Friday, March 20, 2020

Clear as Ice - #HockeyFiction Prompt Two

Prompt one is here. Prompt Two is icing.  

Hockey nicknames could be a dangerous thing.  Especially when you had a name like Albert Tseu.  He'd grown up watching hockey, with his parents.  His mom was Canadian born and raised.  His dad was not, but had happily adopted the sport and ensuing traditions.  So he had watched names get shortened, or, in they were already short often get an added syllable like an "er" or an "ie".  When your last name was Tseu that was dangerous. 

So, after a deep discussion about this at the age of nine with one of his junior hockey league teammates they had decided the only way around this was a better nickname. 

As nine year olds, the obvious goalie nickname had been Unstoppable.  Of course, over a decade later Al knew that naming yourself Unstoppable was just headline fodder in the worst way. And that everyone just called you Stop.  Not Unstop.  Or Stopie.  Or Unstoppable.  Stop. 

Coming out of the locker room after practice, he spotted Daisy leaning against the wall.  She straightened at the sight of him, confirmation that yep, it was him and not one of the other players still changing she was waiting for.  Daisy worked in the Domes' Youth Hockey Development department.  So she often worked with the team, planning appearances at youth hockey events, setting up meetups with the various teams that scrimmaged during the period breaks.  But she usually didn't need to talk to them after practice for that, those were set up way in advance. 

"Hi, Albert," she said. 

"Hi, Daisy," he said.  He had a feeling that whatever this was meant he wasn't getting home where he had food and a couch as soon as he had hoped.

"So, I saw your post about representation and I wanted to run something by you."  She smiled.  

He could tell Daisy was nervous. He suspected the rant he had made to the marketing department about how he was not doing any more interviews for Hockey is for Everyone month where the reporter kept asking if he was the first Asian American hockey player anymore had trickled over to the other staff.  Well, good.  He was happy to be a face for kids who wanted to see people like him playing professional hockey.  He wasn't the first, he figured he wouldn't be the last.  But in the end, being Asian American didn't change anything about how he played hockey.  No one asked the Swedish and Russian players if they faced challenges learning to play hockey.  Al had grown up in Maryland.  The biggest challenge he had faced was the long rides to the games in New Jersey.  

He nodded at Daisy to let her know to continue. 

"What if we invited Sienna to a game, had her meet you, sit with a team rep, and give her your jersey to wear and all that." 

"Sienna?" he asked.  "Oh right, Sienna Clear."  It sounded like a fake name to him, but whatever, he had nicknamed himself Unstoppable. 

"Sienna George, actually," Daisy said.  "She's got a huge following, primarily women, and that's also why we'd like to invite her for the night we have the two all girl teams playing in the period break."  Daisy smiled.

In hockey, players sometimes flung the puck all the way to the other side of the rink, basically getting the puck the hell away so they could get back on better footing with the other team.  It generally didn't apply to goalies, but the easiest way to get it waved off, was to race up and retrieve the puck yourself.  It seemed being a goalie wouldn't save him from having stuck himself into this conversation.  And now he was going to spend time making nice with a person who seemed to think volleyball was somehow exciting.  

"Okay," he said. 

Daisy nodded.  "I'll send you the details.  It'll be for the Piranhas game." 

Al's shoulders sunk.  This was the real reason Daisy had been nervous.  The Piranhas had a freaking center named Chad De Sorcy who was Al's nemesis.  Al didn't even much buy into the nemesis BS.  Often had great camaraderie with folks the press liked to claim he hated.  But he actually hated De Sorcy.  Hated his smug looks, his ridiculous hair, and the way that De Sorcy had never ever, not once, managed to not score multiple times against him.  Every time they played the Piranhas he got asked about it.  There were multiple headlines punning on his nickname, and sometimes De Sorcy even liked to give pithy quotes like, "Gosh, he's never seemed that unstoppable to me." 

So he had a no Piranhas rule for the meets with fans, with youth hockey, and all of that, because he just needed to be the hell away from impressionable children and microphones around Piranhas games.  But it looked like he was making an exception.