The Hulk

…A few years later we got a real indoor, artificial rink to play on: Central Park Arena. It was huge with real dressing rooms, a canteen, washrooms, a canteen, showers, viewing areas for the parents and a canteen. Did I mention a canteen?  It even had a Zamboni or ice cleaning machine. Above the west end area of the rink was another viewing area and offices, glassed in, and just below that on the wall was the requisite large portrait of the Queen with the appropriate crossed national and provincial flags adorning the image, which was looking down on us with that side glanced smile of hers: a monarchial Mona Lisa. Yet it seemed as if she was mocking us in some imperial fashion.  Not quite cricket this hockey.  We kids hated that image. So much so that we used to fire spit balls with pea shooters at a similar portrait while in class at school. Monarchists we were not, although we were not quite sure what a monarchist was.

It was during a rare afternoon game that the most interesting thing occurred. I can remember the incident as if it happened yesterday and not some 55 years ago.  The game was going on as per normal.  We were playing against the team with that giant anomaly of a player.  The game was close. They were up about 20-1 I think. The game was almost over. I was out on the ice, a defenseman, not a great position to play against this team, especially if the Hulk was on the ice. Sure enough, in this instance he was. We were somewhat down, a tad depressed, forlorn. I think he sensed it for just then in his usual fashion, taking the puck from behind his own net, he began his trek down the ice toward us and our poor depressed, timid looking goalie.  What could we do?

Suddenly he stopped and with the puck he skated back behind his own goal. No one dared go after him but to leave him alone with whatever murderous thoughts or misdeeds, pain, he must be construing in the small brain of his. He just stood there for what seemed like an eternity.  Suddenly he relaxed, sighed, as if a huge strain had suddenly come off of him. He took a deep breath and in that instance he began to move, slowly at first, then picking up speed while pushing the puck forward with the blade of his stick.  Faster and faster he went, weaving and leaving his opponents, our teammates, in his wake as if they were caught flatfooted in a cold mist of snow and ice.

As he approached his own blue line he looked up briefly as if to catch his breath and his bearing, adjusting his course ever so slightly to the right. No one could stop him, touch him or attempt to check him. He was just too fast and too agile and too big for our liking or ability to curtail him. He seemed to be able to swat us away as he skated by as if we were an annoying swarm of flies.  We just let him pass and opened up an unrestricted lane straight down to our end of the ice and our goalie. I would hazard to guess as to what was going through our goalie’s mind at this moment in time. He must be shitting his pants.

“Hey, what on earth are you guys doing?  Stop him for heaven’s sake” he seemed to curse to no one in particular with words to that effect.  No need to bother as there was nothing on this god given patch of ice that was going to curtail this monster.    

Just then he stopped, just shy of the red line at centre ice.  He stood straight up, his legs slightly apart and athwart the direction to our net.  The puck securely ensconced against the blade of his stick. He looked at his bench, his teammates, his coach, and his fans. Then at our bench, at us, our parents and our fans. What on earth was he doing? All of this took about a nano second in the fullness of time.  He must have sensed our confusion, disbelief, wonderment, impatience in exactly what he was up to.  He seemed to be saying to us telepathically:  “Watch this.”…