So, I’ve seen a lot of headcanon/fic for Bitty being the one to join Jack in the NHL, but may I also put forward:
NHL Goalie Chris “Chowder” Chow
my thoughts include:
- the fact that as a freshmen Chowder played for a highly ranked NCAA team and then took them all the way to the final game. as a freshmen.
- the fact that Chowder is this adorable, loveable puppy who does splits for fun on command but then gets into the net and turns super freakin’ terrifying and–
- Look, no one really expects it. Like, the Samwell Men’s Hockey team knows that Chowder is good, knows that by the time he is a senior, Chowder does have 19 shut-outs and the team is working hard to get him the big 2-0, but no one puts it together that the college record is 26 and holy hell, has anyone bothered to calculate his save percentage?
- Chowder is just so thrilled for everyone else and never talks about himself and he doesn’t do press (the one time they’d tried to have him do press, he had rambled even worse than Bitty used to about how swawesome everyone else was) and a part of all this is that the team loves Chowder for Chowder, not because he is an incredible goalie.
- All this to say that when NHL scouts start turning up at their games Chowder’s senior year, there is a bit of confusion. The Samwell Men’s Hockey team is good but they are good because they have a lot of solid players who work hard and connect on and off the ice, not necessarily anyone that’s a superstar. Unless maybe they are trying to snipe Whiskey early??
- So, finally, Tango just goes up and asks one of the scouts who they are here to see (seen as a bit taboo but when has Tango ever let that stop him) and– “Your goalie, obviously. Chris Chow. Do you think he’s available to chat after the game?”
- When Chowder calls Jack to ask for advice (he honestly has no idea what these numbers even mean on these contracts and Murray and Hall had agreed to be in the room when people talked to him to help him out but he still needs more help. he needs all the help.), Jack answers and then instantly says, “Hold on, let me get Bitty- he’s in the middle of vlogging, that’s why his phone is off” and “No wait!” Chowder squeaks. “I was actually hoping you could help me? I mean, if you have time? If not that’s totally fine, I know you’re–”
- Let’s fast forward and imagine Jack Zimmermann and Chris Chowder’s first game against each other. (Because obviously Chowder is given the opportunity to play for the Sharks and he literally dies with excitement and, even after all Jack’s advice, signs with them pretty much right away). People are talking about the match-up, a few reporters noting that they were old teammates, someone gets a hold of the fact that Zimmermann left Chowder his room and someone else finds Chowder appearing on Bitty’s vlog so it’s a bit of a story.
- And, at this point, Jack Zimmermann has played against friends before and he’s used to the slight nod of recognition before games and so it is a bit jarring when Chowder, sweet, sweet Chowder, doesn’t spare him so much as a glance. (If he’s being completely honest, it throws him, because yes he remembers Chowder being a terror in the net but he’s not in the net yet and still his eyes slide right past Jack during warmups! Maybe he doesn’t realize he is playing the Falconers?)
- (Meanwhile, Bitty is in the stands just like… dying. He wants Jack to win. He wants Chowder to get a shut-out. He does not think he could handle a shoot-out. He has Jack’s jersey on but is also wearing a Sharks hat. He feels sick. He hates every part of his life that has led him to this agonizing moment where he has to chose between his boyfriend and his Chowder and maybe it could end in a tie? Just this once?)
- The Falconers win 3-1 (look, they are the Stanley Cup champions) but Chowder has some sick saves and for the first time in his life, Jack feels a little guilty about scoring and so as the game ends, he sort of… hovers on the ice, lingering and sneaking glances at Chowder to make sure he’s okay because, good lord, Bitty is not going to forgive him if he hurt Chowder and–
- He ends up getting tackled from behind. One moment he is looking over his shoulder and telling his teammates he’ll be right with them, the next he has a goalie in his arms and he’s grinning before he realizes it and– “God, Jack, that second goal was awesome! It was just like you used to do in practice- I should have remembered! Except I think you got even faster!! Though I’m glad I got that other one, 4 to 1 would have been embarrassing, and did Bitty tell you I got a later flight out so I could come to dinner!! Imagine, dinner with a Stanley Cup Winner!! I am so excited and Bitty promised to make pie and, man, do I miss those pies and–”
- Jack grins and laughs and the two skate over to Bitty, who is smiling and crying and trips over himself trying to congratulate Jack while also consoling Chowder while also yelling at Jack for scoring on Chowder and it’s all a happy, happy mess.
Hello! I really love your NHL Chowder headcanons. Just the thought of Chowder asking his friends for help and doing the whole chalkboard thing like Jack, but choosing the Sharks anyway because sometimes the intangibles are just more important, and then meeting his new teammates and being excited to the point where they are aware of his stats but they mostly discount him as a goalie anyway, but then he gets in the net and there's the complete personality turnaround and they all just go whoa.
Yes this is perfect - I really love imaging how Chowder’s first few weeks went with the Sharks. Like, right now the Sharks are a very good team (and have been for a while) but let’s say that the reason they are recruiting directly from college is because they have been really struggling at the goalie position and coming so close to the Cup but then always falling short before the finals has had a toll on morale and to the players, it seems that bringing in such a n00b goalie is a sign that management is looking to shake it up. Or giving up on this team and planning to do a rebuild, get some younger players and try with a different group of guys.
So, essentially, when Chowder bursts into the Sharks locker room full of happiness and enthusiasm and without even the faintest attempt at being cool at all, this does not exactly help matters. This kid is young in every sense of the word (like, yes, he has his braces off by this point, but he is not ashamed to say he wore them up until 2 years ago and dear god he actually won’t stop talking) and bringing in young, untested guys means a rebuild year and people are not that happy.
Chowder does not seem to notice.
He just keeps babbling on about how excited he is to be here and how much he looks up to all these guys and “omg it has been so swawesome to watch you guys like i have grown up watching you and-!!!” (okay, we get it, you’re young, ugh).
So the first few days of practice, they don’t scrimmage, just do some conditioning stuff, practice a few passes. And Chowder is fine. He’s not a bad player and his conditioning seems good but still… a team isn’t going to get far without a really good goalie and this one… well, they just aren’t sure he has what it takes. No one says it aloud but there are shared glances and sighs and the vibe for the first few days is not exactly what it should be.
Then, then finally on Friday of that first week, they scrimmage. Full 5 on 5 with Chowder in one goal, second string goalie in the other (privately people have been saying he should be moved to the first string because at least he seems to take the game seriously and not act like a fan) and, sure, people notice that Chowder goes a bit quiet the minutes leading up to the game but they figure he is probably nervous and his mask covers most of his face so they can’t see him all that well and-
Well, and then they play and Chowder is the goalie.
And Chowder is… well, it’s not that the boys are going easy on him at the beginning but it wouldn’t exactly be good form to demolish your goalie’s self-esteem during your first scrimmage when it’s his rookie year so they aren’t whipping pucks at his head at a full 100%. They are being polite about it.
Until none of their polite shots go in. Not one.
And at this point, the other team has scored twice and, look, the boys playing against Chowder are not trying to lose against their teammates so they start trying harder. And then harder. And, nope, those shots are not being polite anymore. Not even a little bit.
And, still, none of them go in.
Now, they are playing it like a real game. Rex is crowding the goal, ready to get the rebound and just nail it past Chowder if he has to and Chowder seems calm about him being so close but then when the puck comes, he is shoving Rex out of the way to get to the puck and then goes back to ignoring him the moment the puck is flung towards the other side.
Rex probably tries saying something then. Since, you know, technically they are on the same team, something like “Nice save” or “Good one” or “Did you just do a split??” and it is surprising because previously this week, Chowder has answered every statement directed towards him with stammers and exclamation points. This time, he doesn’t so much as look in Rex’s direction.
Rex says it again. Louder. Maybe Chowder didn’t hear him?
Same thing and then he gets a look at Chowder’s eyes through the mask and they are cold and terrifying and he doesn’t have time to stare too long because he’s getting yelled at for hanging back when his team is on offense so he goes.
He keeps trying though, just because now it’s kind of freaking him out. He keeps them all friendly, even when Chowder finally lets one in- “Had to get one on you sometime!”
Nothing. From what Rex can see, Chowder’s eyes are tracking the “ref” (one of the coaches) who has the puck.
The scrimmage ends with Chowder’s team winning 4-1 and when the buzzer rings, all the Sharks are kind of staring because holy shit that was some good goaltending but Chowder doesn’t really notice because he takes his time taking his mask off and getting a drink of water and then when he turns to them it’s–
“Oh wow!!! You guys were so great! That was so fun! I can’t believe I finally got to play with you!! This is a dream come true- omg some of those shots! You guys are so GOOD!!!!”
“Don’t talk much in the net, do you?” Rex says as they get dressed afterwards. Chowder had been rambling a minute ago about how great it was to play a real game again and how much he’d missed hockey over the summer but at this he sort of tilts his head.
“I tried to chat,” Rex says. “A few times and you didn’t react. Is that another of your superstitions? No talking in the net?”
And Chowder sort of looks at him and frowns and blinks, obviously confused–
“You tried to talk to me? When? I don’t remember that at all.”
And that’s when the Sharks realize they have a fucking terrifying goalie.
Thank you for writing about unexpectedlyterrifying!Chowder. And I bet it goes the other way too. Rookies come in expecting to meet the FTG, the goalie who everyone knows is seriously intense. And yeah when he's interviewed it does't really seem to match his on ice persona, but everyone know that interviews are 3/4 bs and the on ice persona is the real one. But then they get there and he's gushing all over them (and there are mentions of pies? And frogs? Why?) and the new guys are just ??? What?
I have to think that this leads, eventually, to one of the biggest conspiracy theories the NHL has ever known.
It starts out as a joke on the internet somewhere, that there is no way that Chris Chowder and FTG can actually be the same person. Chris Chow is a lovable ball of sunshine and joy and FTG looks like he wants to murder anyone who even thinks of coming close to his net and it just doesn’t. make. sense.
So someone jokingly writes that Chris Chow and FTG must be different people and someone replies, saying something like “There’s more than one reason he wears a mask!” and more people pile on that FTG never takes his mask off, not even during breaks in periods and actually, he usually skates onto the ice with full goalie gear on, all ready to go and…
It starts as a joke and then turns into something more.
People start talking about how Chowder never actually seems that tired after post-game interviews. He is always pretty upbeat with the press, even if the Sharks lost. He is perfectly polite and has only nice things to say about everyone on the opposing team, even though mere moments ago, FTG had cursed out Dobson loudly enough that the first row of fans could hear it.
Most importantly, people note how Chowder sometimes has a great deal of difficulty remembering what actually happened during the game.
Ask Chris Chow to comment on the great save he had in the second period and he starts talking about how his teammates had some great shots and were able to convert some great opportunities.
Ask Chris Chow where he learned to do such crazy fast and ridiculous splits like he did in the third period and he avoids the question by mumbling nonsense about “Back when I was a frog, Ransom and Holster would chirp me every kegster until I could do them faster than Bitty could bake a pie. Plus it used to distract Nursey and Dex. And make the tadpoles feel less homesick.” Which must be some sort of code that no one can figure out.
Ask Chris Chow to comment on the fact that he actually broke his goalie stick over a man’s back (in a play that was declared legal because he was going for the puck) and he blinks and says, “Oh! Did they give me a new one? I thought it felt a bit different!”
It all points to one thing:
Chris Chow and FTG cannot be the same person.
The conspiracy theories grow.
Twins, most people say. Chris Chow and FTG must actually be identical twin brothers. One is crazy and intense; the other super nice and they decided to have Chris do the press. They are just different enough that FTG never takes his goalie mask off for fear people would realize.
Robot, other people say. The Sharks have poured all their money into creating a goalie robot and have programmed it to stay eerily silent except for once every five games, when it will explode in rage (but then Chris Chow will not remember this later). Some worry it is becoming sentient.
Demon, a few people say. They are religious folk and they believe in God, but with that belief comes an acknowledgement that Satan must exist as well and either Chris Chow has made a deal with the devil that activates when he is between the poles or a demon goes as plays in his place. Either way seems equally plausible at this point.
There are crazier theories than that and they are all over youtube. Actually, there are approximately 1600 conspiracy theory videos on the subject of Chris Chow and FTG. The most popular have been discussed on ESPN.
Obviously, his teammates (current and old) know the truth but there is nothing more fun than playing with the press a little bit so they subtly start leaving hints (”Yeah, FTG is weird about getting ready. Really superstitious. Always puts his mask on in an individual stall so we can’t see him. Haha, what a great guy.” “Never actually been to FTG’s house. He’s a pretty private dude.” “One time in a scrimmage, FTG censored himself when he pushed past him – at least, he just made a series of really weird beeps instead of actually saying anything…”)
Jack Zimmermann is asking about going to college with Chris Chow and Jack gives a very lengthy (for him) speech about how Chowder was a great goalie and great friend and how it was an honor to play with him. Unfortunately, this doesn’t help as much as people thought it would because Jack says all of it in such a monotone that the next day the internet declares: THE HOCKEY ROBOTS ARE BANDING TOGETHER, WORKING TO PROTECT THEIR OWN.
Ransom and Holster write a blog post saying that they played on the SMH Team and actually never once saw Chris Chow out of practice. In fact, a look at Samwell’s records don’t show that Chris Chow ever attended Samwell. It goes viral.
Chris Chow is asked about this blog post and all he does is grin and laugh and: “Gosh, those two are hilarious. Me not going to Samwell! Imagine! …ohmygod that would be so sad. I never would have met Farmer! Or Bitty! OR JACK! OH MY GOD THIS IS TERRIBLE I NEVER WOULD HAVE EVEN–” The interview has to be stopped because he has started crying. (Convenient, the internet whispers. Notice how he didn’t answer the question.)
Even after the Sharks win the cup and Chowder finally takes off his mask in celebration, the question lingers.
In the mad pile in the middle, there was time to pull off a switch.
The mystery continues.
Hi petals42! I really really like FTG Chowder <3 just cause he cute and sweet off ice doesn't mean he won't kill with his glare and curse worse than a pirate on ice xD I wonder how people would react when chowder takes off his helmet in anger on ice -anonymous
I mean, honestly, when FTG finally takes off his mask and goes after someone on the ice, people are shocked.
It’s his sixth season in the NHL and the Sharks had won the Stanley Cup the previous year and most people have accepted that Chris Chow is, in fact, FTG. At least, they had seen him without his mask on after the Stanley Cup Finals so… the twin theory is still going strong but most people are starting to come around to the idea that Chris Chow just changes when he is between the poles.
Between the poles, Chris Chow goes deadly silent 90% of the time and is not shy about getting physical with the opposing team if he thinks they are in his space and that 10% of the time he isn’t silent, he is yelling obscenities. This yelling 10% means that he has skated out towards someone a little bit and one time, against the Wildcats, he had had to be held back by his own teammates so really, FTG finally losing his temper and attacking someone isn’t the shocking part of the story.
People aren’t all that surprised when Chris Chow tears off his mask, throws down his stick, and shakes his glove off all in under two seconds.
People aren’t all that surprised when Chris Chow flies onto the ice, blindsides the other person, and then gets into what will go down as one of the most brutal fights of NHL history.
Of course, people are surprised as to who he attacks.
Because FTG does not attack Middleton, who had whacked him in the face with his stick a few minutes ago. FTG does not attack Popov, who has been whipping shots as his face all night. He does not attack Snowsden, the opposing team’s goalie in some kind of goalie face-off.
No, FTG attacks Bunsen.
Who is a defensive player.
On the Sharks.
That’s right. When FTG finally snaps and goes out for blood, it is against his own teammate.
It’s early in the season- only mid November (which honestly, makes this whole thing more strange because usually tempers don’t flare so much until closer to the playoffs). Bunsen is the defensive player the Sharks had picked up in an international trade this year and, sure, there had been rumors that Bunsen wasn’t really fitting in with the team. Some people had noted how he was the one person that Chris Chow does not gush over at all but there is a big leap from “maybe not fitting into the locker room” and “currently being attacked by his own goalie.”
It is a bizarre moment in NHL history. The puck is by center ice, but it looks like the Sharks are going to get possession so Bunsen had been hanging back, closer to FTG, just in case but was poised to skate ahead, and then, seemingly out of nowhere, FTG abandons his goal, rams into Bunsen’s back, only to spin him around, punch him once in the chin, yell at him, and then punch him again when Bunsen tries to answer.
Then Bunsen makes the mistake of trying to shake loose by lifting his elbow into FTG’s face and well…
Turns out FTG was still holding onto some semblance of control.
After that, he stops.
It is madness.
The refs get there and try to pull the two players apart (because well, it is a fight and they are supposed to let those go but helmets are already off and this is between teammates). But it’s hard because FTG has his name for a reason and they don’t get much help at first. It seems most of the Sharks have automatically sided with FTG and don’t seem too keen to stop him. Also, the opposing team doesn’t seem to certain what they are supposed to do in this event either, but FTG is a household name at this point, and Chris Chow is incredibly well-liked and so they seem pretty willing to let him continue as well.
Finally, the Sharks’ captain manages to gather some people to drag Bunsen away (he had been losing spectacularly anyway), but FTG is still fighting against his own teammates and it all seems to get even crazier when the opposing team’s captain leaves his own bench to skate on the ice (and that’s a major penalty right there, with a misconduct for good measure)
But then again, if anyone can calm down FTG, it is probably Jack Zimmermann.
So Jack Zimmermann glides onto the ice, hands up and nodding politely to the Sharks holding back Chowder and then takes his helmet off, places it on the ground, and–
“Chowder,” Zimmermann sounds calm and serious and everyone knows that Zimmermann and FTG are friends (there are always pap photos of them at restaurants after they play each other), but they have never interacted directly during a game before.
For a moment, it looks like Zimmermann’s attempt intervention might not work because FTG looks even more upset, but then Zimmermann repeats the old college nickname and FTG blinks and suddenly he looks a lot more like Chris Chow again.
The Sharks holding him back release him and Zimmermann skates closer, tilting their heads together so that only they can hear what’s going on and the whole crowd is silent, trying to hear their conversation but they can’t.
They can only see their FTG passionately explaining something, waving a hand towards Bunsen every so often, and then Jack Zimmermann shakes his head and tries to say something. FTG interrupts him, anger creeping back onto his face and Jack Zimmermann smiles, just a little at that, and FTG looks stubborn and they tilt their heads back together, Jack saying something in Chowder’s ear that is just for him and–
When Jack Zimmermann pulls back, FTG looks stubborn but calm and then Zimmermann gives him one last pat on the shoulder and then skates back to the bench, scooping up his helmet and giving the ref’s an apologetic shrug as he heads back to his bench.
It takes a long time to figure out what exactly to do.
Chowder talks to his own captain, Lundin, next, looking just as stubborn and maybe angry and then Lundin has to talk to the coach and it seems they are benching Bunsen but the refs still have to do decide who is serving what penalties (and are they going to eject Jack Zimmermann for coming on to the ice when he was stopping the fight instead of joining it?) and FTG mutters something doing it again if Bunsen comes back out that the mics catch up and then talk seems to go to ejecting Chowder and all the Sharks protest at that obviously because Chowder is the goalie and Bunsen tries to say something then, only to get impatiently shoved back by the Lundin. Meanwhile, the Falconers are milling around their own bench, asking Zimmermann what’s going on and Zimmermann doesn’t seem to say anything much but they must find out something because suddenly the Falconers are glaring at Bunsen too and now seem to be arguing that FTG shouldn’t be penalized at all.
It gets sorted eventually. Zimmermann gets a major for leaving the bench during an altercation, though they don’t give him the game misconduct, deciding that he wasn’t going to join or start a fight. FTG and Bunsen both get majors as well, and Lundin skates over to serve FTG’s penalty without being asked.
The Falconer’s make no real attempt to score during their power play.
After the game, there is only one topic that anyone wants to discuss. Jack Zimmermann comes out first and says only the following:
“Chris Chowder has always been a great player and a great friend.”
“No, I didn’t say anything special to him. Just talked.”
“I have nothing to say about Bunsen. He is not on my team.”
(It’s a good thing Jack Zimmermann is amazing on the ice because when he has never given reporters the drama they want him to. Not even after coming out.)
There is a longer wait for a Shark to come out and in that time there is a debate over whether it will be Lundin or Chow but most people think that they will probably try to keep Chow from making a bigger mess of this so when Chris Chow AKA FTG AKA the joy of San Jose comes out, the reporters go nuts.
And for the first time, it seems that the man in front of reporters is more like FTG than Chris Chow. There is no giddy excitement or ear-splitting grin, he just sits down, looking angry, and then before anyone can ask any questions:
“Well, I’ve been told that I am supposed to tell you that I’m sorry for losing my temper and getting in a fight with one of my own teammates,” he starts, with a glare off to the side. There is a man standing there who is looking vaguely dismayed. “But the truth is,” FTG continues and it is FTG. “I’m not. I’m not going to stand for anyone using homophobic language about my friends - about anybody - on my team. So, that’s that. I’m not sorry.”
“Is that why Bunsen hasn’t been meshing with the team?”
FTG shrugs. “It’s why he hasn’t been meshing with me.”
“So what’s next? Has Bunsen apologized?”
“I’m not playing with him until he does,” FTG crosses his arms in front of him, eyes going darker. “If then.”
There is outrage at that, every reporter trying to ask questions at once and FTG just calmly looks out. The man off to the side now has his head in his hands. Finally someone says loudly enough,
“What did Zimmermann say to you?”
FTG blinks, “Oh, Jack? Well, Jack just said that it wasn’t a big deal - which is obviously wrong - and that I should take a deep breath and calm down. He is such a good captain and a calm person and he told me I shouldn’t have done that but also told me that Bitty is going to make me like 5 pies so I think he was happy and, gosh, he is even better at the captain-voice than he was in college! And his shots are even fasters- I mean Lundin is like the best captain everrrr but Jack Zimmermann is also great and MAN it was great to be on the ice with both of them and I bet I can get Bitty to make me 20 pies and share them with the team – except Bunsen. He doesn’t get any pie – but oh! Do you think Bitty will make a blueberry pie?? Man, I love those. Wait, right, we were talking about Jack. Jack is the best–”
And thus FTG fades away and Chris Chow returns and all is right with the world.
(The night the pap photos are of the entire Falconer’s and almost all the Sharks out at the same restaurant. FTG is sandwiched between Lundin and Bitty, beaming at everyone.)
(Bunsen isn’t at dinner, obviously.)
(He doesn’t play another game with the Sharks.)