My Week 210: Swimming in the Hockey Pool

Yesterday, one of my colleagues said, “I’ll be back in a bit. I have to go to the hockey pool meeting.” And I was like, “There’s a hockey pool? Why didn’t I know about this?”

She said, “Were you in it last year? Because I think the invitation only went out to people who did it last year, but you can come with me if you want. I’m sure it will be fine.”

And that was all well and good, but I hate to go places where I’m not invited. I also hate to go places where I AM invited, if you’ll remember my anxiety last week over meeting Gary Numan. But I had conquered my fear last week, so maybe I was on a roll. After a little hemming and hawing, at which point she said, “Ok, see you later,” I yelled, “Wait up!” and went with her, the words ‘I’m sure it will be fine’ ringing ominously in my ears.

Sure enough, there was a reason for the ominous-osity. I walked in the room and said cheerfully, “Hey, does anyone mind if I join the hockey pool?” I was met with glares and complete silence. My poor colleague sat down at the far end of the table while I waited. Finally, the organizer sighed and said, “It shouldn’t be a problem. I’ll just create another team. It’ll mean less players available for everyone, but that’s…OK.”

Let me just state for the record right now that I don’t even like hockey particularly, nor do I follow any team. I had no idea what a ‘hockey pool’ even was—I thought we would just pick a team to win the Stanley Cup and in about ten years from now when this year’s hockey season is finally over, the person who picked the winning team would get kudos or whatnot. But I realized that things were quite a bit more complicated when I looked around the room and realized that everyone else had roster sheets, statistical analyses, and printouts of players listed by position. I had nothing but a vague sense that I was doing this wrong. In fact, I had to leave within the first couple of minutes to get my cellphone, because I had to set myself up in an app that would track my team, which was a “fantasy team” made up of any players I wanted. I have no idea what was said in my absence, but when I came back, it was pretty obvious that there was a certain level of impatience in the room as I tried to log on and get this sh*t done as fast as possible so that the DRAFT could start. Yes, draft. All 12 ROUNDS of it. 

We had to pick a number out of a hat, and I got 15. There were 16 people, so that meant I got to pick almost last, which sounds sh*tty, but I was relieved because it gave me some time to think about hockey and any players that I knew the names of. There were 2: PK Subban and John Tavares. They were both picked before it was my turn. When it came to me, I looked at the player list projected on the board and yelled out a random name. Everyone murmured in approval, so I was feeling a little more confident, but because I was second-last and the next round started from the bottom, I had to pick again almost right away.

With all eyes on me, I picked another random name, and the guy across from me said, rather snarkily, “You can’t pick HIM. You already have a goalie” to which I replied “Oh, is that what the G after his name meant?” and everyone rolled their eyes. The man next to me shoved a roster over and said, “Here. Pick from the D list” and I was about to say, “Oh come on—I’m sure SOME of them are very nice men” when I realized that D must stand for Defence and not what I initially thought it meant. So I picked another name, and there was a visible sense of relaxation around the table as it became apparent that I was no threat to anyone who, for the twenty dollar buy-in, was trying to build a serious, winning team.

We got through 6 rounds before someone came to the door demanding the use of the room for a webinar. So far, here are the players I picked and why:

1) Frederick Anderson: I like his last name. It reminds me of The Matrix, and hopefully he has some special powers like Neo. But he’s a goalie so I hope he doesn’t do that bend-y thing to dodge the puck. If he lets in a goal, I’m going to say, “Mr. Anderson…you disappoint me.” Also, he plays for Toronto, and that’s where I live sometimes.

2) Tyler Seguin: There’s a character in my new novel named Seguin. Maybe it’s an omen. A GOOD omen, not like those Damian movies. He’s also Canadian. I just looked him up and he won the Stanley Cup in his rookie year, so maybe I’m good at this after all.

3) Morgan Rielly: I’ve always liked the name Morgan, and I like that he spells Rielly in an eccentric way. He also plays for Toronto, and I’m trying to build a Maple Leafs roster as best I can, because THIS IS THEIR YEAR. We say that about the Leafs every year, but now I’m on board with that.

4) William Nylander: Also a Maple Leaf. His name rhymes with Highlander. That was a great movie, and it would be f*cking fantastic if hockey was a competition where the teams fought with swords. I think the tagline for the movie was “There can be only one” and that’s just like winning the Stanley Cup.

5) Matthew Tkachuk: Early in my teaching career, in the year 1997, I had a student named Mike Tkachuk. I sent him to the office once for continually yelling out in class “This sucks!” He was talking about some music we were listening to—he wasn’t particularly inclined towards anything other than metal and spent a lot of time stoned (these are two separate facts about him—I’m not implying that people who like metal smoke a lot of marijuana). The principal made him write a list of 25 better ways to say “This sucks”. To his credit, he did it, and handed it to me at the end of the day. I laughed my ass off—number 10 was “Snow is better than this music”, number 15 was “This music is worse than vegetables”, and number 25 was “This isn’t music to my ears.” He was actually a pretty clever kid when he tried. He was so pleased that I found it funny that he never gave me a hard time again. I still have the list after 21 years. I hope Matthew Tkachuk is just like that. And he plays for Calgary, so at least he’s on a Canadian team.

And he carefully numbered it.

6) Mark Giordano: He was a panic pick. I had just realized that PK Subban’s brother Jordan plays for the Leafs so I was all set to pick him, but then everyone yelled at me that he was a rookie and probably would be playing in something called the AHL (?). My next pick was a guy who was 6 foot 5 because THAT’S TALL!!, but he was in some kind of contract negotiation, so I went with Giordano, who is the CAPTAIN of the Calgary Flames, so ha ha, hockey pool people.

Apparently, we have to do the last 6 rounds on Monday, but I’m getting pretty good at this. One of my favourite movies is Alien Vs. Predator, and not only is there a hockey team called the Predators, there’s a player on that team who looks just like the guy who works at the liquor store that I go to…

Thanks, Lord Stanley, for this awesome cup.

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63 thoughts on “My Week 210: Swimming in the Hockey Pool

  1. So, it took me a few to figure out there wasn’t a real pool where hockey players play. Okay, I actually thought maybe the ice rink melted and that it was going to make for a really weird hockey game– don’t judge me! I’m in Texas! Also, it’s still early Sunday morning! Anyway, I like the intuitive way you choose your players, Suzanne! Hope all your fantasies (players) come true!
    Epithet aka Mona

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Hey… I just have to mention… Congrats for your goalie! You probably don’t know, but you picked a Dane, and who wouldn’t want a Viking to keep the net, right??

    I like the idea of playing with swords, it would add a little kick to the game! LOL

    Liked by 3 people

  3. This is where “fantasy teams” always lose me. If they’re fantasy teams why can’t you pick whatever players you want? Damian from “The Omen” movies would be a great player. So would Connor MacLeod. In fact I’m surprised there isn’t a real player named that. You’re already close to having the real Neo on your team.
    Maybe that’s why fantasy teams won’t allow you to have just anyone. As soon as someone says “I pick Cthulu” everyone else would have to say “GAME OVER!”

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I haven’t played fantasy football in years, but am VERY familiar with all you spoke to…not knowing the first thing about hockey (we can’t even spell ise down here) doesn’t matter. Loved reading about this.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Margot says:

    I once participated in a work football pool. This was long before fantasy teams and all I had to do was pick which team would win from a long list of scheduled games. I chose the teams based entirely on which city I’d rather visit and I won. I did it the same way the following year and won again. All the guys I worked with were convinced I was either cheating (?!) or had incredible hidden knowledge I wasn’t copping to.

    I admire your method and hope you win!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Suzanne, you are the highlight of my week, the sure thing!!!!!! Although I probably shouldn’t admit it, I am so not aware of sportsish kinds of things, I thought a Hockey Pool was going to be an actual pool (the swimming kind) related to hockey….which of course makes no sense. I like your pool much better!!!!!! Go Hockey (I have actually been to a Flames game….like a hundred years ago).

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I’m not surprised you still have the paper from Tkachuk (<— cut and pasted, could NOT spell that one), but I am floored you knew where it was. I've been going through this house thing and I can tell you that paperwork I'm looking for that I had SIX MINUTES AGO is lost in the attic somewhere already. Speaking of which, I have a notebook full of poetry up there from when I was a muse in 2003 … I should dig it out for some tribal laughs….

    You're far braver than I am. I would have said "yes, I'll join the pool" and when I figured out it was a rotisserie thing I would have said "nope, no way, not ready, I'm out!" But way to hang in there, champ. Let me know how you do. Beginners tend to do well in these things, mostly because the universe has a great sense of humor. 😉

    P.S. Sorry I'm always so late in responding lately … apparently buying a house requires the reading of a novel every 7 or 8 hours! 🤣

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Being from the UK and the fact i’ve been to one ICE hockey game in my whole life (and still know nothing about it), I was confused between the Olympic hockey (played on grass with wooden sticks that we were made to play in school) and a swimming pool. Lets just say there was a lot of confusion about what the hell was going on for a while there…

    I really felt for you with the blank stares. I once turned up to a birthday party that I wasn’t invited to – I sort of knew the birthday girl and went because a mutual friend asked me to go with her. Turns out, there was a sit down meal with a seating plan and the birthday girl gave me daggers… MORTIFIED.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. There’s something to be said, I guess, for being part of a fantasy league in which you know nothing about what you’re doing! I dropped out of our group Oscar pool fifteen years ago because I couldn’t take the stress…

    Liked by 1 person

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