The Set Up

Part 1

Groaning, I rolled over and glanced at the alarm clock. It was early, even too early for me, but I climbed out of bed anyhow and threw on a pair of sweat pants and an old battered Pens tshirt before heading down the grand staircase of the Lemieux house and into the gym.

Jumping on the treadmill, I ran for an hour until I was completely drenched in sweat and starving. Grabbing a quick shower, I stuck a hat on my still damp head and pulled on a pair of jeans and my favorite stripped shirt, I was ready to head to the arena for the morning skate.

Pulling up to the CEC, there were already a group of people waiting by the security booth. For once, just one day, I would love to pull up and be able to go in. There were days when I didn’t want to make small talk and smile for the fans, but they were the ones who bought the tickets and sat in the seats every night. Without them, I wouldn’t be able to do what I loved to do and that was why I stopped every day before I pulled in through the gate and into the parking lot.

Walking into the spacious locker room, I glanced around and saw that I was the only one here. Typical, it would probably be at least another half an hour before any of the other guys bothered to head to the rink. I strutted over to the kitchen area, making myself a bagel and a smoothie to satisfy my stomach and watched the sports headlines as I scarfed my breakfast down. Ovie was staring back at me from the television screen and I tried not to pay attention to what was being said about him, the time he played in Russia during the 4 month lockout did him good. He was even more of a competitor now and had been on a scoring streak.

Ovie wasn’t my biggest concern at the moment, I was just happy that the lockout had ended on Dec 31st and that the camps were done. Now it was time to cram in as many games as possible, tonight was the first home game of the season and I couldn’t wait. There was nothing like stepping out on the ice to cheers of our faithful fans. It wasn’t a secret that I was my happiest when I was at the rink, doing the one thing I was born to do.

I had spent my time focused so much on hockey that I hadn’t really had a personal life and the guys were really getting on my case about it. Tanger was a father, Flower got married over the summer, as did Orpik, and Max, even Max seemed like he had settled down. Still not sure why, but I had agreed to go on a blind date after the game with James and a girl he met at Diesel the weekend before. Blind dates wasn’t something new for me, it always seemed like family friends were setting me up, but I still hated every moment of them. Was it too much to ask to be able to find a nice, normal girl who I could meet on my own? I know everyone thought I was picky when it came to girls, but in reality, I had never had the opportunity to go and figure out what my type was. Sure, I had the generic version, someone who was independent, athletic, and could hold a conversation. If I really had to pick someone I could see myself settling down with, it would be someone like Vero. Pretty, hard working, compassionate and understanding; it seemed like Flower had the best of both worlds, a great game on the ice and off the ice as well.

Shuttering, I couldn’t help but wonder who I would met tonight. Neal was known to have questionable taste in women and I could only imagine what his date looked like, not to mention what her friend looked like. Why Nealer thought that this was a good idea was beyond me. Scrunching my paper towel into a ball, I tossed it into the garbage can and went to grab my sticks so I could start taping them for the morning’s skate.

Pushing all thoughts about what would happen later tonight, I concentrated on the intricate work of wrapping the knob of my stick. As usual, the world of hockey came first and no matter what girl I decided to date, she would just have to learn with coming in second.