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Just Off-Camera

"They respect you if you write. The dumber the world gets, the more the words matter." -Dan Jenkins

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Livin' The Dream

Back in my undergrad days, when I was an Assistant Sports Editor at The Cornell Daily Sun, I would periodically (get it? periodically?) try to convince Mike Schafer, the men's hockey coach, to let me skate in a practice with the team. I never asked him directly, though. Instead, I tried to persuade him by dropping messages in my biweekly column every so often.
When I was a freshman and my parents brought me to Cornell, my dad ran into men's hockey head coach Mike Schafer '86 on the first day I was here. My dad told Schafer that I was a hockey player and came away from the conversation suggesting that I try out for the team. Now, I can skate forwards and backwards and stop and all, but I'm a crappy hockey player. I play in a men's league downtown. I can't hang with the club team, let alone the varsity. But I love the sport.

So I think if I could get on the ice with the men's hockey team, that would be one of the coolest things to happen to me in my four years here. Just 15 minutes of a practice, that's all I ask. Coach Schafer, can you make this happen? (From Oct. 4, 2002.)
Oh, by the way, I think I can hang with the club team now. Anyway, a couple months later, I still hadn't been on the ice with the team, so I tried again.
"You're Derek Zoolander! Yeah, you're Derek Zoolander. You know what it's like to be another model and be in Derek Zoolander's shadow? You wanna hear something crazy? Your work in the winter '95 International Male catalog made me want to be a model. I freakin' worship you, man!"

This quote is dedicated to the men's hockey team and my request to join the team on the ice for just 15 minutes of a practice this year. I'm not talking about the "Skate with the Red" thing that's happening next week. I'm talking about a practice, full pads and all. Hell, I'll even put on the goalie pads if the team needs someone to replace David LeNeveu in net during practice (as long as Doug Murray tones down the slap shot). Just 15 minutes, that's all I ask. I promise I'll try not to make myself look like too big a fool. I freakin' worship you! (From Dec. 6, 2002.)
After those pleas didn't work, I tried something new - running a promo for The Sun with a not-so-subliminal message in it. On January 28, 2003, a new ad debuted with a picture of me on the ice in full equipment, holding up the Campus Hockey Tournament cup, accompanied by the text: "Let This Guy Skate! The only thing better than skating with the men's hockey team is a subscription to the Cornell Daily Sun. Call (607) 273-3606." Still, no luck, even though my fellow editors and I ran the promo several times. So I tried another plea in my column a month later.
I'm running out of space to jabber on about the team, but I will mention this before I go. Although temporary treatments for Big Red hockey fever are available, there is one possible cure, which hasn't been released to the public and may never be. I still cling to the hope that I might experience it though, for it is the chance to skate with the team at a practice. (From Feb. 14, 2003.)
Still, no luck, even though the "Let This Guy Skate!" promo continued to run. In the end, I never actually got to step on the ice with the Red, although celebrating the 2003 ECAC championship in Albany with them was pretty cool.

Why am I bringing all this up three years later, you might be asking? Well, it turns out that some guy in Montreal figured out a way to skate with his favorite team - one that I didn't even consider. While the Canadiens were practicing on Monday, this random dude, who only is identified as "Raphael," was standing by in full hockey equipment. Eventually, he just jumped on the ice, at which point he skated in on former Hart Trophy winner Jose Theodore and took a couple of shots on the goalie, which, not surprisingly, Theodore saved. Finally a coach and an arena worker got Raphael off the ice. He wasn't arrested, and apart from 15 minutes of fame, he won't face any consequences at all, it appears.

The Canadiens were even good sports about the incident. Theodore said, "I thought about going out of the net and not playing into his game, but then I thought he had the (courage) to go on the ice, so I let him have a free shot at me." (I'm guessing the edited word here was "balls.") And winger Alexei Kovalev added, "Maybe he was wondering if we need a right-handed shot and tried to prove he can play on our team. You need one of those things to give us a laugh."

Dammit, I so should have just jumped out there with the Cornell team and just taken a few shots on David LeNeveu.


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