What I’m Riding . . . the Flyers and Vinny

It's a sad day when a boss allowing you to do your job becomes newsworthy

It’s a sad day when a boss allowing you to do your job becomes newsworthy

Do you think everything is about you?  Be honest.  In your life, when things happen, whether NYX discontinued your favorite shade of lipstick or some neighborhood dog keeps crapping every day at the same spot on your lawn, do you think it’s the Universe sending you a message?  When you think the worst is about to happen, doesn’t some inner voice kick in and say, “Of course that won’t happen.  God wouldn’t do that to me.”  Can’t you find a way to make your hairdresser’s bout with the flu all about you?  She got sick and had to cancel our appointment; I’m just not supposed to be in that building that day.  Is something tragic going to happen there?  Where should I be instead?  Oh no, what is God trying to tell me?

Full disclosure:  it’s all about me.  Even your hairdresser’s flu.  Even–you knew it was coming, beautiful babies–the disrespectful and downright cruel treatment of Vincent Lecavalier by the Flyers organization.  When my mom says, “I can’t imagine why they’re doing this to him,” I offer reasons.  Logical reasons.  Actually, not-so-logical reasons because there are no logical reasons other than when he gets on the ice he puts the puck in his own net every time he touches it.  Someone’s got it in for him, or a group of someones, it’s so pathetically obvious.  But to me, the answer is simple:  Mom, it’s all my fault.  I put aside writing Bury My Lovely to focus on other projects and now Vinny is feeling the Universe’s wrath.

If you’ve already read my blogs that deal with Vinny (the Muse II series) then you’ll have the full background.  The writing gods, Vinny and I: we have an understanding, even if one of that threesome isn’t aware of it.  Okay, maybe I’m the only one who’s aware of it, but it is all about me, right?  When Vinny was ripped from Tampa:  oh no.  Why would the Universe do that?  Ah, because he went to Philly.  My hometown.  Now I’ll be able to watch him with the family, we’ll all be on the same harmonious team, Rob and Steve will play charity golf with him.  I’ll get to watch him skate, I’ll pick up that book again, feel the inspiration FLOW (add a lord Jesus here if you wish).  Not so fast.  Because from the moment coach Peter Laviolette was given the boot–a mere three games after bringing Vinny on board–Lecavalier has slowly been stripped of his career by the Flyers.  Okay, by Ron Hextall.  I thought Berube was the culprit but no, it’s Hextall.  I wish on his son Brett, who also plays hockey, a Hextall-type coach holding the cards of his future.  And I hope he plays them the way the real Hextall has played them for Vinny.

For anyone not in the loop, I’ll give a brief summary:  In the summer of 2013 Vinny was bought out of his Lightning contract and went to the Flyers.  Apparently he wanted to work under Laviolette, who signed him for too much money when no one else in the organization wanted him.  Not my opinion, but that’s the way it seems, and the general consensus around Philly.  Now Laviolette is gone and Vinny’s paying the price.  First by being moved to left wing, his least comfortable spot and then by being benched by Laviolette’s replacement coach Craig Berube.  When Berube was given the ax at the end of last season, Hextall told Vinny in a meeting not to expect his situation to change just because Berube’s gone.  Thanks, boss.  They want him to retire.  They want him to leave.  They are indeed the Broad Street Bullies, even when it comes to terrorizing their own.  As for Vinny–what a gem.  The way he is handling the situation is better than most of us would.  If it were me I’d be skating around the ice with “slave” etched on my cheek ala Prince when Warner Brothers wouldn’t release him from an unfair, antiquated contract.

I was in Philly for the game against Buffalo last Tuesday.  I knew there was no chance of Vinny skating that game or any in the foreseeable future–until Bellemare got hurt.  Isn’t it awful that I feel a twinge of glee when someone gets hurt because then that will give Vinny a chance to play?  Sure enough, he’s back in the lineup.  I wouldn’t be surprised, however, if they benched him again and called up some player from the AHL.  They hate him that much.  And how embarrassing for them.  All this personal stuff taking precedence over business savvy.  Paying someone over four million to watch the game from the press box, eating peanuts and sipping Acqua Panna?  The higher-ups in this organization have been making stupid moves concerning their players since the shocking Richards-Carter trade.  And the team–and the fans–have been paying the price since.  The next year they dumped Briere.  The next, Hartnell.  How about dumping Hextall?  Let’s not even get into the coaching situation.  Okay, let’s.  Hiring coaches who have never coached in the NHL before to lead the Flyers?  Seriously?  This one is even named Hakstol.  Not only is he Hextall’s next lackey (any coach worth his business wouldn’t stand for someone else telling him how to handle his players), but his name is practically the same.  It’s so ridiculous it’s comical. For everybody, that is, except for the team.  The way they’re playing this year, the looks on their faces:  no joy.  No spark.  They look beaten to the ground.

To end on a positive note, a hopeful note, I think of that day over ten years ago when I was watching hockey with my mom and Robert, Flyers versus Lightning, and I saw Vinny.  I saw the face of my character Vincent Vollrath.  I had no idea that not only would he inspire my writing, but help me discover Tampa.  And with the grace and dignity he has shown throughout this entire Flyers crap, inspire me to stick to who I know I am inside regardless of how someone is trying to provoke me to behave otherwise.  I hope he doesn’t break.  I hope he gets the chance he deserves.  I hope I get to see him shine again.  I hope the book I am writing is a worthy thank you.



About whatimriding

Born and raised in Philly, I spent several years in Las Vegas, working at the House of Blues and writing about the city. I now reside in Tampa, where I continue to work on novels, scripts and short stories and tearfully await former Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier's return to the bay area.
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