The Fictional Hockey League

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

Monday, May 18, 2015

Knock Me for a Loop: Post 5

Row 4: With Friends Like These…

(Posts for the foreseeable future may be a bit brief and slapdash. Proofreading? Revision? What are those!? Sincere apologies—it’s been a heck of a few months and the Commissioner is digging her way out of them.)

The text chooses not to answer the All Important Question of whether or not Grace went to the hospital to see Zack, instead jumping to one month later. Zack is at home, using a wheelchair, and moping. He considers his giant television, which he bought in order to cover up a hole left by Grace’s whirlwind of destruction* and the fact that he misses his dog (whose name was apparently originally Bruiser.)

*Apparently, the hole in the wall was left by Grace throwing a hockey trophy through it.

He’d come home to find the ass end hanging in the air like the minuscule hockey player had gotten stuck during some botched escape attempt (51).

I include this quote as an example of the author just trying too damn hard. Because I read that and assume that it’s supposed to be funny, but all I can think about is how a trophy is highly unlikely to stick that way into a wall, and even if it did, it’s not the hockey player’s ass that you’d really notice since the rest of the trophy, which is much larger, would have to be hanging down below it. It just makes no sense.

Whatever. So, in the past month, Zack has been knitting, but now when there’s a knock at the door he quickly shoves his current project (blankets for the local VA hospital) between the couch cushions because “[k]nitting was a private hobby” (52).

If the media found out, it would be a public relations nightmare. His fellow Rockets would rib him endlessly, call him a pussy, a pansy, a eunuch, and worse. His fans would probably do the same, as well as losing respect for him and going so far as booing him when he skated onto the ice (52).

Remember how in Her Man Advantage Axel (the hero) was so afraid people might find out about his background as a member of a Helsinki biker gang and also fear it would lose him endorsements and such? And my point was that that’s so incredibly spinnable—look where this athlete came from, isn’t it amazing? I kind of feel like this is the polar opposite (knitting instead of biker gang-ing) but with the same general likely outcome, which is to say generally positive in the media. It’d be a one-day fluff piece during a slow news week for his team and maybe end up as a piece of trivia on the jumbotron during a game. (Like when Paul Bissonnette had his Lulumonunderwear stolen from the practice rink’s locker room.)

I mean, I can’t speak for other hockey players and how they might call Zack “a eunuch, and worse” (although honestly I don’t think ‘eunuch’ is the first, or even third, insult that comes to most people’s minds these days) because I suppose they might… but given how much time is spent talking about the tight knit spirit necessary in the locker room, I don’t think it’s necessarily a given.

Plus, knitting is having a resurgence, and while it is absolutely still female dominated, there are well-known male knitters, including Russell Crowe.

And while I don’t know if any current NHLers who knit, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some.

(Actually, what came to mind was Zenon Konopka and his pet rabbit, Hoppy, for whom he has jerseys made for each team that Konopka plays on. Do you think he gets called a eunuch because he has an effeminate seeming pet?) 

Would YOU call this man a eunuch?
In the time it takes for whoever is at the door to get to his living room, Zack thinks about the game in which he got injured. I’ll spare you the details—partly because I’m writing this at 2am—but he starts by thinking it was his fault because he’d been distracted in the six months since Grace left him and then three paragraphs later he thinks about how amazing he’d been playing that game, “blocking shot after shot” until “something had just gone … wrong” (53 ellipsis original.) While the text doesn’t talk about memory loss as a symptom of his concussion (which he has and which gives him headaches, even now a month on, which is definitely worrisome), I’d say that this textual suggestion (presumably unintentional by the author) of memory loss worries me… Okay, not really. Because fictional characters.

Then he thinks about his other secret hobby (still in the time it takes for his guests to get from front door to living room), which is watching soap operas. (One of said soap operas is Guiding Light, which was cancelled, according to Wikipedia, in 2009. So apparently Zack is also time traveling?)

Gage and Dylan finally get to the living room and their first question is to ask “Don’t you ever get out of this damn thing?” about the wheelchair, which seems rather insensitive since Zack still has a cast on his leg.

The friends are only there to berate Zack for sulking and for not going to physical therapy. Zack has blown off all of his appointments, in part because there were “no guarantees that he’d ever play hockey again” (56). That seems pretty reasonable. I mean, yeah, obviously Zack should be going to PT but it’s understandable how a pro athlete (or really anyone, but especially an athlete) might fall into despair and depression after a concussion and the news that he might never play again. But Gage and Dylan think that the answer is to tell him that they aren’t going to be his friends anymore until he starts to shape up. Sometimes you have to cut ties with someone who has depression for your own mental and emotional well-being, but these guys are totally full of BS if they think that doing so will actually help Zack.

And this isn’t some hinting around from these characters—it’s full on ultimatum.

“That’s it,” Gage bit out, pushing to his feet. “I’m done with this shit. Sit there and mope. Feel sorry for yourself. Crawl into a hole and hide from life. Whatever” (57).

And then a bit later, after Gage has actually “stomped off”, Dylan agrees.

“And I think Gage may be right—until you get your head on straight, figure out whether you want your life back or you want to sit here feeling sorry for yourself… I don’t think we can come around anymore. You really are on your own”

Clearly Gage and Dylan are not exactly the stick-by-you thick-and-thin help-a-friend-when-he’s-down types.  What jerks, frankly.

In addition, why are Gage and Dylan the only ones coming by? Dylan is a reporter and Gage is… I have no idea (if I knew, I’ve already forgotten.) Where are the teammates? For that matter, wouldn’t you think that the NHL would have people coming by to check on Zack? People to badger him into going to his doctor and physical therapy appointments because I would think that would be, essentially, part of his damned contract? That’s just a guess on my part… and if I were writing a novel about hockey players, particularly one wherein a vast portion of the plot depended on the recovery route of a main character, I’d do some freakin’ research. 

(NOTE: I'm not ignoring comments, I promise. I'm just ... in a weird place and having gotten responding to them yet. But I LIVE for comments, so don't let this stop you from making them. Now, Blogger is apparently keeping people from commenting, which suuuuuucks, but I appreciate when you get them through.) 


  1. It seems to be relatively easy to get rid of a whole team of good friends so that the only person that Zack can rely on is the meanest ex-fiancée in the world. Magical hand wave and there we are. Ignore the possibility of hiring a dog-loving nurse or physiotherapist as well.

    Let's get on to the more important topic. Masculinity and hockey players. I have noticed that many hockey players have dogs, but I hardly ever see photos of cats. (No matter how much I want to.) Are cats not masculine enough? Are they pussies? As for knitting, I was hoping you would mention Jacques Plante, and you did. In my opinion, if you already play hockey you should be confident in your masculinity and be able to choose any hobby you want. Even knitting.

    1. Hmm, good point about cats. You'd think that with all the away games, there'd be a whole lot *more* players with cats instead of dogs. (Shane Doan has horses, but that's the only other non-canine pet I can think of.)

      (Out of curiosity, I googled "hockey players with cats" and came up with a hockey players with pets blog, and at the very top, Eric Locke holding a chicken. I had to look up who Eric Locke is, but I'm still highly amused because chicken.

      In other news, you might be interested in this link: )

      As for masculinity, holycarpyes. I mean, if you play *hockey*, the sport that is all about strapping knives to your feet and hitting other giant men, you'd think that you can pretty much do whatever you want without risking the loss of your "man card".