Like many hockey playing boys who’d grown up in the era of NHL players going to the Olympics, Tyler had dreamed of joining the Triple Gold Club. To have a hockey career that successful- a Stanley Cup, a World Championships Gold, and an Olympic Gold… that would just be… amazing. His rookie year in the NHL he’d had the unbelievable experience of getting to check the first box and four years later he’d checked the second (alongside Sidney Crosby!), but that third… it was elusive. When he’d been selected for Team Canada for the World Cup of Hockey in 2016 he’d taken that as a good sign regarding his Olympic chances in 2018, but well, if there’s one non-hockey thing, besides what not to tweet, that his NHL career has taught him, it’s that owners and management tend to have very different plans than he does.
That being said, Tyler was only 25 years old (26 by the time the Olympics roll around) and all signs pointed to the NHL allowing it’s players to participate in the 2022 Olympics, so he’s not that heartbroken (yet- ask him again in February), but he does need a bit of a pick-me-up after the announcement is made… especially with how the Stars’ season was ending.
One day, at the very end of April, sitting in his living room in Toronto with Brownie, playing with Cash and Marshall, he blurts, “I think I want another dog.”
Brownie nearly drops the toy he’s using to play tug-of-war with Cash, “Well that came out of nowhere.”
“Maybe? Not really? I mean, look at these boys!” Tyler reaches down to rub Marshall’s belly, “Who are the best boys, you are! Yes you are!” He coos. “How could I not want another?”
Brownie shrugs and leans into Tyler.
“Besides- if I can’t get in the Triple Gold Club this winter, I may as well get a Lab hat trick this summer.”
Cash drops the rope he’d been tugging with Brownie and jumps up on their laps, whining, belly up.
Brownie looks down and sighs, “I guess you want belly rubs, too?” His hands matching his words as he looks over at Tyler, “Explain.”
And so Tyler does, the shitty end of the season, his (hopefully only temporarily) squashed Olympic dreams, and his other, silly goal- one that no NHL team can crush.
“I really want a Lab of each color and all I’m missing is a yellow.”
“Well, you better get looking then, if you want to get a puppy and have it trained before you head to Biosteel camp, let alone back to Dallas, because Tyler, I love you, but I’m not taking care of an untrained dog alone while you go train with McJesus.”
“Ty, when you get a puppy from a breeder they come at least partially trained. Besides, you won’t be watching these guys- you’ll be busy training yourself!” Tyler straightened up on the couch, giving Brownie a look, “Won’t you?”
“Ummm… about that… No. I won’t be. I’ve decided to hang up my skates.” Browning squares his shoulders and barrels onwards, like he’s expecting this to become a fight, “I’ve spent the past six years bouncing between the American and East Coast leagues and honestly, I love the game but I think I peaked a few years ago- I’m never going to make the National League, so I may as well go out now, while I’m healthy, than wait for an injury or a lack of offers to make that decision for me.”
“But! What about Eur-“
“No. I’m done playing pro. I’ve decide to go to University, get a math degree, try to get involved with the advanced stats side of the sport.”
“You’ve really thought this through.”
“Yes, unlike you and a third dog.”
“Have you applied to schools yet? I mean, deadlines have passed, haven’t they, if I remember from Cassidy applying to schools last year?”
“Yeah, they have. I applied months ago, got into a few places. I need to pick one though- deposits are due at the end of this week.”
Tyler startles, “Dude, I’m the procrastinator in this relationship. What do you mean deposits are due this week and you haven’t picked one yet?”
“Well, I’ve got a shortlist, but I wanted to talk it over with you first… How would you feel about a roommate?”
“Umm? You’re already my summer roommate? Isn’t it a bit late to ask after you’ve moved in?”
“I mean during the season. My top choice is University of Texas, in Dallas.”
“Not a school up here?”
“No. Part of why I’m not pursuing Europe is that I want to be closer to you. Plus, schools in the US have more opportunities for me to do stats work for their athletic departments. NCAA is way more intense that CIS in that regard, especially big schools like that.”
“Ok. Yeah. We’ll do this. You’ll go to school and live with me and it’ll be great.”
“I’ll live with you and your two dogs.”
“Nope. Three. I want that hat trick.”
“You have two weeks to find a breeder and pick a puppy. If you haven’t found one by May 13th it’ll be you, me, and two dogs in Dallas this year.”
Tyler really is the procrastinator, between the two of them, but he doesn’t wait until the absolute last minute… just the day before. On May 12th he visits a breeder and finds the perfect little guy to complete his hat trick. He snaps a video to Brownie- the reply?
“Post a vid on IG, those pups are way cuter than you!”