Back It up, Baby

Penguins Camp.

Its funny how different the first day of training camp is for the NHL versus the OHL. In the OHL, everyone is still young and awkward. Unless you were on the team the year before or competed against each other in rep and house league, no one really talked to each other. Everyone’s main goal is to be on the team and make friends later. In the NHL, it’s kind of just accepted that most the people at training camp were going to be on the team or at least called up in the future. Instantly, everyone wants to be your friend. It always starts with the faithful captain, Sidney Crosby.

Beau and I had easily become friends and were joking around when we were taking a break in the locker room. I was giggling away, pulling my hair back into a tight, low bun, when Mr. Canada himself came walking over, cell phone in hand, “Lily, I tried to text you a couple times over the summer and last night but, you didn’t answer. Do you different number?”

I violently blushed, forgetting I had given Sid my number at the draft. I looked over at Beau, hoping he wasn’t judging me. He just rolled his eyes, a big, silly grin on his face, “Sid gets all the top draftees’ numbers at the drafts. He likes to try and be a mentor to everyone.”

“Oh, so I’m not special?” I joked before really thinking about how I never got a single message from Sidney. Then, it dawned on me, “oh, man. I’m so sorry. I think I gave you my US number instead of my Canadian or Finnish number. I’ll turn the US one on tonight after camp.”

“Why the fuck do you have a three numbers?” Brandon Sutter asked, sauntering over. I looked up and glared at him.

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t realize I was talking to you, farm boy,” I shot back, annoyed. I had noticed the green, plaid button up shirt he had been wearing when he walked in and his brown leather shoes looked weather from dirt. I assumed he spent his summers out in Red Deer with the rest of his family. Brandon hadn’t spoken to me since humiliating me in front of the team that morning and I didn’t take anyone’s bullshit, especially self-righteous hockey players. “For your information, not that it’s any of your concern, I spend most my summers in Finland, I’m Canadian and I’m in the States a lot, clearly.”

Beau lit up at the sound of Finland, “what do you do in Finland?”
I shrugged, not wanting to name drop. It was easy hiding it since Jussi Jokinen had decided not to return to Pittsburgh during the summer, “I spend August doing training with some people.”

“Who?” Sutter questioned. I gritted my teeth, looking up at him. I was really starting to hate this nosey bugger and he knew it. The cocky grin on his face made me want to punch him but, Beau and Sidney looked at me expectantly, waiting for my answer. I couldn’t avoid answering so, I just bit my lip and muttered.

“Rask, Koivus, Rinne, Backstrom and some other Finnish dudes,” I buried my face in my hands but, the guys started to laugh.

“That’s amazing, seriously, “ Beau said, wrapping an arm around my shoulders. I couldn’t help but, feel butterflies when he did it. Was it because he was touching me or was it from the fact that he sounded like he accepted me already? Either way, I tried hard not to dwell on it. “How did you end up doing that? Do you know Finnish? That’s crazy that you know a whole bunch of amazing players before even being in the NHL.”

I laughed. Slowly, I was learning that Beau got excited easily and his grin was quite contagious. Soon, I was giggling again and shrugging, “Rask is my best friend actually. My mom has represented him from the start so, I basically grew up with him. He taught me enough Finnish that I’m fluent now, yes and I don’t see it as ‘amazing players’. Mostly, just a bunch of old dudes who like to pick on me.”

“That’s great, I bet you learn lots,” Sid grinned, holding out his ancient looking cell phone. I took it, adding my two other numbers. I glanced at Sutter quickly, hoping he wouldn’t catch me doing it. Instead, I was shocked to see him staring at me as if he were studying everything about me. He didn’t look annoyed or impressed, just curious. I stuck my tongue out at him, throwing him off. Brandon was the last person I wanted figuring me out.

“Oh here, let me get your number too, since we’re roomies and all,” Beau said, letting go of my shoulders but, nudging mine with his.

“Me too,” I looked up to see Jarome Iginla and Chris Kunitz standing in front of me. Instantly, my jaw dropped. I hadn’t realized they were there at all. Jarome held out his hand to me, “Jarome. This is Chris. From what we’ve seen so far, you look like our best bet as a decent back-up for Fleury. Better get your digits now so, we can keep in contact.”

I couldn’t help but, smile. “Lily. I was going to ask about that, what happened with Vokoun?”

“He made a deal with Shero that he’ll be back in a year. I guess he’s got some pretty intense family issues going on right now and he’s making the right decision going to be with them in the Czech,” Kunitz answered while Jarome nodded, agreeing. They were family men, they understood the best. They handed me their cell phones, watching as I quickly inputted my contact information, “It’s nice to meet you, Lily.”

I smiled and watched as they continued their roundabout of the room, “you guys are all so nice here.”

“It only gets closer,” Sidney shrugged. He then looked up at the clock and smacked my shoulder. “Better get your gear on, back on the ice in 10.” He then turned and left me with Beau and Brandon.

“So,” Brandon started, his hands crossed over his chest. He wasn’t look at Beau but, staring straight at me. I should have called him a creep, but I really wanted to hear what he had to say. “A bunch of us are going out for dinner tonight and then going to a bar. We have tomorrow morning off so, we thought we’d have a little team bonding session. Neal’s idea, he really wants to get hammered. You guys coming?”

Beau nodded but, I just shook my head, “I’m only 18. You’ll have to count me out.”

“Well, sucks to be you,” Sutter replied before returning back to his stall. Just when I thought he could end up being a decent human being, he’s a jack ass again.

“You can still go to dinner with us,” Beau muttered. I couldn’t tell if he was talking to himself or me but, he looked right up at me when he continued on, “I’m not really up for going to the bar tonight so, we can go to dinner and then watch movies in our hotel room?”

“You really don’t have to,” I started but, he cut me off.

“No, I want to,” we made contact as he slowly spoke. I believed him but, all I could do was nod. Silently, I reached down for my pads and started strapping them on, reminding myself to breath every few seconds. This was weird, new and very exciting.

“Ice in five!”