He might not be nervous but I sure as hell was. I knew my father was going to be reading us the riot act for Jack quitting. My father was Eric’s juniors coach and he knew something about hockey, and for Jack to quit, with his talent, well dad would not be happy.
Of course if Dad wasn’t happy, I would get to hear about it. I mean don’t get me wrong, I love my dad, but he can be a bit of a control freak and always think he is right, and no matter what my mom says, we are not alike.
We got to Spencer’s, a family owned restaurant in the city of Clay, north of Syracuse and my parents had already beat us here. We went inside and the waitress just smiled and said “your parents are already waiting, follow me.”
I knew I had never seen her before but I am sure my Mom filled her in on everything. She led us around a corner and there they were waiting for us with big smiles on their faces. Oh this was going to be so bad.
“Hey Mom and Dad,” I said closing the distance so I could give Mom a hug. Dad gave me one and then he stuck out his hand for Jack, and they shook like men will do.
“Mr. and Mrs. Maddison Jack said formally with his panty dropping smile.
“Don’t be silly Jack, I’m Gail and he’s Jim, the same two people you met before.” She said falling for his smile. Mom you were so easy.
“Well thank you for that Gail, it is always a trying time meeting the parents of the girl you are in love with for the first time. I think it’s safe to say that the other time we met kind of caught us all off guard.”
“Yes, I think we can safely say that.” Dad said and indicated for us to sit down.
We made small talk while we ordered dinner and when the waitress was gone Dad started right in. “Jack, so you weren’t kidding when you said you would quit.”
“No sir. I won’t lose Maddie, and I will do whatever it takes to be with her.”
“So what are your plans Jack? I mean without Hockey, what will you do?”
Damn it dad. This was going to be an interrogation. Before I could speak up though, Jack laughed, and continued talking.
“A already have a job with one of the local cable channels doing a hockey show once a week, and Mr. Green said something about me being a scout when my career was over. I’m going to see if that’s still an option, if not I have a four year communication degree and will see who might be looking for someone.”
“I see, well looks like you are already taking the reins on this.” Dad said impressed and I was a little relieved. “Of course, it will be hard to give up hockey, it’s a part of you.”
“It was, and it brought me the greatest gift ever, so for that alone I owe hockey more than anything.” He said squeezing my hand.
“I am worried about Eric though. Without you, his numbers have dropped drastically, and I am worried he isn’t strong enough emotionally to be in the league.”
“Yeah he is talented enough. I will continue to see who might be a good line mate for him and let Maddie and mister Green know, I used to do that anyway, before all happened, so I am sure they will take my thought seriously. I’ll keep trying to look out for him as best I can.”
“I appreciate that Jack,” Dad said and then we heard, “so tell us about Haley, we saw some TV footage?” Mom said jumping in.
I took this one and told her everything about the little girl and Jack piped in to say how he saw them at a game and what their sign had said. Then we told her how stories of Eric were giving her strength and about her last appointment coming up.
“Poor thing,” Mom finally said. “I’m glad you two can help. Let me know if you need anything, even embarrassing photo’s of your brother, I’m not above jumping on the bandwagon.”
We all laughed. Dad and Jack talked hockey and who they thought the best players in the league were, and that was even more interesting then what mom wanted to talk about but I tried hard to pay attention to what she was saying knowing Jack would fill me in later. I was a hockey girl at heart.
“You know there is a small movement starting to get that old rule thrown out about the fraternization of players and team personnel. They want to leave things up to the individual team, and not the league. It might take a while but would you go back to playing hockey Jack if they let you?”
“It depends. I mean if its ten years from now, nah, I’d be too old. If it were tomorrow and I would still get to keep Maddie, then maybe, but I really don’t want to think about maybe’s I like concentrating on the here and now.”
“Fair enough, so tell us about your family Jack.” My dad asked and he did and I listened because while we were a couple there was still so much I didn’t know about this man, and I wanted to know all about this man sitting next to me.
I doubted the league would change its policy, but what if they did? What if I could play again? Nope, better not to get my hopes up. Then why was I in the gym today and not the video room. I could work on scouting for Maddie, but here I was in the gym with the other Storm players working on strength and conditioning.
“Come on Crabb, add another fifteen pounds to that. I have this bet with Maddison you see.” Coach Lumm said coming in and I began laughing so hard I almost dropped the bar.
“I will get you for that,” I said getting the bar back on the holder before sitting up. I was pretty much done with my reps anyway so it wasn’t a big deal.
“I couldn’t resist, and you fell for it so bad, anyway, who’s going to be on my team after the draft?” He asked.
“Like I know? You know all I do is rate them and then Mr. Green and Maddie and everyone else go over it. I don’t get any say in the matter.” I responded.
“I was hoping we could get the Hart kid in the second. I think he could be a good goalie.” He said hoping.
“I have him ranked in the third, he played well in states, but Missoula was so outclassed, they never should have made it that far. I’ll look over his tape again and let you know what else I see, and see what you think.” I said and the hope flared in his eyes.
The storm needed a goalie, hell, the Blizzard needed another goalie. Of course when you were the last place team everything took time and when guys were just starting to get good they wanted to be traded to contenders. It was a damned if I do and damned if I don’t moment.
“Thanks Jack,” he said pulling me back into my head.
“No worries, what about the Hoffman kid?” I asked. This was a test.
“Kid has a hole in his glove, Hart will be better.” He said walking away.
He was right, but was Hart worth a second? Some team was going to grab him in the second, but would it be us? I hoped not, but there wasn’t much out there, and we did need a goalie.
“Turn on the television, quick.” One of the players said running into the room “Channel four.”
Someone did and I saw the familiar face of Miss. Alvord taking up the screen. I started walking away and then I heard my name and turned around in an instant.
“I stand before you today upset with myself and what I did to Buffalo. It’s pretty hard to learn a lesson, but to learn it from a sick girl in a hospital is the worst. I visited Haley Mills, you all know her from the Buffalo Blizzard team. She is fighting cancer and when I went in that day I ran into Jack Crabb and Maddie Maddison coming out.”
“Basically they told me off and told me to leave her alone. I didn’t listen, I talked to her, and in talking to her I realized, that what Jack said was right. It isn’t just about Hockey, it’s about the community, and about the people, and especially about this little girl. My heart broke when she told me she didn’t like what I did to Jack and Maddie, and she didn’t want to talk to me.”
“I never realized that reporting the news was so traumatic, but if you could have seen her lying in that bed, hurting, you would understand. In two weeks we are having a benefit, a run for Haley and her family at the Harbor Center. I will be there and I will be running.”
“This little girl taught me some things during our interview and I want to make amends. I will do what is right for Buffalo. I will do what is right by the Blizzard and I will try to do what is right by the people I have hurt. There will be a dunk tank set up at the event, and after the run I will be the first person sitting in it. I ask that Jack Crabb and Maddie Maddison attend the event and take the first shots at dunking me. I can’t think of any two people who deserve it more.”
Then the camera panned out and she was wearing a “we are Buffalo” shirt and I was impressed. I knew Haley had a powerful impact on me, but to change the cold heart of someone like Alvord, well, good for you Haley.
“I’m sorry Buffalo for my past actions, and I want you to know I am doing all I can to fix it. Please join us for the run, if for no other reason than to keep dunking me in the dunk tank.”
“Well what do you know?” Lumm said. “Never liked that woman, but if something happened to change her mind, then I’m glad to see it.”
I was too. I was worried about Haley though, her next treatment was coming. I needed to be there. More importantly she needed me there. I wouldn’t let her down.