The Fictional Hockey League

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

Friday, February 27, 2015

Offside: Post 18

Chapter 23: I’m mad that you’re doing what I asked you to because it seems like it’s too easy for you to do it

The narrative jumps ahead three weeks from the previous chapter and finds Billie by herself at the “arena” (by which I’m still pretty sure the author means rink), skating at crack-of-dawn early because it’s the last time slot left of her $1000 coaching of Logan. Logan, however, has left town for the week, apparently for Magical Reasons (we’ll learn why later, but even then I sort of thing it’s Handwave-y Reasons.) No, the text never before made it clear that there were to be 4 coaching sessions.

The time alone is spent working on edges (when you use the, well, edges of your skates to dig in and turn quickly. My coach loved him some edges. Fortunately, they’re something I’m not terrible at.) and pondering how much she misses Logan and how much it bothers Billie that Logan is perfectly fine with keeping their relationship a secret just like she asked him to. Apparently Billie wants to keep the secret, because of her fear of damage to her already tattered reputation, but it should be a hardship for Logan to keep said secret. It’s not like he didn’t tell her upfront and immediately that he’d be fine with people knowing, not like he’s seeing her on the side while married to Sabrina, Goddess of the Folded Towels. I assume it’s this bizarre paradoxical desire of Billie’s that leads to some of her upcoming asinine behavior, but more on that later.

First, we have to start redeeming the townspeople. Some of the female teenaged hockey players have started to watch Billie skate by herself, as they have practice at the same time, on the other sheet of ice, as the donated charity coaching lessons. They ask Billie to teach them some of her drills. This is adorable and exactly how the town should be treating their home-grown TWO TIME OLYMPIAN. (I know that when a female ice hockey Olympian came to Phoenix recently, all of my friends’ hockey-playing daughters were super excited to meet her and to attend a coaching session with her. And that’s Pheonix, Arizona. You know, the place where it routinely gets to be 116degrees Fahrenheit in the summer? The desert where fans of other NHL teams make fun of Coyotes fans not because the team is terrible (which at the moment it is) but because “Hockey doesn’t belong in the desert”? (To be fair, there’s actually a lot of hockey in the desert. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a very good player and yet I’ve played or skated at 6 different rinks/arenas and there was at least one more on the west side that I’d never been to. But still, not exactly known town for hockey. UNLIKE New Waterford, which apparently is supposed to be.

Sorry, didn’t mean to rant. It’s just another part of why the Great New Waterford Cootie War makes no sense.

But it was a relevant rant because the narrative tells us that the girls’ team coach, Dave, was originally one of the Misogynistic Asshats who didn’t want her to play.

“I have to be honest though. I was opposed to you playing in our league. Hell I almost considered pulling out and driving twenty minutes to the city to play, … You’ve shown me that the desire to play trumps all that small stuff” (2383-84).

Frankly, that latter part is the attitude that a coach for a girls’ team should have started with. Asshat. I’m glad my (non-existent) daughter doesn’t have him for a coach.

He continues on to say that he thinks that everyone in the league is playing at a higher level thanks to Billie and that most of the players disagree with what Seth-the-Sociopath did. (Seth, we learn by the way, has ceased to play in the league and started playing “in the city.” That sure was an anticlimactic end to that conflict. I guess the “I slept with your sister but it was actually you!!!!” dramallama is now more important.)

He also says that the guys who complain that they can’t be “guys” around Billie are full of it, since they act the same around Billie as they did without her there. See? I feel (vaguely) vindicated since that’s what I said before.

Anyway, Billie forgives him. (In her shoes (skates?) I probably would have, too. As a reader, I’m still cranky, but that’s kind of my schtick.) So Billie coaches the girls and it gives her a “glimmer of something—a spark. A vision of what she could accomplish” (386). The narrative leaves Billie’s POV at this point to rejoin Logan, but I’m guessing that Billie’s Great Plan will involve coaching. And while that’s great and I hope that that’s what will bring her satisfaction, I’m somewhat surprised it’s taken her this long to come up with that. Hockey coaching is not exactly an unheard of career path for, y’know, former hockey players.

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Logan is eager to get home. He’d gone to the west coast in order to visit various clients and consider a “some reality crap type of television show” (386). We learn almost nothing about this trip except to see him flirted with outrageously by “some rich man’s bored trophy wife” who touches his thigh a lot, while all he can think of is his planned Skype session with Billie (387).

Then it’s the next morning, and Logan is actually on the airplane home, being flirted with outrageously by multiple women in first class. He tells them he’s gay to shut them up. Yes, yes, we get it, Logan is hot.

Oh, but lest you think that all this travel would keep you from being updated on the state of Logan’s trousers, you should not have worried. For you see, Billie apparently wore something super skimpy and did super naughty things on Skype the night before, which led to a long cold shower then (why not just take matters into your own hands, Logan?) and now, on the plane, he’s afraid he’ll spend the whole flight “sporting the hard-on to end all hard-ons” (391). I feel like I need some sort of special icon for News Bulletins Pertaining to Logan’s Penis.

Logan lands back home, presumably at an airport in “the city” on Friday night, meaning he’s missed the week’s hockey game, but he drives as quickly as possible to make it to the town’s One & Only Bar & Grill to join the players post-game.

Only, HORROR OF HORRORS. There’s another player STARING AT BILLIE’S BUTT. Gasp! Shock! Horror!

A butt that belonged to Logan and maybe it was about time the whole damn town knew about it (393).

Yes, Logan. Maybe your irrational jealousy and creepy possessiveness should overrule your promise made to the woman you’re so wild about and thinking about Forever with. Oh wait, no. Strike that.  Reverse it.

Tune in next time for Showdown at the Only Bar in Town.


  1. I'm starting to feel sorry for these romantic heroes. Women hitting on them all the time, and all of it unwanted. And those pesky erections, always popping up when they're least expected. They clearly have problems normal guys don't face.

    But to leave the story for a moment—because it seems to be pausing anyway—isn't it the lack of fans that's the problem in Arizona? The radio station here would make a big deal out of the fact that you could free tickets to Coyotes if you bought a six-pack of beer at Ralph's or something like that. But it wasn't the desert locale, because why would Florida, California, or Nevada make sense? I also heard that Glendale was the wrong place to locate the team, instead of someplace closer to the Phoenix. But you would know a lot more than I do.

    And speaking of arenas, it may be a Canadian thing, but arena and rink are used interchangeably here.

    1. Also, thanks for the heads up on arena vs. rink. I'll continue to use them as having very different connotations but I will now stop calling books on it. I'll assume the authors are all Canadian. ;)

  2. I know that much of the Canadian hockey media blames the Yotes problem on lack of fans but it's actually far, far more complicated than that. To tie it back to what I was talking about above, it's my understanding that there was only one rink in AZ before the Yotes came to town, and now there's 6 and there are tons of teams and leagues (of all ages, genders, etc.) All except the original rink have multiple sheets of ice and everything. So thanks to the Yotes, people like hockey in Phoenix and that tends to carry over to wanting to see games.

    But, as you said, putting the arena in Glendale was a HUGE mistake. I can kind of see why they did it -- Glendale gave the then-owners a big break. There was lots of land to build on. And the valley's population did seem to be moving out that way (west). But the commute across the valley is killer. (Without traffic, it would take me about 40 minutes to get from where I lived in the east valley to the arena. But to get there for a game, which means going through rush hour traffic, it takes 2 hours. On a weeknight, regularly for 40-some games? That's ... no.)

    Then the team got horribly mismanaged-- not just the players/staff/whatever, but I also mean that the owner did his best to run the team into the ground intentionally because he was mad at the NHL not letting him sell it to the guy who invented the Blackberry. So there was no marketing, terrible media deals made, etc.

    Then came the era of uncertain ownership, which made it nearly impossible to build a fan base. If *every* season you're told your team is probably moving to Quebec (or Las Vegas or wherever) how attached are you going to get?

    Theoretically the new ownership understands the unique makeup of Phoenix-- which is to say that Phoenix/Glendale, during the winter months, is one of the largest Canadian cities. ;) And that the Coyotes are Phoenicians' second favorite hockey team. (Because everyone's a transplant and brings their hometown team bias with them.)

    But of course, this season the team has sucked *so damn much* and now from what I understand all the season ticket holder benefits are being cut, so they are still having a hard time getting butts in seats (although statistically the ticket sales both single and season are actually up from previous seasons.)

    My point is it's not actually lack of fans or lack of interest, it's a complex web of multiple mistakes made over a period of years that will take multiple seasons to fix even if all goes well.

    (It doesn't help that because the team's troubles were so well publicized that that's the first thing people think of when the Coyotes come up in conversation. Nevermind that I see that more empty seats on tv when watching Devils or Panthers games. And Nashville went through a similar problem but survived and now hockey does really well there.)