NHL Watch @hockeywatch
LA Lions GM Joe Davis is apparently looking to make one/several moves before the draft. Maybe looking for a new winger for Nicolas Rivera?
Unofficial Panthers @ctpanthersnews
Looks like Sarah Albright is currently talking to the Hartford Panthers. More soon!
Alex would so love to be able to say that he left hockey behind when he hung up his skates five years ago, but that’s not how it works. He’s a Goldman. Goldmans don’t just leave hockey behind. In his family, you leave hockey behind when you die. Maybe not even then.
So, occasionally, he watches a game on TV with Ashley. When he’s working at the rink and the kids are playing, he goes downstairs and high-fives them when they leave the ice, no matter if they won or lost. His house is full of his dad’s old jerseys, stacks of pucks, remnants of past hat tricks, pictures of his father with the other greats. Pictures of Alex, just a kid, holding up trophies, hugging his mom after a game, pictures of his junior team, his college team, and then they stop. No more pictures.
At least no pictures his dad put up.
When Alex stopped playing hockey – had to stop playing hockey – his dad signed on as a coach for the Seattle Sailors and moved across the country. His mom went with him. They come back during the summer for a week or two. Sometimes it’s just his mom, because his dad found a convenient excuse for why he can’t come home and look his only son in the eyes. In turn, Alex keeps coming up with reasons why he can’t join them for Hanukkah or any other festivity that might require his presence. He still feels guilty that he didn’t show up for his mom’s birthday, but his dad’s team was in the middle of playoffs and Alex didn’t think it wise to subject himself to that kind of atmosphere.
Still, he sees the trade rumors. The news. He’ll watch the draft. He’ll remember getting drafted all those years ago, he’ll remember pulling on the Washington Eagles’ jersey, he’ll remember that he believed, for a while, that his future was bright.
He was going to be one of those guys who who live and breathe for the game, who get to live their dream, day after day after day. Now he’s back where he started. Back in Cedar Mills, back in the house he grew up in when Zachary Goldman was the face of the Connecticut Cardinals and little Alexander was dreaming of a future in which he was just like his dad.
He understands now that the best thing that’s ever happened to him is that he didn’t turn out just like his dad.
“Did you see?”
Alex looks up and finds Ashley hovering in the door. She’s carrying three pairs of figure skates. Her red Cedar Mills Vikings hoodie clashes horribly with her ginger hair, but they do support their own teams around here and Ashley supports them extra hard. “Did I see what?” Alex asks. He already knows that it’s about Sarah, but he’s not in the mood to admit that he spent the last half hour scrolling through Twitter to see what moves are being made before the draft.
“Sarah might be coming home,” Ashley says. “The Panthers haven’t confirmed it yet, but she’s definitely talking to them.”
Alex hasn’t seen Sarah in a while. Actually, he ran into her at the grocery store last year when Sarah was home for Christmas. She had a boyfriend in tow and a big smile on her face and Alex only waved at her and ducked out of the store, buying only half of what he’d meant to buy, because he felt guilty about never having gone to a single one of her games after his sophomore year at college.
“Good for her,” Alex says and pulls an open folder across the desk, pretending that he’s busy.
Ashley nods, grabs her skates a little tighter, and wanders off.
The kids are still skating, so Alex has about ten more minutes before he has to go down and fix the ice before Ashley’s skating lesson. If someone asked Alex what he likes most about taking care of the rink, he’d immediately say that it’s driving the Zamboni. It’s always been his favorite thing. When he was a kid, he often stuck around after practice and asked Patty to teach him how it works.
His dad thought it was a waste of time. Goldmans don’t drive Zambonis.
Well, Alex Goldman does drive the Zamboni. Pretty much every day, except for Wednesdays. Ashley’s here all day on Wednesdays, because she insists that Alex has to take a day off here and there, but he wouldn’t leave the rink in the hands of anyone else.
His dad tried to talk him into coaching when he couldn’t play anymore. Alex said no. His dad then tried to talk him into changing his major. Alex, once again, said no. He finished college. He did that, a year late, but with honors. After graduation, his mom took him out for dinner and asked him what he wanted to do next. Alex said the first thing that came to mind. “Do we need someone at the rink?”
Patty, who’d been taking care of the rink for the Goldmans, showed him the ropes, then, last summer, he retired. Towards the end of the year, his mother sent Alex the papers for the rink, pretending it wasn’t a Hanukkah present. Alex has no idea how she managed to talk his dad into giving him the rink. Maybe his dad is hoping that he’ll start coaching a team after all if he spends enough time here and that he’ll eventually start working for an NHL team. He’d probably even be pleased if it was an AHL team, or a college team, but Alex isn’t going to do him that favor.
At the rink, even though he can’t skate, Alex feels weirdly at peace. This is the way it is now. He is just Alex. Alex, who owns the rink, Alex who organizes fun trips to hockey games but never goes himself, Alex who cheers for the kids. The kids don’t know what he could have been.
Sometimes they ask him why he doesn’t skate, and he tells them he can’t. He probably could. On a good day. He doesn’t want to find out.
“Where do those people get their rumors from?”
Sarah wanders into the kitchen, tilting her head. Nate is standing by the window, his tie dangling off his neck, his suit jacket hanging over a chair. Just got home. He isn’t wasting any time on hellos.
“What people?” Sarah asks.
Nate holds up his phone. “The people on Twitter.”
“Oh no, what are the bad people on Twitter saying now?” Sarah asks. “Has David O’Connor signed his contract yet? How much is he getting? A big bag full of money?”
Nate blinks at her, looking confused. He doesn’t follow hockey and he likes to pretend that he knows even less about what’s going on in the major leagues than he actually does. It brings him joy to act like he’s not wasting his time with something as silly as rooting for a sports team.
He does root for Sarah. Occasionally. He wishes her luck before games, and he comes to a few here and there, but hockey just isn’t his thing.
“Some weird account that apparently only exists to spread rumors said you’re signing with the Panthers.” Nate shakes his head. “Honestly, do they just pull that stuff out of their ass?”
Sarah drags her finger over the kitchen counter. Nate spilled salt on it this morning when he was making his breakfast eggs and he didn’t clean up properly. “I think they might be saying that because the Panthers contacted me about signing with them.”
“Did they,” Nate says flatly.
“Well, it’s not unusual for them to reach out. There’s only six women’s teams in the area, and–”
“And you won’t be signing with any of them, so what’s the point?”
Sarah doesn’t reply. They’ve tried to have this discussion so many times that she’s lost count, but somehow they still haven’t managed to finish it.
“Wait a second.” Nate folds his arms across his chest. He has the lawyer-y I have you all figured out look on his face. “Are you thinking about signing with another team?” He doesn’t wait for Sarah to reply. “Babe, we’re moving to California. You can’t just decide to stay here for another year without talking to me about it.”
See, Sarah is a peaceful person. She doesn’t yell, not off the ice. She always tries to be the happiest, politest and gentlest version of herself, but Nate occasionally manages to bring out the absolute worst in her when he does that. “How is this different from, ‘Sarah, I accepted a job in San Francisco and we’re moving there at the end of August.’ You didn’t ask me.”
“Well, you’d already told me that you wouldn’t be playing hockey forever. It’s not like you make a lot of money with it and when we move to San Francisco, we’ll get married and we’ll have kids, it’s not like you’ll still be playing hockey then.”
Sometimes, in the past, Sarah wondered how people could just make a decision like they’re flipping a switch. Sarah isn’t that kind of person. She makes lists. A question, neatly written out at the top, then two columns. Pros and cons. Today, she doesn’t make a list. Today she flips the switch. Nate never asked her if she even wanted to go to San Francisco. Those discussions they never finished? They always ended with Nate telling her that she wasn’t making enough money, that he didn’t mind providing for them both, because she’d need to stay home to take care of their future (three) kids anyway, but then they’d have to move, so he could work a better job with a better income. And then he accepted that job. Without asking her.
And this morning, when Elena Turner called her to talk about the goalie position on the Panthers that needs to be filled, Sarah didn’t immediately tell her that there was no chance that she’d be signing with another team. She’s not ready to retire, but there are no professional teams in San Francisco, so she said she’d think about it.
A few seconds ago, Nate made that decision for her. Actually, he was the one who flipped the switch.
It’s the last decision he’ll make for her.
“I think it might be better if you went to San Francisco without me,” Sarah says. She can already hear her mother yelling about it. Nate was going to propose to her. They met in college, they loved each other, but in the end, Sarah has to admit that she only stayed because it seemed like the right thing to do. It was comfortable, having someone who cared, it gave them both a sense of security. But is Nate the love of her life?
It’s been keeping her up at night. And the fact that she still doesn’t know if she can answer that question with a yes should tell her everything she needs to know.
“I’m sorry,” Nate says, “I don’t understand.”
Oh, he does understand. He understands, just like he knows who David O’Connor is, even though he likes to pretend that he doesn’t. “What I mean is, I never said I wanted to move to San Francisco, you just made that decision without me and kept pretending that I wanted to go as well. And I went along with it.”
“And you’re telling me that now?” Nate asks, his voice steadily growing louder. “Why didn’t you say something?”
“I am saying something.”
“It’s too late now.”
“It’s not,” Sarah says. “You can still go. I’ll stay.”
“And you think I’ll be willing to be in a long distance relationship with you? Just like that? You can’t just spring that on me, Sarah. It’s inconsiderate. That’s not like you at all.”
“I wasn’t talking about a long distance relationship.” And he knows that. He knows. It was only mildly annoying in the past, but now it’s making her furious.
“What, are you breaking up with me?”
“Yeah, Nate, I think that’s for the best.”
“Where is this coming from all of a sudden?” Nate asks. “Are you… Have you been seeing someone else?”
“Is it that girl you’ve been hanging out with? What’s her name? Kelly? Katie?” Nate shakes his head. “I should have known.”
“I’m not cheating on you, Nate.”
“Then why are breaking up with me out of the blue?”
“Because I don’t want to move to San Francisco with you. I want to play hockey. And not just for one more year. I want to play hockey for however long I can. I want you to support me, but you just want me to have kids and you haven’t even asked me if I’m ready for that. That’s why I’m breaking up with you.”
“You’ll regret this. Tomorrow morning, you’ll have changed your mind. You always do.”
She never does.
“I’m gonna spend the night at Dani’s,” Sarah says. “And I’m coming back to get my things when you’re at work tomorrow.”
Nate only scoffs, grabs his jacket and his keys, and storms out the door.
Sarah is still spending the night at Dani’s, though. The first thing she does when she’s in the car is to send Elena Turner an email, asking her to please give her a call tomorrow. She’s still interested in signing with the Panthers.