“We can have Cussman or Bradtz, out of the names you mentioned they are the only ones anyone is willing to part with.” Green said like it was terrible to be regulated to just those two.
We went over the positives and the negatives till we were blue in the face, and if they wanted to make a decision they would have to make it. I was going to be late for practice.
“Gentleman and ladies, I need to get down to practice. If you have any other questions, let me know. I’m happy to help, really, but I don’t want coach mad at me.” I said standing up.
“Crabb, not a word about this. We may have to part with someone to pull this off.”
“Of course sir, I understand.” I did understand. I had been traded enough to know that. I would feel bad for whoever it was but sometimes guys were looking to move.
I hurried through changing but was still the last one on the ice. Coach called me out before I made it to the team huddle. “Crabb, you’re a minute late, don’t let it happen again.”
“No sir,” I said smiling. I was smiling because he didn’t fine me or make me do extra sprints. Scoring a goal must have helped my standing in his eye. I wondered what they would do. Tomorrow we had another game and I was sure the shit would hit the fan before then. The main squads were coming up on the trade deadline so things needed to happen.
We finished practice and all of a sudden Coach yelled out Lars, Crabb, my office. Son of a bitch they traded me after they said they wouldn’t. I felt like such an ass for helping them. I was halfway to the lockerroom when I thought about it. No one could stop me and Maddie now. Hell, a trade sounded good. I’ll keep the apartment and come back in the off season and see if we can pick back up. I was actually smiling as the two of us headed to the coach’s office.
“Why are you happy?” Lars asked like he was pissed he was being traded.
“To be honest I’m kind of getting used to it at this point. Besides, I have this girl, and being here is making it real hard to be with her.” I said flushing a bit.
He actually laughed. It may have been the first laugh I had actually heard from him since being here. It was a hardy laugh, and from a defenseman, well you know what I mean.
Then he slapped me on the back. “Someday I hope to be as happy as you.”
“The day isn’t over yet.” I said smiling back at him.
Then we reached the open conference room door and walked inside.
“Jack, would you mind closing the door.” Mr. Green said as we came in. There were the same faces I had seen last time and a couple others. Coach Lumm was there along with his assistant, and another woman I had never seen before.
“Gentlemen, have a seat.” Mr. Green said indicating the two at the far end of the table from him. I smiled. I wasn’t going to attack the man across a boardroom. I get traded; I get traded, no big deal at this point. I get dropped, I chase after Maddie. I was actually happy for once in my life and it wasn’t about hockey.
“Well it’s that time of year. Two weeks to the trade deadline and teams are calling and we are calling them. We have told all the organizations that we are willing to trade anyone, for the right price, and while it pains me to say this, all the interest is in you Lars.”
“A lot of teams are interested in that big defenseman that can help them down the stretch. When I say we had lots of calls, I mean lots of calls. I put Miss. Maddison on this to get the best return for you and you might want to hear what she has to say.”
“Lars, I know you don’t know me well but, I think I did right by everyone here. In the end we decided to go with New York, they made us the best offer, and from the way they expressed using you, I think you are going to be real happy.”
“The Crossovers or the Pops,” Lars asked confused. New York actually had two teams. Both teams were playoff hopefuls, and their NEHL squads were both hurting for defensemen. He would be welcomed on either team.
“The Crossovers,” Maddie said smiling. “They lost Eller and Hurst early in the season and last night they lost Whiner. Let’s just say they called, we countered, and they gave up a lot for you.”
Lars just nodded. “They have their affiliate in Binghamton, at least I won’t be going far.” He finally said.
“Oh Lars, you misunderstood me, you aren’t going to Binghamton, you are going to New York. They want you on the main squad. After an hour on the phone with them I convinced them that you could be the main piece in their penalty kill. Your plus minus is unheard of and they are desperate only being two points ahead of the Lakes for a playoff spot.”
“The Main squad,” he asked in disbelief.
“Yeah your twenty six games with the Blizzard this year helped. You never let in a goal while on the ice and that made you the perfect piece to what they were looking for. It’s no secret this organization is rebuilding, and well, you’re our captain, we wanted to do right by you. You fly out tomorrow and a rep from the team will meet you at the airport.”
“I’m back in the bigs, and on a playoff team?” He still looked shocked, but happy shocked. “Um, thank you.” He said to Maddie.
“Thank you Lars for being the captain we needed down here.” Mister Green said taking back over the meeting. “Is there anyone you would like to recommend for the captaincy before you leave?”
Lars looked shocked still so I doubted he would have anyone in mind but then he turned and looked at me. “If Jack isn’t being traded today he would make an excellent captain. He’s been around enough, and while he hasn’t been to the bigs, he understands kids. Other than him, maybe Ehkblad or Steen, that’s just my opinion.”
“We value your opinion, you have been our captain for two years, and we don’t let our valuable players down. Jack, you are the new captain of the Storm.” Mister Green said without even thinking about it or consulting anyone at the table.
Lars laughed. “Guess that girl will have to wait a little longer.” He said clapping me on the back.
I immediately looked at Maddie and she was not happy. Oh shit, maybe that didn’t exactly come out right. Of course it’s not like I could say anything in here. Shit Lars, why did you have to say anything.
“Lars, Roger will walk you out and explain some more of the details of your traveling plans, but let me say, we appreciate everything you have done for us and we all hope nothing but the best for you on the Crossovers, at least this year, next year we hope to be battling you hard.” Mr. Green said standing up along with everyone around the table and walked over to shake his hand.
While everyone was talking to Lars I looked at Maddie. Yup she took what Lars said wrong. She thinks I have a girl somewhere, fuck. This was not what I wanted.
Everyone but Lars and that Roger guy reseated them at the table. “You probably figured out from Lars’s landing spot Maddie was able to get Cussman, he won’t be happy coming here, but we are hoping that you can help change that.”
“Lars said something about a girl?” Mr. Green asked and everyone looked at me.
Fuck, Damage control Jack, spin this.
Bastard had a girl in another town. I knew he was a panty dropping man whore. Selfish bastard, I would cut his dick off and throw it in the lake. How could he kiss me like that when he had another girl? I wanted the hell out of this room. The last thing I need to hear is about another woman.
“Sir, I should see about getting ready for Cussman.” I said trying like hell to get out of here.
“Relax Maddie, we have time, besides I want Jack to hear what else we picked up in the trade to see what he thinks.” My boss said with a I told you so look.
“So girl Jack, tell us about this girl. I mean if you want to bring her here I can guarantee you that you will be here the rest of the year.” Mr. Green said way to happy for my liking.
“Sir, it feels a little weird talking about this, but, have you ever met someone and the first time you see them, you know that’s the person for you? That’s how it was for me. I can’t explain it, I’m a hockey player, and we have fans all the time trying to get us to go on dates.” Jack said with quotation marks in the air.
“But this girl is different. She is professional, but cute as a button. She is a smart ass, but laid back. She is perfect, at least for me, and I want to see if this a long range possibility.”
Bitch, I thought. He said those same things about me, or at least most of them. Guess he has a type. I couldn’t hate him more than I do right now.
“So when Lars and you were talking you thought you might get traded?” Mr. Green said not as happy as before.
“Sorry sir, but when you have been traded at much as I have, well, you assume the worst.”
“But you walked in here smiling? Did you want to be traded?”
“No sir, but, if I had been I would have made the best of it. You see for a while I was hating hockey, and then all of a sudden, coming here, it changed. I enjoy playing and being part of a team again. I like being here, and I don’t want to leave. If I was going to be cut I was going to ask for a job as a scout. I want to stay here. I think my future is here.” Jack finished his attention squarely on Mr. Green.
“So would you say that you are in this for the long haul?”
“I would say that before coming here, I wasn’t sure where my future was headed, now I know it’s going to take a lot of work, but my future, right now, is in Syracuse.”
The way the two talked it was like they were sparring. I was not sure what was going on, most players would just be happy to still have a job as a player, but Jack almost seemed disappointed by that fact. I mean, he keeps saying he wants to be here, but, why isn’t he excited about being a player.
“You know that as our captain, you are bound by the same rules and standards as any member of management. I think we both know what I am saying.” Mr. Green said almost like threatening. What the hell was going on?
“Yes sir, I understand.” Jack said sounding defeated. Even though he was a man whore my heart broke at the tone in his voice.
“Of course,” Mister Green said and Jack’s eyes immediately lit on fire. The same fire he had when he kissed me. “If, and I know it’s a big if at the moment, say you were to be called up, well, that’s a different management team.”
Jack thought for a moment, and when I say thought, he was deeply focused on something. “What if the kid and I both get called up?”
“Let me be clear, I don’t mean for a day or two, I mean called up for the long haul. The kid is going to be eighteen soon, after that, the rest is wide open. Do you have the motivation you need now Jack.”
Jack stood from the table and nodded to all of us. “Yes sir, I have all the motivation in the world. I’ll take care of Cussman when he gets here, and be ready sir, we are going to light the lamp more than you can imagine.”
Mr. Green laughed. “I can imagine a lot Jackie my boy, I can imagine a lot.”
They both smiled and then Jack left. I was still wondering what all had transpired. “Lumm get Cussman on the ice with those two as soon as possible. The rest of you find out what else we need to make this team great again. Jacob, you are Cussman’s rep since you lost Lars. Maddie, stick around I want to talk about what the main squad said after the trade. Everyone else, see you tomorrow.”
Then like that it was over and I waited while everyone else filed out.