Chapter Three: The Locker Room
Meanwhile, in the Warriors’ locker room, Brody is being warned by multiple teammates to stay away from a player on the opposing team between his own musings about the night of fantastic sex with Hayden.
(A note- During the spring 2010 playoffs, two Nashville Predators players got into trouble with their team and coach while in Phoenix because they’d gone out to a bar in Scottsdale—reputedly under the guidance of Coyotes’ ‘bad boy’ Paul “BizNasty” Bisonnette—and came back to their hotel not only after curfew but accompanied by some of the bar’s little people staff. While the details are unconfirmed, their behavior was problematic enough that they were suspended (by the coach) for a game (oddly, the only game the Predators won in that series.) Teams/coaches/players take the playoffs very seriously (it’s not all wacky playoff beards), so it strikes me as odd that Brody was at a bar and then went home with Hayden for the night, the whole night. Granted, this Vipers vs Warriors series is taking place in the Warriors’ home city, so the team isn’t staying all together in a hotel. (Although teams have been known to do so in their home towns during playoffs to keep the players focused.) Still, Brody made a point of how he’s dedicated to keeping his nose clean and focusing on the playoffs in order to make a good showing when he enters free agency at playoffs' end. I’m not saying that he couldn’t have been swept off his feet, so to speak, when he saw Hayden and lost control of himself, but this sort of thing never comes up.)
One of the things that comes up for Brody while he’s preparing for the game is how he’d woken up cuddled up with Hayden, that he’d even pulled her closer during the night. He muses how this is odd because normally “he gently rolled his companion over, needing space and distance in order to fall asleep” (36). Once again, the fact that he is, through no control of his own, reacting differently to Hayden than to any other woman he’s ever met tells him (or will, eventually) that she is the One. It’s a very common romance novel trope. Of course, despite all the “evidence” telling both of these characters that they are Meant For Each Other, I’m sure there’ll be wacky hijinks before reaching a happily ever after (what with there still being 100 pages to go.)
While in the locker room pre-game, we meet some of Brody’s teammates. When they find out that he’d slept with someone new the previous night, they rib him about it, asking if he’d bothered to get her name. Until now, Brody has been the team’s Casanova. He ponders this, wondering if they’re reluctant to see him in a new light because each member of the team fits a niche—there’s the super serious captain, the wise mentor, the prankster, etc. This is convenient—in one passing thought, Brody’s subconscious can paint an image of the team for the reader while acknowledging that it is, in some ways, a clichéd and one-dimensional view, thus clearing the author from blame. (Mind you, in a novel this short there’s just no likely way the author could introduce and flesh out every teammate. Instead, they are pared down to their function, just as Darcy functions as instigator of Hayden’s sexual liberation.)
The captain is Mr. Serious, probably an allusion to “Captain Serious”, Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks. (See, for example this article) I’m not a Blackhawks fan (in fact, there’s only team in the NHL I dislike as much as I dislike the Blackhawks) but even I knew that Toews is called Captain Serious. That article says that Patrick Sharp is that team’s prankster, and a quick google search confirms as much. So I’m beginning to think that the author is a Blackhawks fan.
While I’m talking about labels and pranksters, a moment here on the Warriors’ team prankster, Derek Jones. The caliber of his pranks are wildly disparate, since we only learn of two. The first is hypothetical- he declares he wants to toilet paper the team owner’s soon-to-be-ex’s house because she keeps making allegations about the team. Brody’s response was similar to mine, “Grown men don’t toilet paper people’s homes” (38). Brody probably means that Derek needs to grow up, and the narrative does say that the prankster is only 21.
The other prank Derek has performed is replacing the team’s goalie’s pads with “pink Hello Kitty ones” (38). On first glance, this seems like a reasonable prank, but in actuality it really isn’t. First, when would he have done this? There’s no way that someone wouldn’t have been in enormous trouble with the team (to the point of fines) if this had happened to the point where the goalie had actually had to wear them for a game. (Professional sports are big business.) At best the goalie could have been forced to wear them for warmups (although even that is unlikely), more likely for practice. (Also, he probably would just have worn his practice pads, if the prankster wasn’t smart enough to hide those too.) But far more important is that Hello Kitty pads simply don’t exist. I talked my equipment-loving goalie friend Flurry about this to be sure. When I mentioned them, her eyes got big and she wanted them. The only way to get them would be to have a company like Brian’s to make a custom set, and even then my guess would be they’d refuse unless they could get a license. This prank would be prohibitively expensive if at all possible. Yes, Derek is a professional athlete, but at 21 he’s probably making the minimum salary. That’s a hell of an expenditure, which would also require the participation of the equipment manager and others, for a prank that could have lasted maybe a few minutes’ worth of enjoyment. Granted, Derek could have taken a set of pads and painted them pink and put Hello Kitty stickers on them, but it would still require quite the expenditure (even used goalie pads are costly) and help.
This is also quite the spectrum of pranks, from musing on toilet papering to paying thousands of dollars for custom pink pads to make fun of the team’s goalie.
Anyway, Derek the Prankster is angrier at Sheila-the-soon-to-be-ex for her allegations of sleeping with one of the Warriors players than the illegal gambling accusations. The team immediately looks at Brody to see if it was him, and he deflects onto a Russian right winger named Zelig, who is “one of the few openly gay players in the league” (38). If this is meant to be the NHL, well, I’m impressed by this fictional league’s acceptance and social equality. In real life, the You Can Play Project (http://youcanplayproject.org/) did start with hockey players, and is very impressive, but has yet to lead to any gay players coming out while in the NHL.
I’ll finish up these locker room musings by adding to what we’ve learned about the Chicago Warriors and their league. Evidently their team colors are “blue and silver” (32). Furthermore, while the narrative still does not reference the “Stanley” in the “Stanley Cup,” the patriarchal character on the team has “two championship cups and a career that rivaled Gretzky’s” (35). So the NHL and the Stanley Cup might not exist, but Gretzky does. Methinks maybe there was a licensing issue and Harlequin didn’t want to pay to use certain terms?