But I scored…

 From the Halifax Daily News, November 2, 1994

It all happened very quickly, I tell my wife, so I can’t be too sure of the precise details. Best to qualify my story in advance, I think. Just in case it doesn’t hold up under close scrutiny.

“I was planted in front of the net, you know, sort of like Dave Andreychuck on a good night, and I took this pass on my wrong wing, deked past a couple of guys and, just as I fired it toward the top corner, I got blindsided by this big guy and . . .”

I pause for a moment, just for effect.

“But I scored.”

For some reason, she looks skeptical.

“Matthew,” I say. “Did you see who checked me?” I put the emphasis on “checked” so he’d get the point. My son is 17. He likes to drive the car. He should understand what the right answer is here.

“Checked?” he says. He seems genuinely puzzled. “You just fell down.”

Why is it that when you want honesty from teenagers, you never get it? But when you want a little help providing a charitable perspective on events, they suddenly want to make you parent-proud.

I’d been at the Civic Arena playing a late night game of pick-up hockey with some journalism students and assorted others, including my son, when the . . . ahem, incident occurred.

However it happened – and I am convinced/convincing myself that it happened just the way I described it – my shoulder had a sudden, close painful encounter with the unforgiving surface of the ice.

“But he didn’t scream or anything,” my son says quickly, catching on, hoping, no doubt, to get back in my good graces. “He just turned white and got off the ice,” he explains to my wife. “He deals with pain really well.”

To me: “I thought you were going to be sick.”

I feel only slightly more charitable toward him.

“Do you think you should go to Emergency?” my wife asks. I’d like to tell you she asks this solicitously, but there is a resigned tone to her voice that I recognize from the last time I injured myself doing some complex, dangerous household chore (OK, OK, some people wouldn’t consider putting together a gas barbecue dangerous, but they obviously didn’t read the same instructions I did. I’d show them to you but they were consumed in the flames.)

“Oh, it’s okay. I’m fine,” I say. And I am. Two rum and cokes will do that.

For a while.

By dawn, however, their soothing effects have long since faded.

“Perhaps I should have it checked out,” I suggest stoically. Did anyone mention I handle pain well.

Why is it that middle-aged men who get hurt playing hockey get so little sympathy? My doctor smiled. The nurse laughed. “Don’t you think you’re a little old for that stuff?” she asked.

But finally, I am vindicated. I didn’t just fall down, I really have been injured.

See that,” the doctor says, pointing to what could be a fleck of dust on the X-Ray photo. A fracture of the humeris. I find it easy to ignore his unnecessary description of the break as minor and hairline.

I have earned my pain.

While I must now reluctantly take a little time off from the game I love, at least I have my memories.

“Yes, you see, well I fractured my shoulder in a game the other night. Taking one for the team. You have to be prepared to take one for the team. Hockey’s that kind of game, you know. Oh, yeh, I was nailed by these two guys, bruiser types, Chris Chelios would have cowered, but I still got off my shot. Wicked wrist shot. Beauty. Picked the top corner. Right out of the reach of the goalie. Yeh, I was back out next shift. Played the last two periods. Scored a couple more. Hockey, you know, it’s that kind of game. You’ve got to be tough. . .”

Hey, where you goin’. I’m just getting warmed up.