Stanley Cup Final Blues
New Starts [Chapter Two]
I played two out of the five preseason games. It was fine because both of them were wins for me and the team. I had tried to keep my distance from Pietrangelo, but it's hard when he's playing defence in front of me. I was supposed to be able to trust him and be there to bail him out just like he was supposed to be doing for me every night. I knew that both of us though were praying that each other would mess up and put in the dog house.
I was the first one at the ACC. I had always loved this building. It was always my dream to get the start here. I had sat both of the times I had gotten the chance to play here. It was no Leafs Gardens but it sure as hell held the same meaning to me. I walked around and made my way to the ice, which I wasn't to step on due to the rules in the NHL. We were to wait until it was our practice time or time for puck drop.
It was astonishing to look at all those empty seats. It was like I was a kid again. I had my Leafs jersey on and I would stop Wayne Gretzky on a last second break away and there I would be— throwing my hands in the air because I was A Stanley Cup Champion. Every one in the crowd would be chanting my name.
"—Robby," I heard a familiar voice speak.
I turned around to see the familiar kid. "Nazzy," I spoke as I walked up to him to give him a hug. It had been a long time since I've talked to him, or even seen him for that matter. I pulled away and asked, "How are you liking Toronto?"
"It's great. The fans are still the best in the league and I'm loving it here," he said as looked around the arena. To us this place was the most precious building in hockey country.
I smiled at him. "Don't think I'm going to go easy on you tonight Naz," I chirped.
"You never have. I used to hate playing you and the Knights when I was with the Rangers," he admitted with a sheepish smile.
"You know what they say, if you can't beat 'em then join 'em." I was referring to the fact that in the 2008-2009 year he was traded to the Knights for a bucket of draft picks.
"The Knights have always been the Pittsburgh Penguins of the OHL. They always had star power, especially you. You were always underrated."
I chuckled at him a little bit before replying, "Yeah well the 2008-2009 year was a good one. We had Del Zotto, Tavares and you who all came over in trades."
"Those were some good years. So who's all coming to watch tonight since you're starting?" he asked with a half smile.
"My family and they invited the Stamkos' so hopefully it'll be a good one. They haven't watched me play in quite a while."
"I don't even remember the last time I seen Mr. and Mrs. Stamkos," Naz joked a little.
I smiled at him. "Yeah, well they had a busy child. Can't blame them."
"Fair enough. Well, I have to go. Carlyle wants us to go over some tape. It was good seeing you, Robyn," he said as he was starting to walk off. I sighed seeing Nazem leave because I missed it at all. I wanted to play Juniors and Triple A again. That's when their wasn't such a big star light hovering over us. It was when I got to grow up and play hockey with Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Patrick Kane, P.K. Subban, Jamie Benn, Jordan Eberle, Logan Couture and Nazem Kadri himself.
"—Sanheim, what are you doing? It's practice time," Pietrangelo yelled at me as I was spaced out and stuck staring where Naz used to be.
"Oh shit," I mumbled.
It was dying down and the Leafs had the lone goal of the game by Nazem Kadri. I seen the coach give the nod for me to head back to the bench so I started to skate as fast as I could. Tarasenko replaced me as the extra attacker. The guys were pressuring hard, but all I could hear was the ring of the cross bar after T.J. Oshie's dying second shot. I sighed and knew we had lost it.
"Fucking shit," I cursed under my breath.
I made my way down the tunnel and to the change room. It was usually fairly quiet after losses. As soon as everyone sat down the coach started to talk, but I was too focused on other things to fully pay attention. I just rested my back to my stall and slowly took off the pads for the day.
"Okay you're clear to go. You all better be up for noon," he dismissed after a long rant on backing up the goaltender when they're able to back you up. I knew that I only let one slip in, but some nights players just can't bury pucks. Tonight was one of those shitty nights.
Slowly the guys were heading into the showers and I knew that I should start to shower in my designated one that they had given me, but before I was going to grab a towel Alex stopped me. "Hey Robyn, can I talk to you after?" he asked awkwardly.
I tilted my head in confusion before agreeing. After he got an okay from me he went and hit the showers. I looked behind me to see Tarasenko giving me a thumbs up. I rolled my eyes at his goofiness.