People like to gloss over the next few months: Yeah,
uh, so Mike got hurt and then he had a shitty season until he dumped his fiancée
and then he was good again. They gloss over it because it's easy for
them. It wasn't their life that was being turned upside down. People don't
like to remember watching someone they idolize, care about, love struggle.
And Mike fucking struggled those few months. And not just on the ice. Which
is what, sometimes, most people--even me--forget.
I thought, if only he could get his game back together, his life would get
It's stupid, I know, because anybody will tell you that if shit is going down
off the ice, it's going to mess up your game on the ice. Hockey players like
to think they've divvied up their lives in such a way that off-ice stuff
doesn't affect their play. Yeah, well, most hockey players aren't exactly
college graduates. (Not that college grads are high on the common sense
odometer, but I'm sure they can fake it better)
If your game is shit the first thing the coach is going to do (well, after he
yells at you to stop being a lazy ass and lose ten pounds) is tell you that
he doesn't give a flying fuck about what you do in your personal life, but
when it messes up his game (yeah, as if that mother fucker was out on
the ice or something) it becomes his problem, so buy some fucking roses, and
apologize to the fucking wife/girlfriend, and fix this shit now.
Hockey players are predictable. It's always about some girl. Every now and
then it'll be a family member, or we'll be putting too much pressure on
ourselves, or we'll be thinking about getting traded. But most times it comes
back to the girl. You fix that up right good and your game returns.
But Mike isn't a hockey player. He's Mike. So it wasn't about a girl. It's
never been about a girl.
It'd be so much fucking easier if it was just about a girl. Girls are
so easy. You buy them stuff and you "listen" to them, and
everything is great.
But it wasn't like that for Mike.
I knew he was going through a rough spot, but I figured he'd deal with it.
His game would return and everything would be okay.
I was his best friend, and I didn't do anything.
You know, they like to say that it isn't your fault. That you can't control
another person. That their choices are just that: theirs. You can't be held
responsible for what somebody else does.
Only, Mike didn't make a fucking choice. He didn't wake up and say, yeah,
uhm, sure, okay!
But I chose not to do a fucking thing.
Maybe if I had talked to him. Maybe if I had visited him more often at Turtle
Creek. Maybe if I had just done something.
These are the things I replay in my mind. Other guys think about the puck
that clanked off the pipe, the man they should have cut off at the blue line,
the cup-clinching goal they should have saved.
I think about the things I could have done to save my best friend.