As I left the gleaming, yet soulless monument to corporate prostitution known as the
"They made a mistake, you know", the voice said to me as I entered the boiler room. "They took the goddamned hot dog machines, but they left US. A big fucking mistake. And they'll pay for it."
The speaker appeared to me in a grey mist, a moth-eaten Habs jersey convering a skeletal frame, which was apt because he was...well...mostly skeleton. Here was the Chicoutimi Cucumber himself. George Vezina stood before me, and he was pissed.
"Yep. Dumped us like a syphilitic whore." he continued. "Well who the hell do they think won them all of those pretty trophies, eh? Dryden?? Nothing but a high-falootin' little priss with a superiority complex. Had to use a hundred words to make a point normal people could get across in ten. Dryden. BAH! Lafleur?? Sure, he could skate pretty for a communist. Get a haircut girlie man! Roy?? Not fucking likely. They never would have won the Cup in '93 without us. WE were the ones bending the goalposts to keep the pucks out. Do you think ten, TEN! overtime wins in the playoffs just happen? Of course not. So what thanks do we get? They move to a piece of crap rink full of corporate boxes filled with bigshots more interested in making deals than making noise. Christ, we may as well be in Toronto! And they left us here, to watch third rate movies and rattle around in the fucking basement. Just look at what it's done to the Gumper. Look!" He pointed to a disheveled old ghost passed out in the corner, a fifth of vodka standing between his splayed legs. "Poor bastard is reduced to hanging out in bathrooms and scaring the shit out of fifth graders! Four Cups and his reward is to go "BOOGA-BOOGA" during the matinee. Sad."
"So what can I do?", I asked.
"You tell them. You tell them that they will never win shit as long as they play in that god-forsaken rink. No Cups. No Conference titles. They won't even get a sniff of a division lead until they come back here. And even then. We may not be in very cooperative mood even if they do come back."
"Sure. I can do that", I replied.
"And you know what the sad part is?" George went on. "We're not the guys in the worst shape because of Mr. Razor Blade and his merry band. Nope, there's another bunch of guys who are even worse off then us. After all, we're dead. We don't need anything. You want to see the real pain in this soap opera? Head around back, to the alley behind the Forum. You'll see." Vezina let out a sigh and started to fade away. "Go talk to them. And let me know if the Senators need some help come April. It would be nice to see a winner for a change..." And with that he was gone.
As I made my way outside, back through the lobby, past the rent-a-cop (now asleep) and toward the back alley, I couldn't help but wonder what could be worse than seeing a team's legends abandoned for the sake of turning a buck. As I turned the corner, I knew. I knew what could be worse. It was written in crayon on a sign hanging from the door of the tarpaper shack built between two dumpsters:
I knocked on the door, fearing the worst.
To be continued...