Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Dublin Man Hits The Ice or How Kevin Dodd Found The Core of The Canadian Onion

In June of 2006 just as the Oilers were getting ready to take on the Hurricanes, three young men from Dublin came to Toronto to have training with our company. For two weeks they worked and then for the final week of their stay they hung out in the city.

Two of them were in their early twenties, the third about five years older. Terrific guys, all three of them, and they spent their time in Canada with the enthusiasm particular to young folks. Every night and weekend was spent doing something.

Of course I misspeak because when I was in Dublin in February of last year every moment not at work was also spent out and about. So never mind that earlier comment.

They did some touristy stuff and they did a lot of things that I have not done here in twenty years, kayaking in Lake Ontario, for example. They went out nearly every night and they went to the Falls and they did hot yoga. They came to my place for supper twice and afterwards we went to The Communist Bar for pints. On June 17th they arrived at Paupers (by the time they arrived the Oilers had the game well in hand) and when the joyous crowd roared they roared with us and afterwards we poured out into the warm night and down to the Cloak and Dagger and later into Parkdale until there wasn’t much left to us but sweaty grins after all the pints we drank.

They got to experience Toronto the way any city should be experienced, hand in hand with the locals. I was talking to a neighbour a few months ago about travelling and I compared it to an onion. The first time you go somewhere you’re seeing the outer layer. When you return a second time then you delve a little deeper and so it goes, you peel back a layer and each time you find something new and a little more interesting.

Certainly my trips to Dublin have followed this pattern. My first trip my wife and I went to the museums and the art galleries and the historical places of note. We walked about the southern side of the Liffey and we went to the Brazen Head and a few other famous pubs. We had a fine time but of course we had just scratched the surface. My second time there I stayed with one of the lads and saw fair Dublin from another side. Old dark pubs and a trip to Howth, dinners and roaming back streets and crooked alleys and drunken nights out with the Irish and a packed pub cheering on the national side in a Six Nations match at Croke Park and many hours on both sides of the Liffey just doing a wander.

A trip to remember.

Once again though I need to apologize because the whole onion comparison really makes no sense. Its not like once you have peeled back each layer of an onion, once you find the core, that you will find something delightful, like Liz Phair or a sandwich or a clitoris or a pint of stout.

You’re just going to find more onion.

Yet one of the lads found that core, the Canadian experience, something that he likely shares with, I would say, maybe a dozen of his countrymen, if that.

The men from Dublin got right into the Oilers’ run, most nights out they saw the games on TV and of course they knew that I was right into it. One of the guys had played roller hockey back home and had been ‘ice skating’ a few times in Dublin. At the time Capsule’s summer season had been in swing for a little while and actually the third day they were in country I hobbled in, recovering from the game the night before. We got to talking and he asked if it would be possible for him to get a game in with us.

Now I was skeptical given his pedigree and I certainly did not want his blood on my hands but I told him that I would check and the guy who runs our team said that he would be fine if he came out and dressed and skated around with us in the warmup. If he could actually skate then he might get a shift or two but he’d likely be parked on the bench.

Kev said he was alright with this and so I arranged for one of the guys who was going to be out of town to get me his equipment and we were all set.

We went to Bill Bolton on the Tuesday evening, this is a tiny little arena surrounded by a neighbourhood just north of Bloor Street, you park on the street, its tucked away amongst the century old brick homes and the gigantic trees. The arena is generally the temperature that it is outside and that night it was warm, as it was most of that June. The Irishman opened the bag in the tiny dressing room and stared for he had not the foggiest idea as to where he should start and so we instructed him on how to dress himself. As gametime approached it soon became clear that we were going to be short guys, that with the Dubliner we would have nine skaters, enough for two lines and three blueliners. As we heard the Zamboni rumble on its rounds our captain looked over.

Well, he said, if you can skate at all then you’re going to get to play half the game.

And when we got onto the ice it became clear that he could skate a little. And so away he went.

Luckily the team we were playing was quality but not over the top. It was a reasonable game, we lost five to two I believe, something like that and Kev did alright once he figured out where to line up on faceoffs (his first draw he was out for he was on the wrong side of the dot) and what an offside was (the first time one of our guys headed up ice with the puck he charged ahead of him excitedly, making a beeline for the net). We were killing ourselves laughing but the refs and the opposing squad were trying to figure out where we got the grown man who was playing like he had just joined the local Tykes team.

In the end he survived and he even got an assist, pushing the puck to one of our lads who stepped over the blueline and fired a shot that their goalie badly misplayed. Afterwards, as we peeled off our gear, he thanked all of us and remarked on how incredibly fit we were, that he was dying on his feet. Considering that he was 22 and was one of the fittest people I have ever seen and that we were who we were we all got a kick out of that.

And over pints afterwards in the pub around the corner from the rink he thanked me for one of the best times that he had ever had and what was, for him, the highlight of his trip here.

He'd found the heart of the onion.


Patrick O'Sullivan tore up the AHL a few years back and put up a pretty reasonable season for the Kings two years back but missing training camp last season seemed to send him off the rails and when he came to the Oilers at the deadline the early rejoicing at a slick deal for twenty games of Erik Cole was soon replaced by a 'here we go again' sinking feeling as O'Sullivan, like so many before him, arrived in Edmonton with pedigree but never got untracked. He looked lost for every one of his games as an Oiler and so his season, like most of his new teammates, ended in disappointment. In the summer whenever the future of the Oilers was discussed he was an afterthought, future tradebait more or less.

Along with Penner, Smid and Brule, O'Sullivan has been one of the early surprises for the Oilers this season and he seems to be getting better game after game, by my eye. He is what I like to call a player, like Gilbert, he just knows his way around the ice by my eye. He's not perfect, of course, but with a little bit more luck (at least two posts so far) he'd have four goals and he's just under a point a game. He has helped shore up what was a miserable PK. He can skate and he can win the puck battles and he's a playmaker and he doesn't stay on the perimeter and both his setup of Penner against No Longer Wild on Jack Lemaire and his goal against the Canucks came after getting up after getting knocked about a little so he's showing something in that department as well.

Its early early still but he's playing with quite a bit of confidence and one expects that he will either find his way to Hemsky's line or he will form the basis of a nice line to do some damage to the soft minutes, maybe along with Penner and Gagner.

Good stuff and good for the little man who had a pretty tough go of it as a kid.


Puck Money said...

Uggh, sorry but the onion simile is actually from a James Spader movie from years ago... I can't recall the particular name, but it was a run-of-the-mill Spader flick.

"Getting to know someone is like peeling an onion... layers and more layers."

It probably has origins that precede a James Spader B-Movie, but I can only guess.

hunter1909 said...

LOL, away from the Oilers a whole week.

macaotim said...

I love Liz Phair and my wife's ok with that. O'Sullivan's not really my type.

Halfwise said...

Can you imagine going to Ireland and getting into a game of Hurley or Gaelic football, never having done much more than run around on a field for fun, as preparation. Incredible stones your Irish buddy had.

Our new Irish buddies on the Oil clearly know their way around the rink, with and without the puck. The O'Sullivan pass to Penner happened right in front of our upper bowl seats and brought my wife and me to our feet in a way that few goals have managed. Surprise and delight.

No poultry was in hand, mind you. Still chuckling about THAT phrase and the comments it provoked.

Black Dog said...

Puck Money - yeah I think its been around for a bit, I cannot remember where I heard it but after I used it a couple of times I realized that it was really kind of dopey.

Definitely not my turn of phrase.

hunter - it was a good week. if they lose tonight then you have to go away again ;)

macaotim - your wife's a peach, Liz, well, what can a guy say about Liz?

Bruce said...

Liz, well, what can a guy say about Liz?

That she's whip smart?


You walk in clouds of glitter and the sun reflects your eyes
And everytime the wind blows, I can smell you in the sky
Your kisses are as wicked as an F-16
And you fuck like a volcano, and you're everything to me

'Cause you're a human supernova
A solar superman
You're an angel with wings afire
A flying, giant friction blast
You're a giant, flying friction blast

-- Liz Phair, "Supernova"

Scott Reynolds said...

I love that story Black Dog. I can just imagine what the other team must have been thinking. I'm amazed your Irish buddy didn't get crushed by someone. I mean, little experience handling the puck and dead tired just screams having his head down for half the game. I'm glad it ended up being a positive experience all around. Did you guys let him keep the assist puck?

spOILer said...

We don't get the fishnet top photo?

You see the first time you visit a place it's like looking at Scandinavian women... in winter. The beauty is there, but the good stuff is all anorak and galoshes.

The next time you visit a place, it's like looking at a fine lady in a black cocktail dress, stockings and high heels. You can tell she's a knockout beauty, but your desperate to see what's underneath the outer layer.

And the 3rd time is Liz Phair in her fishnet top. She still has some drapery but the inner beauty is there for all to see.

Surely that's better than stealing onions from Quinn's belt?

Word verfication: winstu.

I don't even need a stu.

spOILer said...

And I agree with Scott, that was an awesome story.

Black Dog said...

Thanks guys - Scott, it was noncontact, I think if it had been contact, well, it would have been the same story but different league, I'm no dummy.

Well, maybe I am but I have a pretty good idea about self preservation.

As for the assist puck, you know what, I don't think we did, damn I think we didn't even think about it. Shit.

SpOILer - now that is a comparison that I can behind!

Bruce - also Flower and um, White Hot ***


Bruce said...

BDHS: You know it's white hot when even you x out a word. I think the song's official title is H.W.C.

Dennis said...

Why am I not surprised that Pat likes Liz Phair?:)

Good lord, I don't know what kind of wife she'd but if she wasn't a great girlfriend, I wouldn't know what to believe in anymore:)

hunter1909 said...

I pity Sheldon Souray. Married to one of the planet's hottest women, he can't even keep the bitch happy.

Black Dog said...

Halfwise - Surprise and delight, indeed, if you don't mind that will likely be the next post's title after last night's game.

Your comparison is an apt one for sure.

Dennis - she kind of scares me, I'm a man of some experience but she might just tear me apart.

I have to say I'd be up for it though, willing to take a chance ;)

Dennis said...

On "tearing people apart."

Me and my friends were talking about this the other night - while drinking, of course - and having a laugh about it.

The whole idea of women being able to tear you apart, I think it comes from the belief that women by and large don't enjoy sex as much as men so when you know of someone who might or looks like someone who might, then it's almost like you believe they'll been able to harness something beyond the normal libidinous wherewithal.

I've done alright over the years and I remember once I was dating this girl and she had a best friend and me and the friend got along famously. We did the whole group thing where my bud's met the then GF's and all hands would meet at the bar at 2am and then pair off but me and that friend always had a laugh through it all and I could tell right off the bat that she was a big fan of the intercourse.

So, one night, she takes my phone number and then we begin texting and here we go. Eventually, I broke up with her best friend but me and the friend kept in touch and now it's the summertime.

Keep in mind that this girl had been talking about how she loved sex and no one could keep up with her and i tried to set her up with my buddies but she was caught up with an old fling so I never had any scouting reports.

So, it's the summertime and I haven't heard from here in awhile and she texts me and it's on and she's telling me she's seeing this guy but they haven't hooked up yet and he's working all weekend and she wondered if I wanted to come over for a beer.

Why, yes, I think I would.

So I go over there with a box of beer in tow and pretty soon it's flirting and then it's out in the open and then it's officially on.

So, did the girl like sex? Yes, she really did:) But it wasn't to the point where I needed to rehydrate; even though through it all, she was saying things like, "you'll never keep up and you'll need your rest tomorrow morning."

All the while I'm grinning through this and I'm positioning this and I'm bending and tilting that and I'm not saying a word.

A few hours later, we're laying back and having a smoke and I know she's played her cards and my silence spoke her answer. I'm feeling alright about it all so I ask her how it was.

"You were just another hard dick to ride", she huffed.

Well, maybe so.

But I can guarentee you that no one was torn up in the process and that was kinda what had been hinted at for the last year or so:)

Black Dog said...

Good stuff Dennis.

I'd be able to add a story here and there along those lines and probably they will be written at some point. I do know this though, as a guy who is, well, getting a little older, its certainly different now from when I was younger.

I remember my younger self and I think by Jesus what a guy, I could go and go and go some more and never a discouraging word be said at all.

These days though there are times where I'm in the middle of it and I'm thinking 'yes this is it, just like old times, oh man, she's going to get it tonight, all night long baby, here we go' and then when the moment arrives suddenly all of that energy suddenly disappears into the ether.

I'm sure its partially that I am on my last legs every night but its an age thing as well, so I think that ever the tearing apart came down the road I might indeed not be up to it.

But being me, I would have to give it the old college try, as they say. ;)

Dennis said...

Pat: the last good run of whoring I had began the last time anything good happened to any Oilers fan: the spring of '06:)

It was the last summer when I could drink like a lunatic and not feel it and when I could work out hard at the gym and not feel it and those were certainly the days:)

Black Dog said...

My grandmother, a tiny French Canadian woman who died young at 89, used to say 'ooever called them the golden year was not too smart, I will tell you, there is nothing golden about this'

Now you and I are a long way away from those days, at least you are ;), but man nothing good comes from aging physically as far as I am concerned.

Not a goddamned thing.

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