The Barnstormer has secured the cooperation of a locked-out NHL player who has agreed to document each day he is kept out of action on the condition that we do not reveal his identity. Ever. Read all the daily diary entries of “Cheap Throat” here.
10:49AM — Yeah, okay. Plan to wake up early didn’t really work out that way. I blame the damp and grey, so woolly and depressing that I could wake up and not be sure if it was day or night. Fuck that. I like a day that knows its mind. Feel me?
11:03AM — So yeah, broke camp (started the engine) and I’m back on the road now, Cheesesteak in my hand, cup of instant coffee propped up between my thighs. Apparently War Horse’s makers weren’t big on cup holders. Praying for no bumps.
1:29PM — Getting totally sick of singing the Rocky theme to myself. For reals. Have to get a CD player installed in this baby. Got a brand new Rocky soundtrack CD just sitting there, still in the plastic. Gotta liberate it. Blast that shit at an unneighbourly volume. Dah-dah-danhhh!
1:34PM — Killed another two Cheesesteaks. Really have to think about stopping for groceries.
2:00PM — A lot of America is boring. Just epically boring. Gas station, field, field, church, field, abandoned barn, field, gas station. Holy fuck, toss in something random.
2:13PM — Fireworks and Tobacco Outlet. That’s pretty random. Well done, America.
3:07PM — Rockford, Illinois! Home of the Peaches, right? From that movie with Tom Hanks and Madonna. That was good. A League of Their Own. And Geena Davis. She’s like a genius, right? And Rosie O’Donnell. Not a genius. But good flick. Could have used some Streep. Yeah. Totally had no idea women played ball like that, but they made them wear skirts, which you’d think would be ass when it came to sliding, no pun there, but just total suck. That probably ruined some pretty nice legs.
Sometimes I wonder if I’ll be around when women start to play with us. Like, Wickenheiser. Holy shit. Sometimes I think it’s pretty fucking random that we have rules about whether you have a dick or not and so if you can play hockey and make a shit-ton of cash doing it. But then I think about Phaneuf laying one on a lady, and I guess I understand it.
There’s some chicks I’d like to see get an open-icer from, like, Dustin Brown. Just knock them into next week. No names, but, you know.
3:28PM — Volleyball Angie, for inviting me into her chasm where Marchand had previously made his mess, and not telling me beforehand. Yeah, Chara, at the blue line, with her head down. Take out a few teeth. That’s hockey justice.
3:29PM — Miss Mayhew was a teacher I had who totally had it in for me. She taught me typing. I can’t even believe that was a fucking class. She read out the final grades to the whole class, and when she got to my name she said, “51: a pass, but barely,” and I swear to god I had to be restrained. Slashed her tires that night. Or somebody’s, anyway. Same difference. But yeah, her, one of those deals where you ride the guy along the board until the glass changes height and you clock their head off the first post. One of those.
4:01PM — Probably gonna stop before Minny today. This puts things back a day, but can’t be helped. I know I came on great guns and should probably drive through the night, but I’m not feeling that right now. I feeling, honestly, like s’mores. Nice crackling campfire and some s’mores.
4:22PM — Supply stop. Stocked up. XL box of graham crackers. There was a moment where I thought cashier lady might recognize me, but then I saw that her eyes were just usually sort of swimmy and distant, and there wasn’t much behind them.
4:39PM — At least this lockout mess has let me reconnect with my love of campfires. Bright side, right? Fucking love campfires. Got the extra fat marshmallows. Boom.
5:32PM — Okay, Wisconsin, where you keep your campgrounds? And people? I mean, you can drive for days in Canada and not see people, but it’s like they were never there. Here, you drive and drive and don’t see any, and it’s like they were here, but now they’re gone.
5:49PM — No, like, seriously. One fucking campground. Is that too much?
5:51PM — I mean, fair enough, it’s November. But do you put them away somewhere?
5:59PM — It’s dark, I’m bummed. Settling for a motel. Maybe there’ll be a microwave so I can make nuked s’mores.
6:45PM — Officially the worst motel in America, and that’s saying something. I won’t defame them here, but holy shitballs. Sheets thin as paper, tiny TV, no fridge or microwave. Thankfully War Horse is tied up just outside my door. Might just sleep in her. But it’s killing me not to have that campfire.
8:39PM — This is killing me. Can’t watch anymore NBA basketball highlights or fucking Big Bang Theory. Need to have that campfire. Gonna have that campfire. There’s a forest behind this shitbag motel and I have some firewood stashed in War Horse’s belly. Gonna do this.
9:30PM — THIS. This is more like it. Bundled up, fire raging. Found a little hollow a couple of hundred yards into the woods here, behind a hill, lots of trees. Think I’m good here. Nice still night. I’m about five s’mores in now. Shit’s everywhere, on my hands, face, all down the front of my coat. Fuck it. This is living.
9:36PM — The fuck was that?
9:37PM — And that?
9:37:48PM — Something over there. I’m cool. Probs just a deer or something. No big.
9:38PM — WRONG WRONG WRONG It’s a dude. “NHLer Dies in Wisconsin Woods Under Mysterious Circumstances.” Fuck me fuck me fuck me. This’ll be hard to explain to gramps if/when I make it to heaven. Gramps is there, I know, because he was awesome and because, like he said, “Killing them Krauts wasn’t murder.”
9:39PM — You know what? Gramps would understand the need for a campfire.
9:40PM — Dude is just sitting there, right at the edge of the hollow, watching me watching him. What do I do here? Do I run?
9:42PM — So I’m like, Hello? And he’s like, “Hi there.” So what the hell, I invite him over. “Name’s Harold,” he says, and I’m like, “Oh, like Ballard.” “Don’t know who that is,” he says.
9:55PM — Harold has no idea who I am, he doesn’t follow sports or read papers. Lives nearby. “Got a house about four miles that way,” he says, pointing over his shoulder. “Just out for a walk.” I go, “Who walks four miles in the woods in the dark just for the hell of it?” And he goes, “Who rents a motel room and then wanders out back to burn wood?” Nice one, Harold, I said. Then he brought out the whiskey.
10:30PM — Turns out he’s got two flasks. What the hell, I think. Harold’s gotta be pushing 60 or more. Face like an old boot. He don’t know shit about hockey, but he’s interested in listening. So me, Harold and a couple of flasks of whiskey are gonna talk it out, settle this bullshit lockout. Then, if we’re still conscious, probably the rest of the world’s problems, at least until the whiskey runs out. Goodnight, world.
Further NHL Lockout Reading:
- “Hockey Night in Ramallah” by Ian Orti. Diplomats smuggling hockey sticks, suitcases full of Canadian Tire balls, and a CBC News cameraman welding nets for league in Palestine.
- “Cheap Throat: The Diary of a Locked-Out NHLer“. Read all the other entries here.
- “A Fan’s Note: How to Fix the NHL” by Mike Spry
- “Complicit in the NHL’s Demise: How the NHL & its players hate hockey, and how the fan is at fault” by Mike Spry
- The Barnstormer’s Take Hockey Back fan protest event