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NHL Reboot Blog: The Beginning

Note: This is a little side-project I'm doing. Inspired by someone's amazing diary-style Be a Pro season from NHL '09, I'm starting a new franchise in NHL '10, and writing about it as if it was really happening, from the eyes of my team's GM. This GM will NOT be me; it will be a randomly generated name of a fictitious person who had a middling NHL career and finds himself in his first GM job.

There will be some caveats for this. The biggest one is that I'm pretending that, after the 2008-2009 season, every single NHL player became a free agent, and went into a pool - the game's Fantasy Draft option - in something the NHL marketed as "NHL Reboot 2009", to generate interest in the sport (it should be noted that in this, Gary Bettman will come off as more of a doofus than he does in real life. Yes, I realize that basically means he should be wearing clown noses at this point, but bear with me). I mean, Every. Single. Player. No more Sidney Crosby with the Pens, no more Ovechkin with the Capitals, etc. But every player still has his NHL contract, which means older, fading veterans will be far less valuable than younger kids with good contracts; it's arguable that Steve Stamkos has more actual value than Sidney Crosby because he makes $550k for three years and Crosby makes a max $8.975. This also means that unattached, European players will be selectable; that means guys like Pavel Brendl.

The randomly selected GM will take over a team I randomly select with a number generator, who will then get one of the top picks in the draft. This is important, because there's one surprise: I'm a created player. Or, more specifically, I'm a more petulant Eric Lindros. I'm casting myself as a high potential defenceman - 86, A potential, essentially a more defencive minded Drew Doughty - who was drafted in the later rounds of the NHL Draft, and ended up blowing up in juniors, to the point where it's being debated whether or not I should be a high draft pick in the Reboot Draft, considering my high potential, already good skill, and

I know this sounds like Gary Stu bullshit, but I swear I'll find a way to make it work without it sucking. I hope. Is it a Gary Stu when I'm actually inserted?

So my randomly generated GM's name is Kurt Tassone. As for his team, what I did was I put all 30 NHL teams in alphabetical order, and generated a number between 1-30. And I SWEAR, this was random...





I almost immediately put in a rule that stated I couldn't take a team I either 1) supported or 2) have played as, which would have eliminated both NY teams and the Canucks, but I figured I could make this work in a story.

Finally, in addition to the reboot, a couple of rules were changed: I've decided to find a way to make the old OT rules - 5 on 5, ties allowed, no overtime loss points - work in this. Just because I hate the new rules. Finally, I'll cut every entry, and tag them.

Bear in mind one thing: I am not a fiction writer. This is new ground for me. I like to stick to 1,500 word columns, so I'm really reaching into something I'm not comfortable with here. Be kind!


_____

June 6 - "Kurt, this is Matt, call me back IMMEDIATELY once you get this! I don't care what time, just don't stall on me! This is IMPORTANT!"

Matt's usually not so impatient. He's been my agent since the week before the Sabres drafted me in '89, and in the twenty years that I've known him, he's always been my cool, calm and collected confidant. He's been there through thick and thin, from that draft where I dropped down to the sixth round because of concerns about my knees, through my years of Junior eligibility, my getting traded twice before I even played in the AHL, one more trade after I made it that far, and finally making the NHL in the 1996 season with St. Louis - my fourth franchise - he's been there. It's possible that wouldn't have been the case if he had bigger cilents, but the truth is that I'm his biggest one; I'm the only one that "made" it, even if "made it" involves stops in shit holes like Erie, Pennsylvania, and Newmarket, Ontario, and New Haven, Connecticut, and finally Worcester, Massachusetts before making the NHL just in time to get traded three more times, to Tampa Bay, Carolina and finally, one final season in Columbus while my knees ground to a halt. In fact, it was Matt - the "CEO" of Matt Lancon Sports Agency, though the company is just him and his secretary/wife - who got me my current job as an amateur scout with the Jackets once I retired. It's been nice to have some stability, though it helps that I'm better at this job than I was at my last one. I've been able to turn the brass up top onto a couple of nice kids so far, like Derek Dorsett and Jared Boll. I notice they're starting to listen to me more now, because they're even asking me about Europeans, despite the fact that I don't scout Europeans. At the very least, it's nice to be appreciated. Or at least to not be thrown around like a trading card.

This would normally be my time to relax and enjoy some time off before the NHL Prospects game, but in the NHL's infinite wisdom, they're breaking their league. They're calling it "NHL Reboot 2009", and like the name suggests, they're taking all players with NHL rights tied to a team and throwing them into a pool for everyone to draft. This was apparently Bettman's idea to take one last stab at keeping the "non" NHL markets. Brilliant fucking move, genius, you only just gutted four of the six Canadian teams and a lot of northern teams in the process, not to mention the poor Penguins. Only this idiot would try to save the shitty Tampa Bay Lightning and shittier Phoenix Coyotes by gutting the two most stable franchises and the two best owners he has.

At least the Leafs will be happy.

Of course, one of the teams that needs "saving" is mine. We're a little bare-bones on NHL scouts, so despite the fact that my season ended with the Memorial Cup, they have me scouting the Finals as well, looking for someone to draft, depending on how the ping-pong balls fall after the Finals. I should have been watching Game 5 with my kids, with a beer in one hand and a slice of pizza in the other. I shouldn't be eating press box food, especially press box food in Detroit. I think they dug up Joseph Mengele to be their cook.

For God's sake, I just want to go to bed, but hearing Matt this impatient has me partly skeeved, and partly worried. I've seen him lose his cool once, and thank God it wasn't at me. Jim Rutherford had sworn to him that he had no plans on trading me at the trade deadline, but the allure of a fifth round draft pick was too much for him, and Matt let him have it for a good fifteen minutes while I packed my things and said good-bye to the boys in the room. Knowing that they went to the Finals that year didn't make it hurt any less, I can say that for sure.

I guess I better call Matt before he has a heart attack...

___

June 7 - Oh, shit. No wonder he was excited.

I called Matt at about 2AM last night, this morning, whatever. As I called him, things were starting to come together in my head, but it wasn't gelling yet. In the press box, the big topic of conversation was the fact that Glen Sather was stepping aside as General Manager of the Rangers so he could concentrate on being the President. The press, scouts and other smart people in the box thought the same thing: that this guy's going to be as "hands-off" as President as Vladimir Putin is, and that "stepping aside" was a crock of shit. We all joked that Larry Brooks of the New York Post was the one making this call, and that Sather was tired of his shit, or at least tired of having to keep Tortorella from punching the stupid fuck. I turned on the news, and right after the highlights of Game 5, they played Sather's press conference. He gave the standard line about wanting to step aside and wind down a bit, he's getting older and is getting ready to retire, the expected mumbo-jumbo. My impression was either that he's full of shit, or Humpty Dumpty was pushed, but I discount the latter; I wouldn't be surprised if Jimmy Dolan thought a hockey puck was the little disc they put in urinals.

So when I called Matt, I knew that Sather was out, and I knew that he said he wanted someone to take the team in a new direction. I wasn't quite adding two plus two quite yet. The conversation I ended up having stamped "FOUR" squarely on my forehead.

"Kurt! I have you booked on a flight to New York City in six hours!"
"You-- wha? Matt, you can't do that, I have to watch the morning skate before the teams leave for Pittsburgh. What is this for?"
"You know what Sather did yesterday, right?"
"Yeah, of course."
"OK... is this clicking with you yet?"
"... What, the Rangers need a scout?"
"Jesus H. Christ, Kurt! Slats called me, he wants to interview you for the fucking GM position!"
"Matt, April Fools' Day was two months ago, stop pulling my pud."
"Would I bullshit you about this?"
"Why the fuck would the New York Rangers want an amateur scout who's playing career ended only a few years ago to be their GM?"
"You haven't been paying attention, but your name's been creating some buzz. And Scott Howson's been talking you up."
"Howie's been talking me up? Why didn't you tell me this, Matt!?"
"Because you're always in Bumfuck, Saskatchewan, watching some third-liner on the Blades, thinking he's that diamond in the rough you've been looking for"
"Hey, that's the job you got for me"
"Just get some sleep. Right now, you're the only person I know of interviewing for this position. I'd like it if you were the last one."
"Just two things, Matt."
"Shoot."
"One, is Howie OK with this?"
"He's already approved you to interview for this position, through me. I can assure you of that."
"Secondly, be honest: is Sather looking for a GM, or a puppet to control?"
"Pardon?"
"I've never been anything more than a scout. He's Glen Fuckin' Sather. Why is he looking at me? Am I going to have autonomy?"
"You know what, Kurt? I really don't know. It's entirely possible he's looking to Snow you."
"You mean what Milbury did to Garth Snow?"
"Yeah. But I figure you have a strong enough bullshit detector to see through that, if he's doing it. Besides, Slats tends to be honest to a fault; I think he's one of the last people you have to worry about feeding you a load. But you might have an opportunity to start your own NHL team from scratch, Kurt. You used to dream about that as a kid, and don't give me that 'I only wanted to be a player' bullshit, either. This could be the opportunity of a lifetime; keep your mind open, and you'll make the right choice".
"Gotcha".
"Now get some sleep. And Kurt?"
"Yeah?"
"Remember that Mike Milbury is working as a broadcaster for NESN now, and Garth Snow has an Executive of the Year plaque on his wall."



I admit, I'm a little nervous. I've only met Sather a couple of times; both times were when I was playing, and it was typical, hi-bye stuff. Now, I'm on a plane to New York City to interview with a living legend for what is essentially a dream job. Running an NHL team, and starting one from scratch! This is fucking surreal. Yesterday, I was in Detroit, scouting the Stanley Cup Finals, just in case I'd have anything better to say than "yeah, I hear that Crosby kid's alright" or "take the guy with all the Norris Trophies". Maybe that NHL Reboot bullshit will turn out alright for me after all. I'll bet Kelly's excited, at least...

... Holy shit, has anyone told Kelly!? I gotta call her once I hit the ground!

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Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
mel_makoro
Mar. 8th, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC)
I don't think you should worry too much about the Gary Stu thing because, in the end, it's all about the writing quality and the presentation. And last I checked, you were pretty good with both.

I think by writing this from a perspective other than your own, you'll be able to pull this off without a hitch. ^_^
burning_phoneix
Mar. 8th, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC)
I like it.

Also, can you give me the link to that be a pro diary (it was that 19 year old player finally getting a big break right.. I also remember a snarky 40 year old goalkeeper.)
superbus
Mar. 8th, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
I wish I still had that link! But that's the one, yeah. The snarky 40 year old goaltender, BTW? That was Wade Flaherty, and that's what made that diary so good: he NAILED Flaherty, who really is a goaltender (you can find him in NHL '10's free agent pool), and really is a sarcastic, awesome dude. XD
(Anonymous)
Mar. 8th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
Here
Actually, this is a cleaner link and the one Bus originally had:

http://www.nhldepot.net/ndforums/dynasty-stories/19607-career-bryan-hurst-nhl-09-pro.html

~Psymin
samuraiter
Mar. 8th, 2010 04:19 pm (UTC)
You do realize that this puts you in the category of celebrity 'fic, generally considered the lowest tier of our hierarchy? *chuckles* Nonetheless, if the bug bites you, you have to write it out, and this, though it is largely Greek to me (no pun intended), feels like you are well within your comfort zone. :-) If you had fun doing it, do more! That is what 'fic is all about.
burning_phoneix
Mar. 8th, 2010 06:28 pm (UTC)
Actually this is what in the gaming world is called an "After Action Report" or AAR and is a story based on your particular run through the game.
(Anonymous)
Mar. 8th, 2010 04:32 pm (UTC)
Great!
Well that was an excellent start. I am looking forward to the draft because you tend to draft extremely well. You've really never written fiction before? You've got some natural talent with it if that's the case.

Phoenix, here is the Brian Hurt BaP journal that Bus was referencing (I believe):

http://www.operationsports.com/forums/hockey-dynasties/268158-career-bryan-hurst-nhl-09-pro.html

~Psymin
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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