I was glued to the television as the reporter was just finishing interviewing the coach. I could tell from the background that I had to stay focused, Jack and Eric were both behind the Coach waiting their turn.
Of course after what they both accomplished it wasn’t hard to imagine anyone wanting to interview the both of them. Eric was stepping forward now and I held my breath hoping he didn’t say anything to silly since I was sure he was still on an emotional high.
“Eric Maddison joins us now, First round draft pick and considered by some to be the future of this franchise, Eric how does it feel to have a three point game in your Professional debut?” She asked and here we go, come on Eric, don’t let me down.
“I’m not going to lie, it feels incredible. I am so happy right now I could burst. My parents were here to see it and I know my sister is glued to the television, probably even now, and well, I am just so happy.”
The reporter was known to be hard on players so I knew what was coming next before Eric did. “So are you the savior of this team?”
Eric laughed. “No maim, I am just a player on this team. See, Jack explained to me, as well as my father, that in hockey there is no individual, we are a team. If I can help the team I will, of course I will, but in hockey we only play as well as our teammates let us. My three points tonight were because I had help, and there should be a stat for that.”
Then he waved at the camera like a goofy kid and I smiled. He took care of her questions like a pro. Jack did a good job reminding him before the interview I bet and made sure the kid used Dad as the original reference. No one would find fault with that interview.
Eric waved again and then he moved away again toward the locker-room. Jack was up next and this would be interesting. “Now we are joined by Jack Crabb, another recent call up from the Storm, and another three point getter tonight. Jack is it safe to say that the blizzard was so desperate for help that they needed all the storm players that played tonight?”
Oh fuck, no matter what he said this wouldn’t come out right. Shit Jack, smile, my god this was going to be bad.
“I wouldn’t say that, what I would say is that both the Blizzard and the Storm organizations are working overtime to bring you the best games they can. It was stressed to me when I first signed with the team that they and we don’t do this for ourselves, we do this for the hard working people of Buffalo and Syracuse.”
“Jack, I am sure that’s nice and all, but the game tonight, your line did all the scoring. You must have something to say about that?”
“Sure, before the game, Pierre LeBroise talked to me and said, kid we got your back, do you know what that feels like? He told me and my line mates to take as many shots as we could to get in the feel of the game. He knows how hard it is to feel comfortable and he just wanted us in the flow. We got lucky, I mean look at my score,” Jack said laughing.
“We needed that. Pierre has always been a role model for us younger guys, and after what he did for us tonight, you should be interviewing him. Like Eric said, it’s not about the individual, it’s about the team, and alternate Captain LeBroise makes the team work.”
“He didn’t score,” the reporter pointed out. “You can’t win if you don’t score.”
“We can’t win if we are too nervous to shoot. We can’t win if we are afraid the other team is gunning for us and no one has our back. We can’t win if our Goalie let’s in more goals than theirs does, there are a lot of ways to not win, but only one way to win, to be a team.”
“Jack I think you are missing the point of this interview,” she began looking put upon but Jack cut her off, uh oh.
“Am I? We won. We worked our asses off to win this game for the hard working people of Buffalo. You are a reporter for a Buffalo station; you know how hard it is to live here. Maybe you’re right, maybe I missed something. Maybe it’s more than the Buffalo Blizzard winning a game, maybe it’s just Buffalo. Are you part of our team Miss Alvord?” Jack asked.
“I work for channel four Jack, I’m not a member of the Blizzard, if I was I wouldn’t be able to do this objectively.” She countered.
“Oh I didn’t mean the Blizzard Miss Alvord. I meant are you part of our Buffalo team? Are you part of this community? Are you part of what makes this City great or do you stand aside and watch when things get rough? Are you Buffalo, or are you not Buffalo, because when it all comes down to it.” Jack said and then he turned toward the Camera. “It’s all for Buffalo, it’s all for you, the fans. Every member of this team is committed to giving our all every night for this team. If not trade us, because that is what it will take to make this team great. Let’s all be on team Buffalo together.”
Then he turned back to the reporter and looked at her hard. “Are you team Buffalo Miss Alvord?
“Well, um, yes, I am team Buffalo.” She stammered out and Jack looked back at the camera.
“If you are team Buffalo, then get ready, we might be out of it this year, but we are getting ready to play, so come play with us. We’ll be here and we’ll be playing for you, come see us play and join us.”
Then Jack turned and left and I was speechless, me, Maddie Maddison, speechless. That man continues to amaze me.
“Good interview kid,” Pierre said as I walked into the locker room.
“Just calling it as I saw it,” I said with a smirk I knew he would pick up on.
He laughed and then he got control of himself. “You know she will be gunning for you now right?”
“She can, but if she guns for any one player too hard it will make her unBuffalo, if that is a real word. Tonight I made the team part of Buffalo, and if she goes against us, she goes against them. Of course maybe not, but I don’t see the city not wanting a team that’s their own.”
Then Coach was standing there with us. He was handing the captain C to Pierre. “You are going to need this,” he said. “Congratulations, owner wants to see you after you change.”
Coach walked away and Pierre looked at me. “You know this was your little speech that got me this, right?”
“I don’t think so. You were in on the meeting when I first got here. They already had plans for you to be the Captain, or else you wouldn’t have been there, I might have helped move up the process, but they were going to do it regardless.”
“Captain,” he said looking at the C.
“Frenchey, what I told the reporter was true, you did all that, that’s what a captain does. Just keep doing what you already are, and it will all work out for the team.” I said slapping him on the back and I finished going into the locker room to change.
“Jack these are my parents, Jim and Gail Maddison.” Eric said introducing us in the players’ lounge. I had just finished changing and was walking through on my way to get a cab to the hotel.
“Nice to meet you, your son played well tonight, you should be very proud.” I said trying to sound as diplomatic as I could. How do you talk to parents of the girl you are in love with, when they don’t know?
We all began walking to the players parking area and I fell into step with them. “He did, but he wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for you.” Jim said scrutinizing me.
“We play well as a line, along with Cussman of course, we all complement each other.” I said again as we got to the parking lot.
“We are going out to celebrate Jack, would you like to join us?” Gail asked and I knew there was no way I was going to do this. It felt like a lie, when it wasn’t really Eric I wanted to be around.
“That is very sweet Mrs. Maddison, but I just want to get back to the Hotel and make a phone call.” I said being truly honest.
“Oh, do you have a special someone that we are keeping you from?” She asked like mothers will.
“I do have someone, but it is new, and things are going very slow right now, and we are still getting to know each other.” I said again being truly honest. “It’s hard when we can’t be together.”
“I can see that. So what’s this special girls name?” Gail asked and I didn’t know what to say but I was more blindsided by Eric.
He snorted like Maddie does and began laughing in Earnest. We all looked at him now. “I’m sorry, I hate seeing train wrecks and I know this is going to be weird, so I am going to wait in the car.”
I just looked at him like what the hell?
“Dude, I’m young, but I’m not stupid. Anyone could have seen the stupid looks passing between you two. Heck, it’s not like I’m the only one that noticed, the whole team knew, and most of the front office.” Then he looked at his parents and went jogging toward their car and was laughing the whole way.
Both parents then looked at me and I definitely felt like I was back in high school waiting to take my prom date out. “Mr. and Mrs. Maddison, while we haven’t officially even been on a date yet, I can’t stop thinking about your daughter and how wonderful she is, and I hope she feels the same way about me.”
“Maddie, you like Maddie?” Gail asked with a weird look on her face.
“Yes maim, I like Maddie, and because we are in the same organization we can’t go out together, but apparently, according to Eric, everyone already knows.” I said a little harsher than I intended.
“My daughter is concentrating on her future Mr. Crabb.” Her dad said and I knew I was in trouble.
“With all due respect sir, we all our working on our futures, but what is a future if you don’t have someone to share it with. Like I said we are just getting to know each other, but I promised I would call her tonight.”
“Mr. Crabb, Jack, we are only looking out for our daughter.” Jim said a little more friendly.
“Sir, I understand that, but with all due respect sir, I like your daughter, and like I told Mr. Green, if that means I have to change career paths to pursue something with her, then I will.” I said not backing down.
“So mister Green knows about this?”
“He does sir.”
“What did he say?”
“He said that we couldn’t pursue this while we were both with the Syracuse organization. I am playing my heart out to stay here in Buffalo, and if that doesn’t work I will ask for a trade, and if there are no takers I will walk away and find another job.” I said all this without regretting anything at all. Playing for the Blizzard was a dream, but some dreams are more important than others.
“I see,” was all he said.
“You all have a great celebration because Eric deserves it. Remember curfew is midnight, and I will be checking his room. Good night to you both.” I said walking away. I know I totally fucked that up. I knew the minute Maddie’s dad reached for his phone.