gloves have got hardly no padding or length to them and on the jersey it says “St. Paul Hockey Club”. And my skates are pretty wobbly feeling – all leather it looks like.

In and instant, I knew it and I know Bill knew it too – that we had been somehow transported back in time. To another era, to another game. Utterly amazing. But we had a game to play and we knew that we both had to jump on the ice.

And off we went, skating our asses off playing with sticks that looked like they had been made from a single piece of wood. The game was seven on seven with a rover. Somehow we knew. It all came together in an instant. Our rover was Francis “Moose” Goheen, probably the second best if not best American hockey player of the time, next to or equal alongside of Hobie Baker. What a deal. This guy’s was from White Bear Lake, Minnesota – Herb Brooks’ hero when he was growing up. Silver medalist from the 1920 Olympics. This dude was good! And he walked with wood from one end of the ice to other. Untouchable.

I figure its got to be somewhere around 1925 based on the way the folks were dressed that were watching and the looks of cars that we could see over at the street.

Wild Bill skates across my lane and yells at me as he passes, “Jasper do you see who’s skating rover for Boston over there?”

Bewildered I look around and astonishingly realize that the visitors’ rover was none other than Bobby Orr. Damn if this ain’t something. He musta been somehow transported here from the late ‘60’s or ‘70’s. And oh, could he skate. He was made for the position of rover!

The scoreboard, being manned by a guy with a handlebar mustache, fur coat and the weirdest hat that I’d ever seen, said that we were tied at 4 to 4.

Game on kids!

The puck skittered up the boards on the rough ice to Wild Bill and he took off on a meandering journey into the opposing end. Shit he was skating damn near as good as young Moose Goheen. He got in about 40 feet out – and I could tell – he tried to take a slap shot. No dice – it couldn’t happen – the slap shot wouldn’t be invented for another forty years or so. Bill fell flat on his chest like he’d been close-lined.

Orr picked up the puck and took it behind his net to apparently regroup and eye the up-ice layout and off he went. Smoothly left, smoothly right … Goheen swooped in to cut him off and Orr just went horizontal in flight mode or something with the puck almost slipping through Moose’s skates. He kicks it forward and heads after it. Orr, still horizontal, spins in midair and takes off superman style after Goheen, sweeps in with outstretched downward angled stick and takes it off Goheen only to come back down to ice behind his own net again smooth as silk.
Orr eyes up ice again and takes off through the center. I pick him up as he cuts to the boards to my right. Again the smart bastard goes airborne to my left and picks up the puck off the boards on the other side of me. WTF! I’m all over myself and Orr’s on net. Oops, did he lose the puck on the rough ice or is it a deke. Wham – bam – thank you mamm– if he didn’t stuff it in the puck from between his own legs and he’s off flying again.

The fans start booing as Orr keeps flying around celebrating his goal but the game is different. No face off after goals – just pull the puck out and take it behind the net while everyone gets on side and take off skating again. Mr. Moose Goheen picks up the puck while Orr is still celebrating. He seems pumped, the crowd’s booing now sounds excited rather than angry. A teammate skates by and yells “Watch him now. His family calls him “Boo” and that really riles his ass!”

He weaves, he dekes, elbows out, he stiff arms one guy like a running back and goes in on net like a bull in a matador’s outfit. He’s putting a little drift to the left and I can tell he’s got it set to pull the goalie with him with quick plans to go upstairs in the right corner.

Its in my mind – I know it …. And poof – Wild Bill and I are back in the box in Santa Rosa. Ghosts of Charles Schulz or what. Damn! I look over to Wild Bill. “You go on first.” He’s white as a ghost and as the penalty box time keeper opens the gate he steps on the ice and falls flat on his face. Not realizing what happened I stumble over him as I hit the ice. Both of us out there like a big pile of shit.

Bill twists his bloodied up face back towards me and asks “Wheats, what the fuck just happened?”

“Sheeeesh! I don’t know, but we better get back in the game, ehh.”

The center that we had crunched getting our penalties stopped in front of us and tapped us each on our helmets with his stick and laughed as he said “You turkeys, ya might as well head back to Marshall and get back to that business of packing meat.”

Ya know you guys – some days ya walk with wood and some days you sure for shit don’t.

Jasper here. Skate hard! Stay out of the sin-bin ….. or not.