The Fictional Hockey League

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

Monday, February 2, 2015

Offside: Post 8

Chapter 11 & 12: Sociopaths Shouldn’t Play Hockey

Duct-taped socks aside, the author of Offside does seem to know her hockey, which is good since this chapter is mostly the hockey game.

Billie’s line takes the first shift and she wins the first face-off against Seth-the-Asshat. Logan gets the puck to one of Billie’s wingers who gets it to her. She gets it around the backwards-skating defenseman, shoots, and scores, all within 7 seconds of puck drop. Unlike, say, the “breakaway” in the novella I interrupted with on Monday, the description and terminology all makes sense.

The crowd, which seems to be almost entirely made of people there to cheer on Billie, goes pretty wild, as if this were a Stanley Cup game instead of a Beer League Hockey game. Billie’s goal and the reaction seem to piss off the other team even more than the fact of her penis-less hockey-playing existence, and they start to target her on the ice.

Logan glanced at her, his expression serious. “These guys are out to get you… you know that right? Especially if you chip away at their pride for the entire game.”

“They can try,” she said carefully, not sure where this was going. “But I’m not worried. It’s no contact.”

“You think guys don’t get hurt? There’s a lot of shoving out there especially when the game gets intense.” He motioned toward the other bench. “It’s gonna get intense.”

“I think that I have more of a chance of getting hurt walking down the street than I do playing in this league.”

“What about your concussion?”

“What about it?” she replied belligerently. The word alone was enough to sting and it sure as hell wasn’t something she wanted to discuss with him. “I’m fine. My doctors say I’m fine.”

I should be in Sweden (185).

I don’t normally quote huge swaths of text, but this is some interesting information, particularly in light of a comment conversation I had last week.

First, Logan is correct that injuries happen even in non-contact hockey, because hockey is a fast-paced game and if you lose control for even a little bit, bad things can happen. On the other hand, there is a referee (he’s mentioned in this chapter, although he seems to hate Billie. Shocking, that.) Shoving should not, in fact, be happening in a non-contact game. There could be some, I guess, if you’re trying to dig a puck out of the corner, but that’s about it, and even that, if it gets the least bit obvious, should be broken up by the ref. If he hates Billie and thus lets it go for a bit, he should get in significant trouble (for letting anything go) with USAHockey or whichever governing body this New Wateford ice rink uses. (And since this rink has 2 sheets of ice and has youth hockey playing there, they’d be out of business seriously quick as soon as someone got hurt if they weren’t covered by USAHockey or something similar.) So while you can probably see where this chapter is going, it shouldn’t be.

Second, indeed what about that concussion? Billie has no symptoms. She should indeed be playing in Sweden if she’s allowed to play at all, frankly. I’m not saying that getting a head injury is ever good, and in fact getting a second one is generally exponentially worse, but professional players continue to play hockey all the damn time. (Look at Crosby.) If she has no symptoms, there is no reason why she can’t keep playing in Sweden. If she has symptoms, she shouldn’t be playing even Beer League. (I had previously decided she was playing non-contact and not allowed to play in Sweden because her doctors feared what would happen if she got hurt again, but… no. That doesn’t actually make sense, particularly in light of the fact that the novel specifies that the Swedish game is high skill and less contact than NHL. 


At any rate, Logan tells Billie to “play smart” and says that he has her back. She refused to change anything for the sake of the other team and goes forth to play as best as she can.

Was it sportsmanlike to make fools of the other team? To stick handle the puck around grown men and make them look like hacks? Hell no, but in the heat of the moment, with so many of them hurtling insults at her—ones that would make a sailor squirm – she didn’t give a rat’s ass  (186).

I don’t actually see a problem with her making them look like fools. It’s not fun to have a ringer on the opposing team, granted. I once played a just-for-fun D-League level game where the coach played on the opposing side. He skated circles around us, ran up the score, and generally made us all look like pylons. But in this case, the guys on the opposing team here deserve it. And also, this is supposed to be the very highest level of Beer League hockey—which means that Billie should be allowed to play her best. It’s not like she’s playing drop-in hockey with the Development League, after all.

The opposing team gets her boxed-in in a corner, trying to get at the puck, and instead of poking for the puck, they start poking at her. They get her in the calves several times and then get a stick up under her jersey and “a ragged piece of blade caught the soft skin under her arm” (188).

I’m trying to figure out how that would work. First, the guy with the “ragged piece of blade” would have had to have known his stick is “ragged” because you check that sort of thing before playing (that’s what the tape (NOT DUCT TAPE) is for.) Second, according to this book, everyone is wearing long underwear (harrumph) so Billie should have been protected.  (Even if not wearing long underwear, I’m sure that Billie, unlike Chris Higgins, wears at least a shirt under her shoulder pads, so there’d be something.) But more important than either of those points, to get the blade up under her jersey, the other player would have had to have the stick essentially upside down in his hands or be standing pretty far from her. If the latter, I don’t see how (amongst pushing and trying to get the puck) he could have intentionally have gotten the blade where he wanted it. If the former, the ref, no matter how bad, should have whistled ages ago.

During this scuffle, which is apparently completely intentional, Seth hisses in Billie’s ear that she’s a bitch who doesn’t belong in the men’s league.

Seth has issues, dude.

Once the whistle finally does blow, Billie turns around and wants to go after Seth. He glances away from her and Billie realizes that the entire rink has gone silent because she’s bleeding.

She was standing in a circle of blood (189).

Holy carp. Did the goon on the other team use the hockey duct tape to lash a freakin’ switchblade to his stick? How does the (rounded!) toe of a hockey stick draw this much blood?

The narrative, moving into chapter twelve, tries to answer this by saying that Seth plays with a wooden stick (no one still plays with a wooden stick. Seriously.)

[Logan] was betting [Seth] was more than aware his stick needed tape, and that the edge was ruined (190, comma error original).

So… Seth goes to the rink, gets ready to play, and realizes his stick needs tape. In fact, if your blade is ruined enough to draw blood, you need a new stick, but sure, whatever. So knowing this, Seth spends the whole game trying to get Billie in a corner, trapped by himself and two other players. Which means that his wingers need to be in on this. Then once he succeeds, he basically just forgets the game and wields his stick as a weapon?

Fuck this guy. He’s not just an asshat misogynist, he’s a sociopath.


  1. YES! This is the part I don't understand, if she can play, why is she not in Sweden? Did she go home for romance? I've been to Sweden, and not only are the guys tall, blonde, and hot, but they are very egalitarian about child care duties. Heck, a look around the NHL will tell you how attractive Swedes are.

    Also, the injury part. Although we are analyzing this incident more closely than a C.S.I. team, I don't know how a stick can do that much damage. Or the logistics of even getting it inside the jersey and up to the supposedly bare parts. And how can all this blood pouring out and pooling? Unless it's an arterial cut, there's not that much blood. If she's standing, it would get absorbed by her other equipment.

    You're right, the author does know her hockey. If not for the logical issues, it could have been a contender for the hockey romance hall of fame, which I have just invented.

    Also, there's a law that states you can't mention Chris Higgins's abs without a photo.

    1. When I play hockey, I'm wearing a sports bra, a long-sleeved, tight-fitting shirt, my shoulder pads, which of course cover most of my chest, including under my sides, and then my jersey. The narrative says that the stick got up under Billie's jersey, then scratched her under the arm. The only thing that makes sense is that she's not wearing a shirt over the bra and that it scratched her armpit. Because frankly, everything else is protected until below the shoulder pads' velcro bits, which would be practically at her waist. (I'm short torso-ed, so there's less space between my shoulder pads' velcro and my breezers than maybe on Billie, but even so there'd not be a lot of room for vulnerability, and it would pretty much be her waist at that point and thus not repeatedly described as a gash "under her arm.")

      But I've also never seen a woman play hockey without wearing a shirt between her sports bra and gear, because gear is gross.

      (Unlike, say Chris Higgins, who is neither gross nor wears a shirt. I expect he also does not wear a sports bra. I COMPLETELY agree that I should abide by the aforementioned Chris Higgins's Abs Law, but this necessitates MORE PHOTOS of said abs. I felt bad not including one in this post, but I think I've used all the ones that float about on the web. Someone must take more. I, uh, volunteer. It's a tough job but someone has to do it. I'll be in Vancouver in April, should Mr. Higgins care to make himself and his abs available to me. Uh, to photograph. I've just noticed that tragically his Wikipedia page makes no mention of his abs.

      And omg yes to your point about the blood. The first time I read the chapter's end, I totally pictured it as like a pool of blood. The second time, when I realized Billie isn't, y'knw, collapsing, I figured a circular sort of spray of blood. But...

      The gash took "more than eight stitches" we learn (which is a really weird description and it gets up to 10 stitches in a later chapter.) I can say that I have, in fact, had an injury that took more than 8 stitches (it took 12: 4 internal, 8 external.) And there was a significant amount of blood-- since it was on my knee, it soaked my sock. But there was no pooling, no spray. As far as I know, it *all* went into my sock and left nothing on the floor. (This was not a hockey injury. It was, uh, an escalator injury, actually.) Had I been wearing hockey gear, you're completely correct, the padding and layers of clothes would have soaked up most of it, just as my (ordinary) sock did. (Had I been wearing hockey gear I'd not have been in a mall, and I certainly wouldn't have cut open my knee because *knee pads* but I'm getting away from your point here.)

      At best, there'd be blood on her jersey-- and if it were a dark colored jersey, you might not even notice it. There'd probably be blood on the inside padding of her shoulder pads. The outside part wouldn't soak it up very well, but her "long johns" (since everyone's wearing them... har har) would also take up most of it. So yeah. The hockey makes a lot more sense than this injury (OR the one that's keeping Billie from playing in Sweden and wooing the attractive, progressive, egalitarian, tall blonds.)