Last night I got an invitation to go see the Oilers play the Senators, who I originally thought were from Ottawa but surprisingly, they sang the Star Spangled Banner for them so either they were a US team or Ottawa is a lot fonder of the US than I realized. The tickets were available because the Rogers Wireless hosts that own the stadium provided comp tix to us on the Emerald Foundation Board. The other board members said it would be a crappy game so, the Executive Director Carmen and I, the eternal optimists, took the tix. In no time at all, there was ole’ Lee sitting in the Roger’s Box surrounded by free booze, popcorn, pizza, and dishes of pierogis, spaghetti, cheese plates, fruit and a bunch of nice beautiful sports-loving people. Attractive hostesses whisked away dirty plates and brought more drinks. A couple of people ignored the ice and watched on the big screen set up in the penthouse which baffled me — why not stay at home in your slippers? In all truth though and hockey aside, I would have attended for the food alone.
Now for your information, although I grew up in Louisiana and never ice skated, I have been to three professional and two College -level hockey games before so I actually know something about the sport. The gist of is that between fights and advertisements they run the puck up and down the ice trying to hit it into the other guys net, so yes, I know the basics. Some rules like icing and a few of the penalties are still as baffling as a mango seed. Oh, yes, I also like the Zambonis.
I plopped down next to Carmen and some big fellow named Glen. We were chatting amiably and as I noshed I volunteered my insights on hockey and expounding on some of the finer points of the game. I admitted to longing for the blue puck-streak marter so we wouldn’t always lose the confounded thing. As a university professor I strongly believe in sharing my expertise. It is what I do.
Around the second quarter I could tell Glen had absorbed about as much as he could for one day because the affable fellow had gotten quiet. Just then a svelt but bulgy cheerleader-looking lady in Oiler regalia sat down and made a fuss over something and then squealed “GLEN! the Rings!”. I thought there might be one of those impromptu weddings so I suspended my extended hockey lecture and prepared to photograph the event. Surprise of surprises, he reaches in his vest pocket and pulls out a ring. Then another and another . . . 10 huge gold and diamond-encrusted rings that she slipped on all of her fingers. Then they passed the rings around while I watched the Oilers score a couple more baskets.
Figuring he was a Hells Angel or a rap artist, I finally ask Carmen “Who is that dude anyway?” She said he was some ex-hockey player that used to play with Wayne Gretsky a lot. Gretsky — now there is a player I had actually heard of because he has a restaurant in West Edmonton Mall! I took a photo of Carmen with the ring bundle and suggested we skip out on the $52,000 in the 50/50 draw and just make a run for it with all those Stanley Cup rings.
I eventually got a roped into a photo with Glen too. Anyone know who the hell he is? I can say, he is now well schooled from my running narrative on all the mistakes the Oilers were making by shooting the puck into the corners where their poor skating skills meant they kept running into the opposing team members, sometimes even crashing into the glass! I suggested they scurry that little puck thing over to the basket instead, but they just never seemed to learn!
Glen left at the end of the second quarter. I figure he had probably absorbed all the instruction from me he could handle for one night but I hope to provide a second lesson for him at some point in the future. Also, if he ever plays in the old timers games, I hope he remembers all the stuff I taught him! Oilers won 4 to 1 but it seemed mostly by accident. It could have been better if they had gone into extra innings so I could continue mauling the brie and crackers and maybe had a second cherry cheesecake dessert.