Thursday, May 6, 2010

83.) Interloper in the Dressing Room

Soundtrack Song - The Classic Crime, Four Chords

I hung up the phone and looked around me, trying to figure out the source of the noise. Since I was in the hallway outside the locker room and not yet fully familiar with the rink, I couldn’t tell where the noise had come from or what it even was. I chalked it up to the guys horsin’ around and left it at that. I mean, how many times did something like that happen in the Pens’ dressing room? Tons.

Taking one last deep breath to steady my nerves, I took a step toward the locker room, but my new coach spotted me as he walked down the hall from his office toward me. “There you are! I knew I saw you earlier but didn’t know where you had gotten off to. Come on, we’ll introduce you to the guys and get you out on the ice.” McLellan clapped his hand on my back and lead me into the room where all the guys were gathered, each at his stall and in various stages of changing into their gear.

I’m not gonna lie; it was incredibly intimidating to have to stand up in front of the entire room full of guys, knowing that they had lost one of their comrades in Ryane Clowe and I was an interloper in the dressing room. How was I supposed to fit in with them and play with them tonight against the Devils, with only this practice under our belt together?

Coach McLellan gave some sort of speech to the guys. I didn’t listen to it; I didn’t have to. I heard similar speeches when guys had been traded to the Pens, like when Hossa and Dupuis joined the ranks in 2008 and when Adams, Guerin, and Kunitz came on board in 2009. It was the same thing: blah blah blah, the team is moving forward, blah blah blah, treat him like he’s been here all year, blah blah blah.

This time, though, since I was the subject of the talk, I got a whole new perspective on being traded. When I was the one sitting in my stall looking at the new guy, I didn’t really consider how nerve-racking it was to be put on display and judged. When I was the one listening to the speech, I had sat there and looked at the new guy, wondering what was so great about him that he was worth trading for, worth giving up one of my friends and teammates for. Now I was the guy standing in the middle of the room with the coach praising me and saying how I was going to help lead them to the Cup, all eyes on me, with everything to prove.

Like I wasn’t already nervous.

When he finished talking—and it felt like he had talked for forever—I slunk to my new stall and, since I was already in my Underarmour, began to get my pads and other gear on. I noticed that I was sitting next to Marc-Édouard, or “Pickles” as Blake had told me he’d been christened by the team, and I relaxed a little bit. They must have wanted me to be comfortable, so they put me next to another French-speaker.

Even putting on my equipment felt different. My pads were the same, of course, but my pants, gloves, and helmet were different because I wasn’t wearing black and Vegas gold anymore. Now I had solid black hockey pants, instead of with a golden stripe down the sides of the legs. My new gloves, too, were solid black from Easton. But the good news was that I could still wear my number, fifty-eight. At least not everything had to change.

There wasn’t much talking going on, though. At least not between me and anyone else. It always takes a few days for a new guy to mesh in with the team. The best way for me to prove to the guys that I belonged there was to show them that I could contribute.

Jo’s words echoed in my head. She was right; all I had to do was go out and there and do what I always did. I didn’t have do anything else other than play my game like I usually did—because I had been traded for exactly what I always did on the ice. I just had to play my game, it was as simple as that. How could I have gotten so caught up in the drama to forget to play for Luc? Yeah, I missed Jo and wished that she was here or that I was there, but I couldn’t forget that I had a bigger purpose.

I finished getting my gear on, and then I grabbed my gloves, helmet, and stick, following the line of guys toward the door and to the runway. Like I usually would do, I took a quick little jump over the lip of the door and stepped out with my left skate to take a long stride onto the ice to begin laps. Except I skidded and the force of my push off caused me to faceplant right on the ice.

Pushing myself into a sitting position, I checked my skates. Clear poly tape on the blades. “Fuck,” I moaned, throwing off my gloves and carefully peeling away the tape.

“Welcome to the team, Letang,” Blake laughed as he skated by, and the rest of the guys likewise passed by me and chuckled.

When I got all the tape, I got back to my feet and did a few laps as the coaches joined us on the ice. I did my best to follow instructions, I skated hard and fast, and I ran through each drill like game seven depended on it. I listened to every word the coaches said like it was gospel, and I watched the way that Blake and Pickles, Murray and Boyle ran through their drills so I could mimic them when it was my turn to go with Husky, my new partner. We talked when we weren’t skating so we could learn the way each other played and know our tendencies. Sure, there were still some kinks that would need to be worked out, but we seemed to have some chemistry that would help us out. Either I just really worked well with my new teammates, or the scouts were beyond perfect at their jobs and new I’d fit in so well.

When the skate was finished, I felt drained and exhausted—but it was a good brand of exhaustion, the kind that you get from fully pushing your body until your brain shuts off and focuses solely on the physical, and you hit that post-workout euphoria. I knew that I probably should taken it a little easier, since we had a game, but no one can say I didn’t leave it all out on the ice.

The coaches seemed impressed enough, and after an hour we filed off the ice and back into the dressing room. Some reporters came in to conduct some interviews, and I was surprised at the amount of microphones in my face. I expected to be interviewed, of course, about the trade and what I thought about it and what I thought I could accomplish with the Sharks. But I hadn’t thought that this many people would crowd around me. With cameras.

I gave them staple answers and said that I was looking forward to playing with the team, that it was going to be a challenge to adjust to the physicality of the Western Conference but it was a challenge I was looking forward to taking on, and that kind of stuff. They asked how the skate went, how I fit in with my new teammates—especially with Huskins, my new partner. “Felt good to skate with the team and with Husky, and we’re just gonna have to talk and communicate on the ice. I’m just looking forward to playing some hockey, and hopefully I can help the team get a win tonight.”

After the media were kicked out, we showered, dressed, and Blake told me to be back at the arena at four, for team meetings and video sessions to watch game tape, because I could probably contribute more to their scouting of the Devils since the Pens faced them more often, being in the Eastern Conference and all. I just nodded, not telling them that the Pens had been unable to win a game against New Jersey so far this season, because I was more familiar with them as a team even if we couldn’t beat them.

Blake began to walk away from me, but I called after him, “Oh, uh, hey Blake?” He turned and looked at me, waiting for me to ask whatever question. “You got any recommendations for places to eat around here?” I couldn’t exactly cook a pregame meal in my hotel room, and the place didn’t have room service. The location may have been nice, but I’d definitely have to switch to a place with better—or at least more—amenities.

He opened his mouth to answer me, but Pickles put a hand on my shoulder and grabbed my attention. “You can come out with me and some of the guys.”

“Great,” I replied. It was good that I wouldn’t have to spend more time alone, and that I’d get to bond more with some of my teammates. Like killing two birds with one stone. Sometimes, the chemistry is there, but sometimes you needed to create some. To be honest, I was already looking forward to going out on a road trip with these guys, because that would force us to bond.

“The guys” turned out to be all the young players on the team, like Vlasic, Staubitz, Couture, McGinn, Demers, Mitchell, and Setoguchi. There were eight of us heading into Original Joe’s, which was just a few blocks from the Tank. The wait staff of the restaurant immediately recognized the guys and got to work on pushing a couple of tables together and ushered all us toward the back.

They were all nice and talkative, asking me questions and including me in on the conversation while keeping the hockey talk to a minimum. Right now, they were just making me feel like one of the boys, like I was one of their friends to goof around with instead of a teammate. We chatted about music, video games, and movies—all the things that occupy our time since we’re on the road so much.

I ordered pasta, steak, and salad, which was all usual food for my pregame meal. After I ordered and handed my menu to the waitress, I couldn’t help but think that if I were back playing in Pittsburgh, Jo and I would be boiling the water for the pasta and I’d be grilling the steak. It was a Tuesday, so she’d be home from class, and if I’d ask her sweetly enough, she’d join me in our bedroom for my afternoon nap.

Just as I was thinking about her, I felt my phone vibrate in my pocket. Now that the waitress had taken our orders and walked away, they were ogling her and making comments, meaning they didn’t notice as I read my text message from Jo: Ain’t no other man, Christina Aguilera.

I only had a single-word response for her: What?

As I waited for her to respond, I stared at my phone and concentrated completely on it. Somewhere in the background, the guys continued their conversation, but I wasn’t listening to it. I didn’t hear Ginny say, “Look at the way that fuckin’ slut walks, shakin’ her ass at us. Bet I could have her bent over in five minutes.”

“Yeah, but why would you want to? I can tell, she likes to talk. She wouldn’t shut up to even listen to our damn orders, so you know she’d want to cuddle and talk afterward,” Demers countered in an accent thicker than mine.

My phone vibrated again and I quickly opened the message. Listen to it. Reminds me of U, babe. ;)

“Dude, that’s why you make her take you back to her place. Then you can leave before she opens her mouth,” McGinn replied, like he had all the answers.

“Or you just put your dick in it again,” Couture laughed loudly. “Letang knows what I’m talking ’bout, right man?”

Smiling to myself, I slid my phone back into my pocket. Could Jo and I possibly have some sort of psychic connection? Seemed like every time I was thinking of her, she called or texted me—and vice versa. Then I realized the guys were all looking at me, waiting for some type of response. “Uh, what?” I asked sheepishly, caught not paying attention to them.

“The waitress,” he told me, like I should have known.

“Oh, sorry, what about her?” I asked again, trying not to look rude or like I was ignoring them.

“Nothin’, man, where’s your head at?” Pickles questioned, looking at me suspiciously.

I felt my cheeks burn a bit. Here they were, being nice enough to include me in their excursion, and I was being ungrateful. I should have been focusing on team bonding, not on Jo—it was my job, after all, on the line. “My girlfriend texted me, that’s all.”

They all responded with a symphony of groans, the occasional phrase being spoken over their hearty disapproval: “Ugh, girlfriend,” “Ball and chain, man,” and “whipped!”

Pickles shook his head, but he was smiling. “She come with you?”

“No,” I sighed.

“Good!” Mitchell threw in his two cents. “Leave her at home. You’re in Cali, now, and the chicks out here are fine as fuck and sluttier than a sorority pledge after shot-gunnin’ a few beers.”

“Uh...” I tried to think of something to say to that, but I completely blanked. First of all, I thought that that was pretty disrespectful in general, but second, I wasn’t sure if he was implying that I would or should cheat. “I’m pretty sure my girl would irrevocably maim me or prevent me from ever being able to father children if I was caught within five feet of a, uh, what’d you say? A ‘slutty sorority pledge.’”

They grumbled something again, this time about how I was being lame. It felt like being in a room with a bunch of Max Talbots. All I did was shake my head with a smile; there was no point in arguing with them. If being with Jo meant being “lame,” then I was fine with that. I wouldn’t mind being lame with her all night long.

Couture chuckled. “Yeah, if my girlfriend she ever found out about my puck fucks on speed dial, she would rip off my balls and then shove them so far down my throat that I’d shit them. But, you know, that’s why she stays up in Guelph.”

I was a little taken aback by his open admission of being a cheater. How could a guy do something like that to someone he was supposed to care about? If he didn’t love her enough to be faithful, then he should have had the decency to just break up with her rather than cheat on her. I never could understand why anyone could that was acceptable behavior.

Besides, my mother raised me to have more respect for other people than that, and instilled in me the morals to know that cheating’s wrong. And if there was one thing that I learned from my experience in my family, it was that women deserved respect, and certainly more respect than these guys were doling out.

Women aren’t delicate creatures. My mother had endured a lot of hardships in order to take care of me and help me live my dream, and even Jo was teaching me the strength of human character. But just because women were tough and capable of survival of the fittest, that didn’t mean that they had to be treated like dirt or forced to be so tough. I wanted to take care of the important women in my life and protect them from ever having to go through that.

And finally, simply put, I wasn’t an idiot. I’d never do a thing to hurt the girl who trusted me with her heart. I’d never do anything that would hurt Jo. Not only would it have been a waste of the time and effort it took to get her to open up to me and effect this journey of self-realization in her, which I was especially proud of helping her with, but it would have been throwing away the love we shared. She’d already said she trusted me to do the right thing, and of course I would.

But I kept my mouth shut. There were so many things that I could have said. I could have said that I was strictly a one-woman man, always was and always would be. I could have explained that I was man enough to be the best boyfriend I could possibly be to a girl who deserved someone’s total admiration—and that I was merely lucky enough to be tasked with that. Let’s face it: Jo was someone who was quick to share her opinions and distaste for something, but only reluctantly made you earn her heart and trust; I had earned it, and I was going to treasure it. Or I could have told them that maybe, yeah, I was a little scared of the way Jo would react if she even suspected infidelity from me while I was out in California.

Even so, I didn’t say any of those things. I didn’t want to put any of them off by telling them how insensitive they were being. They were grown men who didn’t need to be lectured, even though they could use some sense knocked into them. Telling them that they were wrong was only going to annoy them, and then we’d have that much more trouble developing chemistry and playing together.

So as difficult as it was for me to step away from the soapbox, I did metaphorically walk away. And changed the subject. “So, uh, tell me about the stuff there is to do in the area?”

“Nothin’ you’d be interested in, Letang,” Mitch said while rolling his eyes. “Not if you don’t have a wandering eye.”

“I can still go out,” I told them. I didn’t want them to think that I was criticizing them, even though I kind of was. They were still my new teammates and it was our job to get along and play well together; besides, there were things some of my friends on the Pens did that I went along with for the sake of conformity and team spirit. As long as I wasn’t forced to do anything I considered to be wrong, we’d be fine. “Besides, when Jo comes to visit, she’ll wanna go out. Might as well scope out the scene before she gets here.”

“Oh yeah, Bowlby said something about having the couples out to his place for that,” Couture mentioned. “He even asked if I wanted to invite my chick down for it. Yeah right! She can stay in Ontario.”

“Bowlby?” I felt so out of the loop.

“Blake,” Pickles explained, practically acting as my interpreter or guide. “It’s his middle name, we call him that because it annoys him.” Then he spoke to the whole group. “Yeah, he mentioned something like that to me, too. Hell, I’d go just to see if the mysterious niece is there.”

Guch spoke up for the first time in a while. “Yeah, I know. Still haven’t met her or seen her. Anybody heard anything else about her?”

The guys all shook their heads. I had to ask, “I don’t get it. What’s the big deal about her?”

Pickles took it upon himself to explain. “Samantha’s supposed to be Brandy’s sister’s kid. All we’ve ever heard about her is shit we’ve overhead when Bowlby talks to Brandy on the phone. Apparently, there was some trouble up in Simcoe with her, and Brandy’s sister was at her wit’s end and didn’t know what to do with her. So Brandy and Bowlby offered to take her in to try to give her a fresh start. But none of us have met her. She never comes around to the games or the arena when there’s the family stuff, and anytime any of us have been over to their house, they say she ain’t there. Really, we’re starting to wonder if she actually exists. We don’t know anything else about her.”

I reflected on the situation. I hadn’t seen any pictures when I was over the Blakes’ for dinner the day before, or any other indication that any one lived there other than the immediate Blake family. Blake just said his niece-in-law was staying with them, and that he couldn’t put me up because of it. I told them that.

Demers laughed at me. “Mon Dieu, you’re gullible. He just told you that because he didn’t want you staying in his house.”

We all laughed, the tension from our earlier conversation dissipated. Our orders came, we ate, and they talked. I mostly just listened to avoid stepping on any toes, especially when the waitress came back with our collective check. “Here ya go, boys. I’ll take it whenever you’re ready. Have a good game tonight, and we’ll see you again soon,” she said with a wink.

The guys shared a look and all quickly stood, mumbling and practically running out the door—leaving me with the check. Welcome to the team, Letang.

I paid; there was no point in yelling after them. I was the new guy, so I should have expected this. Damn, but at least last year with the Pens, there were three of them. Adsy, Billy G, and Kuni got stuck with the team bill to split three ways. But then again, I was only stuck with a bill for eight, for a pregame meal, rather than the whole team’s dinner tab. That would suck.

My body felt tired from the effort I gave on the ice this morning, so I took a taxi back to my hotel. I stripped down to my boxers and crawled into bed, setting my alarm for a two-hour nap. Before I let myself fall asleep, though, I texted Jo to let her know I was napping. I’m not even sure why I did that other than I missed having her involved in the different facets of my day. She didn’t send a message back, which I knew was because she didn’t want to disturb me if I were, in fact, sleeping.

Feeling energized upon waking up, I tried to keep to my routine as much as I could, pretending like this was a road game. I dressed in my suit and headed to the arena, and received a message from Jo. She knew my routine and factored in the time difference to know when to wish me good luck in my first game and make sure I got the text.

Then I watched tape with the team, and meditated at my stall. Maybe I wasn’t back in Pittsburgh where I wanted to be, but I was lucky enough to still be playing hockey with a group of guys who had welcomed into their dressing room. I couldn’t let myself forget that; I had to stay grounded. I had to remember that I was playing for Luc and not just myself and stay focused on that while I was here, when that was all I had to keep me going.

We ended up losing the game. At the end of the second, we were down by three; the Devil’s scored their fourth to start the third. But we tried to stage a comeback. Setoguchi scored two and Pavelski the other—I even assisted on Guch’s first—but we couldn’t get another to tie the game. It sucked to lose, and as I stripped out of my new, deep Pacific teal jersey at the end of the night, I wondered what it would have took to get a win.

What if I had had more practice time with the team? Or what if I had played on the power play? Would have I been able to contribute more? Was I still jet-lagged? Would having more time to rest and get used to the time difference have made a difference? Or what if I hadn’t pushed myself so hard at the morning skate? Had I exhausted myself to my own detriment?

Although the guys were disappointed because of the loss, the mood in the dressing room wasn’t so bad. After all, we had almost come back to tie it and take it into overtime.

“You wanna come out with us, Letang?” Pickles asked, as he slid his wrist over his hand and then grabbed his wallet and phone to slip into his pocket.

I checked the time on the clock. It was eleven thirty here, meaning it was two thirty back in Pennsylvania. It was possible that she was still up; not only did she work after the Pens game, but she was a night owl. Or, quite possibly, she was staying up and hoping I’d call. “Uh, no, I’m pretty beat. Think I’ll just head back to my hotel.”

“Afraid we’ll get you into trouble, Letang?” Couture asked, stopping in front of me. I was pretty sure he was joking around.

Smiling back at him, I replied, “No. I’m afraid you’ll stick me with the bar tab.” That cracked up the players around us.

“We’re just gonna grab some grub,” McGinn clarified, running a hand through his still-damp hair.

I shook my head. “Honestly, I’m just tired. I think I’m still on east coast time.”

“Practice tomorrow at eleven. See you at ten,” Blake said, partly to me and partly to the rest of the young players around me who I could tell were all itching to get out. They silently rolled their eyes and stifled their groans. “If you’re going back to your hotel, Letang, I’ll drive you.”

“Thanks, man,” I accepted. I made sure to have all my things.

“We need a better nickname for you,” Pickles commented as we headed for the exit. “Letang’s not gonna cut it for the rest of the season.”

Shrugging, I said, “Well, I usually go by Tanger.”

“Tanger,” he repeated, looking like he was chewing the word and tasting it. Apparently, it was bitter. “Eh, it’ll do for now. But we can think of something better.”

We said our adieus, and Rob drove me back to the Alameda. I turned to thank him as I reached for the handle of the door, but he spoke first. “Brandy wanted to throw a little get-together for you when your girlfriend comes out. As a way to kind of officially welcome you to the team and bring her into the WAGs.”

I nodded, just imagining how much Jo was gonna enjoy that—as in, she wasn’t going to enjoy it all. It had been painful just trying to get her to hang out with Heather and Kelsey at first, and I never was actually able to get her to participate in any of the events like the Toys for Tots collection or Pens and Pins. She hadn’t been interested in it initially, and then she started school and had enough on her plate that I didn’t want to add to it. I just knew that she was not going to be thrilled.

“All right, well, I’ll let her know. Thanks for the ride, man.”

Once back in my room, I slipped out of my suit jacket and loosened my tie and messaged Jo: Awake? By the time I was out of my shirt and pants, she was calling me.

“Hey, Jo.”

“Congrats on your first point as a Shark,” she yawned. “I’m so proud of you.”

I chuckled. “Thanks. You sound pretty tired.”

“Nope.” I could hear in her voice that was stifling another yawn.

“Did I wake you up?”

“No.” When I didn’t respond right away, she changed her answer. “Maybe.”

“I’ll let you get back to sleep then.” I lay down on my back on the bed, crossing my legs at the ankle and putting my free hand behind my head. “I don’t wanna keep you up.”

“No,” Jo whined. “I wanna talk to you. We didn’t really get to talk much this morning. Tell me how it all went.”

“Morning skate went well, had my pregame meal with some of the guys on the team. They made me pay,” I laughed. “And you heard about the game, I take it.”

“Mmhmm.”

“Listen, Jo, you’re tired....”

She whined again, “No. Miss you. Wanna talk to you.”

I smiled, our roles flip-flopping from yesterday. “How about I just talk until you fall asleep?”

“’Kay.”

Now was a good time as ever to tell her about the initiation into the WAGs, while she was too tired to argue too much. “Well, everyone’s kind of excited to meet you....”

11 comments:

  1. Hmm, it seems like Blake's mysterious niece is a bit troubled. I hope Kris doesn't try to help her, cause well last time he did that we know what that blossomed into. ;)
    Can't wait for Jo and Kris to be reunited! :)

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  2. Man, I love when you update!!1 Let me just say from the start, my intuition isn't favorable for Brandy's niece, Samantha. She. is. trouble. At least that's what I'm thinking. Thanks for the update!!!


    -elle

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  3. I'm soooo curious about this freaking neice!!

    I'm glad Kris seems to be getting along with all this teamates, although a few of the young guys do seem like trouble! It's odd having him with other players I find myself going "who is that guy" then it dawns on me oh yea he aint with Pittsburgh anymore. THANKS A LOT JAY.
    Just kidding : )

    I can't wait for Jo to come..
    Oh and is Kris ever gonna leave or upgrade to a better hotel?!
    Loving it as always<3

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  4. I agree with the first person who posted (about Kris helping out the niece).

    I'm so nervous that Kris is going to do something to mess up his and Jo's relationship.
    You're killing me here :(

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  5. I just love the guy talk stuff, I'm not sure why but it just feels like I'm getting insights into this whole secret world. I really like this line:

    “Good!” Mitchell threw in his two cents. “Leave her at home. You’re in Cali, now, and the chicks out here are fine as fuck and sluttier than a sorority pledge after shot-gunnin’ a few beers.”

    It's just funny in that totally piggish guy way.

    Seems like Kris will just have to find the guys he's comfortable with and not hang out with the total horndogs. I can't believe you've researched a whole other team, you amaze me as usual.

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  6. Jay, what are you DOING to me!

    If Kris gets all `I need to help her` with Stephanie I can`t promise I won`t start throwing things at my screen. I mean you make it pretty clear that Kris would never do that to Jo and I think his track record thus far in the story would suggest that he is far too in love with her, and far too scared of being like his dad and hurting women that he wouldn`t cheat on her or even consider that. But, Jo has dealt with a lot of shit in the way of people leaving, and she is doing such a great job being with and trusting Kris. I can see the couples dinner when she comes down and Stephanie turning into a huge problem. Like maybe she sees something that isn`t really there, etc.

    I guess I could figure the same thing with Dave and Jo, but I don`t even know if Kris knows about her `hang outs` with Dave yet. I am sure that is a discussion to come in the future. I know Jo and Kris trust and love each other, but one of the hardest tests of a long distance relationship is trusting that other person and I know they both do, and are deserving of that trust, I can just see misunderstandings leading to problems.

    As for the Sharks. First of all, the team banter was fantastic. Especially because, while I am not going to feign that I know him on any level, I partied through high school and university A LOT with the 67s (my friends like hockey players, and I wasn`t complaining) including Couture, so it is funny to see him in a story. I am kind of disappointed Kris didn`t go out with the guys though. I feel like it would have been good for him, remember what I was saying a couple updates about their relationship turning into a crutch and all... Jay, don`t do that to me.

    Ahh, I have no idea what I am rambling about. They are too cute. And I heart Christina Aguilera. haha.

    And, that is the end of today`s rant.

    ah-ha I forgot, the tape on the skates/"welcome to the team" was perfect. It reminded me of the OC when there is that fight on the beach and Ryan gets punched in the face and he's all... "Welcome to the OC, bitch" just much more lighthearted or friendlier. Haha, maybe it's nothing like that at all, but that's what I thought of. haha.

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  7. Ahhhh I forgot. It probably wouldn't be a big deal for Kris to help Stephanie, obviously he is good at what he does, if he wasn't so damn dreamy and perfect. I mean, she'll see Kris all swoonworthy about Jo, and he's hot and he is completely oblivious to when girls are hitting on him, which he has exemplified so many times in this story. Ugh, I am just, trying to figure out where your going with this. Am I close? hahahaha.

    Okay, this is the ACTUAL end of my ranting.

    Update soooooon!

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  8. K-- it's Samantha not Stephanie. and what hangouts between Jo and Dave are you talking about? Because Jo has made sure to do nothing with him beyond speaking to him in the lounge... and I doubt that would make Kris jealous. Jo needs friends, people to distract her from the temporary loss of Kris and Tubby in her life. Jo is more than capable of being friends with a guy without developing a romance.. and I doubt Kris would have any gripes about that in the first place.

    Either way, the first person makes a good point.
    I think Kris's 'needing to help someone' instincts will kick in.. it would be hard for any girl not to be attracted to Kris just cause he's so gorgeous. But if he was attentive and sensitive and helpful on top of that, well...
    Anyway, I hope Anonymous 1 and I are thinking too much into this cause I've grown attached to Jo and Kris together.

    PS. Jay, let me preface this and say I love your story and writing abilities, but the one thing I think you could have less of is the internal ramblings of Kris and Jo. Sometimes they're insightful into the reasoning behind their actions, but other times it just seems repetitive. Anyway, my two cents.

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  9. Jay, I loved the internal ramblings - they give the characters depth and it's interesting to see the development of their thought process. I laughed at the skates, I cringed in places, and I hope that the niece is no trouble. Bring on Jo going to SJ!

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  10. It took me awhile to read this because I had to go to the Sharks web site so I could check out Kris's new teammates. I'm so glad there's no 58.

    Now that I've checked them out Kris should be a big hit there, because he is a lot better looking than they are. I know that's not fair, the Pens pictures don't do them justice either!

    I think the reason no one has met Samantha is Blake knows those guys are douches and doesn't want them close to her. lol

    I love how Kris is thinking about what it's like to be the new guy. I feel we get real insight about all the changes and difficulties he's experienced in the last day.

    So sweet when he sent her the text about his pre-game nap. Love the song she sent him.

    A couple of favorite lines:
    “I’m pretty sure my girl would irrevocably maim me or prevent me from ever being able to father children if I was caught within five feet of a, uh, what’d you say? A ‘slutty sorority pledge.’”


    If being with Jo meant being “lame,” then I was fine with that. I wouldn’t mind being lame with her all night long.

    Amazing as always!

    When I was reading the boxscore for the Sharks/Red Wings game last night I looked to see how many minutes Kris played. It only took me a nanosecond to realize my mistake.
    I am a total nutcase about this story!

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  11. Hahah, I loved the ending! The best way to break news to someone is when they are pliant and sleepy!

    I know you said that you don't want to be predictable and so far you're not but I wonder about this niece girl. She sounds like a replica of Jo in that she is working through stuff and you know Tanger, he can't pass up helping a fallen baby bird. So I wonder. I hope it's all platonic and that nothing happens but we'll see. I could be overthinking this whole thing and nothing is going to happen.


    I am super curious to find out whether or not Tanger remains a Shark or not. It just seems so wrong to have sweet, innocent Letang stuck on a team full of cheating assholes.

    Great update!

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