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I try to be honest, I try to admit my faults. I call things like I see Ďem, even if that means Iím criticizing myself. Sudsyís always said Iím too modest about my abilities, but Iím actually not that good of a player. I just have a knack for being open. The moment I lose that, Iíll have lost all utility, really, and Iíll have to say goodbye to this game. Hopefully, that wonít be for a while.

 

So, honestly, Iíve gotta be like the dumbest guy in the whole league. Well, not the dumbest. There are a couple thugs out there that better be thankful they can keep their balance while skating, because otherwise I donít know what kind of job they would have been able to get. But given the caliber of players Iím normally grouped with, Iím probably the dumbest of the lot. Because I got played.

 

I got played by Mike Modano.

 

How this completely honest dude managed to fool me, to lie to meÖ Itís pathetic. Laughable. Iíd liken it to a snow hare telling a lynx it was actually an elephant, and the lynx believing him. Tie Domi convincing you heís an elite scorer. Marty Brodeur telling you heís German. And a terrible goalie.

 

Mike canít play card games. Poker? Bullshit? Not gonna happen because he wears his cards on his face. Couldnít bluff if his life depended on it. You always know the moment he has a great hand. So how the hell did I get duped?

 

I wasnít the only one lulled by success that season. The Wings, Avs, and Stars all sat atop their divisions, and who wouldíve ever thunk theyíd be toppled by Anaheim or Minnesota? The Stars went on a fervent tear the first half, but then began to slow, only showing up in the third period and managing to get the win on skill alone. Maybe that should have been a clue; experience tells you that will beats skill any day of the week. Barry Melrose too. Thatís his favorite phrase during the post season.

 

Iím not one of those guys that doesnít watch playoff hockey. So, of course, I watched the Stars fall to the Ducks. Itís not a masochistic thing. After a loss, I forget about the game. Wins too, unless itís an especially notable game. Sportís all about looking to the futureóto the next season, the next game, the next play. You dwell on the past and you sink. So watching the hockey game was just that: watching hockey. And watching Mike play, I never would have guessed what would happen next.

 

Mike had a good season aside from its finish, so this last season was like a punch to the gut. Unexpected (because shouldnít the first swing be to the face?), and knocking you down to your knees. Cruel almost, because he had plodded along so steadily, and Iíd become accustomed to his even keel. Stuff like this wasnít supposed to happen. Mikeís the kind of guy you rely on. I kept hoping it was just the beginning of the seasonóhe always has slow starts. Takes him a while to lose whatever gut heís acquired over the summer. Maybe it was the new responsibility, but surely the C couldnít have been weighing that heavily already?

 

God dammit, arenít you supposed to warn somebody before you go and just implode like that? How could he just lie to me that entire year, pretend everything was okay? There were signs, moments, when I knew that it was possible weíd drop all four to Anaheim. I wasnít fucking blindsidedójust frustrated and stonewalled by J.S. But he lied to me. He said he was okay. And then he just collapsed.

 

But Iíll take this. Iíll take one for all the things that I couldnít take onto me, all the things I wished I could take, wished I could carry for him. Iíll call myself an idiot, the dumbest guy in the whole damn league. Iíd rather be a fool than helpless. Useless.

 

 

 

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