The Fictional Hockey League

Critiquing hockey romance novels, of which there are many. Overthinking it is the point.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Body Check: Post 18-

Chapter 10: Time for the Heroine to Change Her Mind

Evidently, this is the same day that Hayden confronted Sheila-the-Soon-to-Be-Ex, which is why she’s upset and decides to meet Brody at the game (leaning on his car). I’ll get to the plot in a moment, but let’s just go ahead and cover the things I think are wrong, or at least questionable, about the understanding of hockey (and the NHL) shown in this scene. (I won’t reiterate what I said in the previous post about game scheduling, although technically that’s this scene, too.)

Hayden thinks that Brody looks particularly good tonight, although she has never thought he didn’t look good, of course, although his “perfect lips [were] slightly chapped” (121).

He’d confessed to licking them too much during games (121).

On the face of it, I could see that. I have the same problem, actually (well, that and the fact that I’m not a professional athlete, so I’m easily out of breath and thus my mouth is open most of the game. Then again, the photos I take at NHL games tells me that many of them skate with their mouths open too.) However, if he’s licking his lips all game, he’s apparently not wearing a mouthguard. And since professional players don’t wear full face cages, Mr Perfect Brody Croft has almost certainly already lost teeth in his career. Also, he’s putting himself at additional risk for spinal damage and concussions (on impact, the jaw often bites down hard, causing additional traumatic brain injury.) For a man as defensive as he is about actually having taken his college career seriously, he’s not taking very good care of himself.

Oh! I just thought of another answer! Maybe he DOES wear a mouthguard, but he’s just got a scarily long tongue so he can lick his lips around it! That might explain how he got so good that Hayden earlier referenced his talented tongue!

This time when Hayden sees him, she notices he’s wearing a “loose wool suit.”

Brody had told her that with the play-offs around the corner, the league expected players to look professional on and off the ice (122).

Sigh. Where do I start? First, the play-offs “aren’t around the corner” if Brody just got finished playing a game six. Second, the author is apparently inventing a reason to have her character wear a suit even though the real NHL actually does require their players to wear suits to and from games—all season/post-season long! (I covered that along with the magic pants in post 7. I... just… need a drink, perhaps…

At any rate, some important things do in fact happen in this scene. First, Hayden kisses Brody right there in the parking lot. He points out that they weren’t supposed to be seen together in public (as per Hayden’s rules). Next, she suggests that instead of going back to her hotel, they go to Brody’s house. The text didn’t make it clear at the time, but apparently whenever the two of them have gotten together it has always been at her hotel because she somehow thinks that it would help her keep things from getting any more serious. Last, they just take Brody’s car to his house, leaving her rental car in the parking lot. Brody points out that her father will see it and know that she didn’t go home. This will negate another of her rules, potentially, that her father not find out about the two of them. All of this points to Hayden softening towards Brody’s desire to have a relationship.

I however, will point out that given that Hayden and her father have spent approximately 4 hours together since her return to Chicago, and none of them near her car, I don’t honestly believe he’ll see and recognize it. (They watched Game 2 together from the owners’ box, they met for the deposition and Presley left first, and they met at the gentlemen’s club party and Hayden left first). Besides, he’s got other things on his mind. And he’s drunk all the time. Maybe I just don’t care enough about cars, but I can rarely recognize my close friends’ cars in any given parking lot even after they’ve driven me some place. There’s no way I would recognize someone’s rental car.

They arrive at Brody’s house, located in Hyde Park (one of the few places in Chicago I’ve actually been! Great bookstores! Doubt Brody goes to them….) The house is large Victorian, well-kept, with lots of flowers. Apparently Brody’s mom takes care of them once a year. I’m not going to dwell on the flowers because they’re not quite on the magic pants order of troubling, but really? Once a year are all his flowerbeds need to be well-taken care of, weed-free, and return perennially? MAGIC FLOWERS.

After Hayden tells Brody that she saw Sheila and spoke with Doug, they head out onto the aforementioned patio. Brody is concerned that he doesn’t measure up to Intimacy-Bridge-Doug because Doug is “probably much better at those intellectual conversations you’re always trying to have with me” and that he feels stupid by comparison (124). A few minutes later, when Brody is trying to convince Hayden that they have a good thing, he says that they “never run out of things to talk about” (125). So…. Just not intellectual things to talk about, eh?

They talk about how Hayden is sad whenever Brody leaves but that also Brody won’t be retiring any time soon, so she decides sex is better than talking and they start making out on the patio. Brody quickly gets Hayden naked and sweeps her off her feet to carry her to his gazebo, where having sex is apparently his fantasy. These two are not all that imaginative in their sexual fantasy realms.

When Hayden asks why he’d never had any of his hockey groupies fulfill this particular fantasy, he confesses that he’s never brought a woman to his home before, which flings Hayden right back into being concerned that he wants more than she can give.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Body Check: Post 17-

Chapter 10: MATH IZ HARD

I know I harped on this in the previous blog post, that the number of away games (3) in the past week just does not make sense unless they’re (awfully quickly) into round 2. This chapter opens with the reveal that:

[T]he series was 3-2, and if they won tonight’s game they’d move on to the second round of play-offs (117).

Let’s put aside the question of how many times Brody flew away from Chicago (and more importantly, Hayden) in a week. Let’s just work out the game situation.

It’s game 6 (if they’ve won 3 and lost 2). And they’re in Chicago, as we’ll learn in a bit (just trust me on that part for a moment.) And… no. If the play-offs are going as the NHL has them, it would be the following:

Game 1 & 2: Chicago
Game 3 & 4: LA
Game 5: Chicago
Game 6: LA
(Game 7: Chicago, if needed)

If the author thinks it’s every other, as I hypothesized in the previous entry, then it would work:

Game 1: LA
Game 2: Chicago
Game 3: LA
Game 4: Chicago
Game 5: LA
Game 6: Chicago
(Game 7: LA, if needed)

Game 2 had to have been in Chicago, as that’s the game that Hayden attended with her father and when Brody heads to LA the team is up 2-0.

Now, that puts Game 3 in LA, after which he apparently flies back to Chicago and manages to attend the party at the “gentlemen’s club”. Game 3 is the one they lost 6-0.

We know nothing about Game 4. If it were in LA, then Brody (and Becker) would have had to fly back to LA presumably Sunday night for on-ice practice in LA before a, presumably, Tuesday game.

Which is absolutely stupid. But even if he’d done that, he’d have had to fly back to Chicago, then to LA, twice more in order for him to have left town/Hayden three times. This chapter confirms the three times again:

And it troubled him how that light left her eyes whenever an away game came up. He’d had to leave town three times this week… (120).

For what? Games 4, 5, and 6? And now we’re having a magical second Game 6 in Chicago because the first two didn’t count? Even if we assume it’s an every-other series, that would put games 4 and 6 in Chicago (which would work for this game) but would only have him out of town for game 5, a single time to upset Hayden.

If you can figure out what this author is thinking with this play-off series, I’d love to know. Got theories? I literally can think of no way for the competing information to work. Even if you count Game 3 (LA, loss 6-0) as one of the times Brody left town in the past week, he’d still have left town only once more (for Game 5, about which we know nothing). GAH!

The LA Vipers win Game 6 pretty easily (5-1), or rather I should say the Warriors lose it. The league tells the players just 15 minutes before puck drop that there will be an official investigation into the bribery claims. There’s no way a team can play well with that hanging over their heads. Not to mention, although the text doesn’t really talk about it, but players have to be looking at each other suspiciously. Which one(s) took the bribe, if anyone? Who went to the league to tell them that he knew something? Which player is sleeping with the owner’s wife? (Well, we know, and Brody suspects, who that one is.) On-ice is not the same as off-ice, but it’s awfully hard to trust your teammates on-ice if you can’t off-ice. And hockey is about as much of a team sport as exists. (No one can skate faster than the puck, therefore you have to be about passing and intercepting and knowing where your teammates are and trusting them to do their jobs, etc.)

With morale already terrible and attention not on the game, Brody chooses the walk to the ice as the time to confront his captain. Why would you do that?! I mean, it could potentially ease Brody’s mind (not likely—no matter what he learned, he’d still have questions/anger) but it can only upset the captain. Your team is walking onto the ice to play Game 6 in a play-off series. You are professionals. You get paid a ton of money. You should be focusing.

At any rate, Captain Serious/Craig confirms that it was him—he is, in fact, sleeping with Sheila. And he went to the league because he had suspicious about games that the team lost that they shouldn’t have and he won’t play on a team with people who would sabotage the games for money.

I understand that he can have suspicions but… I have seen the worst league the in the team (statistically) beat the best on any given evening. Someone has a bad night, one team gets all the lucky bounces, whatever. Things happen. For me to buy Craig’s explanation, he has to have magic abilities.

Speaking of bad timing, in the middle of the third period, after a line change, Becker takes a moment to ask Brody if he is staying away from Hayden as he (Becker) suggested. Brody thinks about that, reflecting, that

[f]or the first time in his life, he was with a woman he actually liked hanging out with (120).

Questionable use of prepositions aside, seriously? The first time ever? He’s never ever met a woman in his 29 years who he enjoyed spending time outside of bed with? Wow. Okay.

Post game, Brody heads out, expecting to head to Hayden’s hotel. Instead, she’s leaning on his car (and we’ll talk more about this scene in the next post). She can tell from the body language of people leaving the arena that it was a loss and she asks if that means the Warriors are out of the playoffs.

“No, the series is tied. We’ve got another chance to win it tomorrow” (121).

The tied part is correct. But holy crap, no. Teams don’t play back-to-back in the playoffs, they just don’t. (I know, I know, this isn’t the NHL.) They don’t even play back-to-back that often (although they do) during the 82 game regular season. Sigh. And they should be playing in LA for Game 7, which makes it even MORE unlikely they’d not be playing immediately again. (I suspect the book will put Game 7 in Chicago but I haven’t read far enough to know for sure.) Then again, what with all the away games Brody has been flying to (potentially without his team) we’re on something like game 9 already anyway….

Monday, August 25, 2014

Body Check: Post 16-

Chapter 9: Plot! And the Pretzel of Guilt

I’m not going to spend time on this next scene because there’s not much to poke fun at and it’s also not very interesting. But it is plot related, so I’ll quickly sum up: Hayden goes to visit Sheila-the-soon-to-be-ex to see what she meant about Presley’s drinking. She says that Presley had made some bad financial decisions which lead to his drinking, which cycled to more bad choices and more drinking. Sheila confronted him about the drinking, after which Presley slept with another woman. He confessed but blamed it on Sheila’s nagging. When she confronted him again, while drunk, he admitted to fixing games.

Sheila also says that she married Presley not just for his money, which she could have gotten by marrying someone else, but because she wanted someone who would take care of her and put her first, “financially and emotionally” (111).

This confession makes Hayden think about how she also is looking for someone stable, someone who would put her first, someone like Intimacy-Bridge-Doug. Obviously this is meant as a turning point, for Hayden to start thinking about the possibilities with Brody. But I don’t actually see their situations as being equal here. Hayden isn’t looking for someone to take care of her every need, just someone who puts their relationship ahead of his career. I feel like this is a really forced comparison necessitated only by plot.

As Hayden leaves her almost-ex-stepmother’s house, she answers a call from Intimacy-Doug. In between the bits of dialogue, the text informs us:

…since they’d gone skating after the [gentlemen’s] Club party, she and Brody had been having fun not only in the bedroom, but out of it. They’d gone back to the Lakeshore Lounge for dinner, gone skating at Millennium Park. Brody had even taken her to the Art Institute of Chicago, where he’d spent the entire day following her from painting to painting and listening to her rave about each one (113).

Doesn’t he… like… have hockey to play? Practices and games? Playoffs are a best of seven, usually with 1 day off between games, sometimes 2. And I know I complained in an earlier post that a 2 hour on-ice drill practice during playoffs is unlikely, but a complete day off for them to go to the Art Institute? No. Besides, half of the games they should be playing ought to be in another city (specifically LA.)

The text goes on to address that, sort of.

He’d had three away games this past week and each time he’d left to catch his flight she’d had to bite her tongue (113).

Wait, what? Okay. The only way for this to work would be if he’d flown back to Chicago after game three, then back to LA for game 4 as well. Then they’d come back to Chicago for game 5, back to LA for game 6 and… even then, that’s only two away games. Because if a game 7 was forced, it’d have to be in Chicago.

If, since this is not necessarily the NHL (conveniently), I suppose that game 1 could have been in LA (it’s never specified), game 2 in Chicago (the one that Hayden was at), game 3 in LA (the one where the Warriors lost 6-0), and thus just alternating each game. Then Chicago would have games 4 and 6, and Chicago would have 5 and 7. But even then, that’s still only two away games “this week” because this would be after game 3 (thus 5 and 7).  Also, if this is the case, the series is over.

OR! I may have figured it out. Perhaps they’ve moved past the first round. So they’d have had to beat LA in game 4 (which should have been in LA, so this could be the first of the three mentioned away games) and again in game 5 (in Chicago.) Then they could head out to play games 1 and 2 against another team, elsewhere. Although it doesn’t read that way, since the above sentence suggests, with “each time” that each away game had a separate flight. So the Warriors waste time, money, and jet fuel by flying back to Chicago between 2 games in another city? Also, if this is the case, you’d think the narrative would have mentioned somewhere that they got out of round one.

The lack of hockey playoff understanding aside, Hayden and Doug discuss their relationship a bit. Doug wants to come visit her in Chicago which is enough information for Hayden to finally admit that she’s been seeing someone in Chicago. Doug is pretty taken aback by this information and in response,

The pretzel of guilt in her chest tightened into a vise around her heart (116).

Really? The pretzel of guilt?