Opening Night

October 1 was the opening night, or Opening Night, depending on your level of passion as a hockey fan. I was pumped as only a die-hard Habs fan can be (how can you not have Jean Beliveau as your all-time idol ?) but I would have liked to have seen the Chicago Black Hawks opening ceremonies as they hoisted their Stanley Cup banner.
As mentioned previously in this space, Black Hawk Bryan Bickell lived with our family for three years when he played for the Ottawa 67s. We were delighted to attend his wedding this past August at Fourth Avenue Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church where he finally tied the knot with Amanda Caskanette, his long-time and only -ever girlfriend. Which is saying a lot for a hockey player, if you can believe the stories. Bryan recounted a tale during his groom’s speech at the National Convention Centre which we thoroughly enjoyed, especially after taking advantage of the open bar for a couple of hours.
Bryan had never been Brian (Killer) Kilrea’s favourite player, to say the least. Personally, I always enjoyed the kindly old coach’s irreverent humour, brutal honesty and scathing critiques, but then I never had the privilege of sitting in the dressing room and being the target and the reason for the merriment. So Bryan, because of Killer’s (perceived) view of his lackadaisical play, and too much time spent with Amanda and not enough miles logged on the exercise bicycle, was always skating on thin ice in and around the coach’s doghouse.
One night Bryan snuck Amanda back into his bedroom on our second floor. This was easy enough as it was a weeknight, a school night, and so there were no Glebe parties to attend, providing for an earlier -than-usual bedtime. The plan had been for the two to exit before anyone was up, leaving no trace of their crime and no reason to undergo another coach’s rant about commitment and morals. To their dismay their plan was scuttled when they heard the sounds of Sports Centre coming from the livingroom at the bottom of the stairs. Our sons Liam and Adam had not yet developed their bad habits of sleeping -in until gently awakened with a cup of cold water dumped on their heads.
Bryan made his way slowly down the stairs, Amanda buried deep at the bottom of a spare hockey bag that Bryan had just managed to find in a dresser drawer and slung over his shoulder. Liam looked up from the t.v. replays, surprised to see Bryan up at this early hour.
“What are you doing with your hockey bag ?” he inquired. “You never bring it home.”
Bryan swung the bag to a more comfortable position on his shoulder, banging Amanda’s head on the the stair railing. “Take it easy, she whispered.
“Well, uh, I brought home some extra equipment your dad might like to try,” he explained. The bag swung in the opposite direction, smashing Amanda into the wall. “Shit, that hurts,” Bryan heard this time; Amanda hissing into his ear as only a future bride can do.
“Oh, you didn’t have to do that; Dad has his own equipment,” our other son Adam said between slurping his Cheerios. Bryan was too tired to answer by this time. He’d made it to the front door, his secret still safe, and the only price he had to pay was another week on the injured list because he aggravated an already-separated shoulder.
Good preparation for the six game war he carried on with Zedeno Chara in last spring’s Stanley Cup final. The Perras family takes full credit for Bryan emerging victorious with the Cup.

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