Tuesday, August 4, 2015


The exclusive upbringing in a sparsely populated area, the time period, and cultural background Mekkar grew up in dictates his views. He looks at many things from a very different perspective than most other individuals. It is not saying whether one way is better or not as good as the other; it’s just from a different cultural inclination.

For one thing, Mekkar doesn’t compare himself in a physical sense in either size or stature to other people. It wouldn’t make any difference anyway. The contrast he makes is to bears, even polar bears and other wild animals in nature. Mekkar does that with all people, no matter how large or small they are. To Mekkar, everything in life is a matter of perspective and affects their individual outlook. Plus, Mekkar already takes the position that most people are taller than him anyway, so it rarely crosses his mind and is a non issue to him. Thus, he is not intimidated by humans and has regularly throughout his life dated women much taller than himself.

Sometimes players on other teams, as well as, their more vocal fans would taunt him. A few of those shouted out statements were in a derogatory sense. Some of those words directed at him were regarding his statue and native background. Mekkar figured it was the case because he has some native traits compared to most of the people he encounters.

Comments would come down from the stands like fireballs from a magician. A few signs with cutout pictures of The Arctic Warrior in compromising positions, swear words, and worse were aimed specifically at the teenager. It would sometimes make Mekkar seethe with anger and want to go into the crowd and kick some butt. At the same time, Mekkar would also use those negative darts as motivation to heighten his intensity on the ice. It meant that Mekkar would amplify his in-game nastiness far beyond his usual feisty disposition. This could be problematic for him due to the fact his attitude change would cause Mekkar to take more penalties and leave his team shorthanded more often. Goalies and coaches were not always happy with him crossing over that fine line between effectiveness and disruption to the overall game plan.

Mekkar would moreover use any cheering and support for the home team’s exploits as fuel for him. On the road he would accept actual crowd applause and make his own. A sort of deceptive mind game, if you will. In any case, Mekkar tried to apply any whistling or booing directed at him as targeted toward another player. It was not always a successful endeavor because Mekkar has incurred a variety of food and liquids dumped on him while spending time for his actions in the sin bin. These mind tricks eventually made forays on the road more bearable for Mekkar. Even so, Mekkar can’t stand to lose and it is much more difficult to be victorious in games away from the comforts of home.

Later on, The Arctic Warrior was given a piece of advice in a meaningless exhibition match by one of his hockey heroes that was a well-known defenseman. His idol told him, “Just let it (the statements) go, don’t worry about it, you can’t change or fight everyone.” Sirga, his mama, repeatedly gave Mekkar the same advice. Still, the native from the far north brushed aside the advice and continued to do things his own way. Outwardly, Mekkar still continued to play effectively on the ice. Inwardly, the comments continued to bother Mekkar enough to make him want explode with fury. Added to that, it stewed a desire to inflict retribution against all who crossed his path. Once in a while, after incurring objects tossed at him from the stands, Mekkar would boil over. Then, he and other teammates would climb over the glass or metal gates (which he referred to as chicken wire) above the dasher boards. They would seek out those responsible for starting the melee and pay them back with a physical beatdown. Players venturing into the stands and having altercations with fans was not uncommon in that era. The most well-known example was the Philadelphia Flyers, who were also dubbed the Broad Street Bullies. Still, there was a risk for all parties involved. Unfortunately, Mekkar’s angry behavior forced the squad to frequently play shorthanded, while he spent time in the sin bin.

Trouble was, Mekkar was extremely headstrong and received that trait from his mama and grandmama. He was young, dumb, and full of ... [John C. McGinley as Ben Harp character in Point Break, 1991]  Mekkar even replied back to his idol’s wise advice that was given to him by muttering under his breath, “Wanna bet, I will kick all of their butts, all that taunt me, those stupid morons.” Oh! The wisdom and sage counsel wasted on the young. [Kurt Vonnegut, 1997 MIT graduation ceremony speech] However, that freely given advice turned out to be absolutely correct as Mekkar matured, got older, and became more aware of his ever changing surroundings.

The fledgling young man had heard all kinds of crass remarks and jokes directed his way regarding reindeer. Alf, on the other hand and most probably because he did not resemble any outward native characteristics, avoided this abuse on purpose. The younger sibling of Mekkar hid any aspect of his native status or background including using a different last name than Mekkar from the legal birth choices available.

These factors eliminated negative preconceived ideas, perceptions, and bias towards Alf. Mekkar embraced his uniqueness and would on occasion correct others as to their misconceptions. At other times, he would outwardly brush off ignorant statements of the unknowing. That depended on his mood at that time.

Taunts showered upon The Arctic Warrior throughout the season and multiplied as the Christmas season approached. Fables such as Rudolf the red nosed reindeer and more direct personal attacks heightened for the duration of the winter. Mekkar knew better and was intimately aware that reindeer drop their antlers on a yearly basis. This normally occurs with males after the rutting or mating season in the late fall/early wintertime. Yet, it is not unheard of still having them later on in the calendar year. Remember, there are always exceptions to every rule. [Marcus Tullius Cicero’s defense of L. Cornelius Balbo in 56 BC; alt-usage-english.org/exception_proves.html]

He had also been present during many instances when the female reindeer drop their antlers earlier in the year. Females normally grow them back after calving time in the very late winter/early spring. Mekkar got sick of the constant barrage of those stupid myths retorted over and over from many directions. Mekkar would comeback with sharp remarks such as, “If a reindeer has a red nose it probably came about from either being attacked by predators or in the process of being slaughtered.” Sometimes, Mekkar would get the business from fellow teammates as well. Usually, in a jovial setting. Mekkar says that he has heard it all, especially the wisecracks regarding herder occupations and native stereotypes.

When it came to dishing out the physical punishment Mekkar never held back. He should have played smarter earlier in his hockey career, but Mekkar was too young to realize it at the time. In other words, letting his frustrations out by dishing out vicious bodychecks at every opponent as retaliation for the abuse he received. Sirga warned her many occasions by telling him that he is one person and can carry out a limited number of actions. While, there are more individuals who can avenge in return. Mekkar surely does understand his folly now, in the distant future, as his body is crippled and falling apart. Some days it is a chore just to get out of bed for the day. However, The Arctic Warrior was aware of the potential risks and accepted them willingly to play a game he loved. Mekkar to this blames no one else but himself for the results. He just wishes the miniscule salaries of his time would have been comparable to the current era.

It is too bad the bullheaded Mekkar didn’t listen to others who had counseled him through their own past experiences about the prospective physical results. Mekkar now wishes he could have looked in the future and observe the consequences. Yet, he had to learn his lessons the hard way. He now attributes it as being juvenile with the thought that it will not happen to him. As the paraphrased saying goes, “Those who do not learn from past history are doomed to repeat it (and its past mistakes).” [Edmund Burke, 1729-1797] or something to that effect according to Mekkar.

Sirga told Mekkar flat to his face on more than one occasion, “No matter how much you give, you always receive more in return. That is because there is only one of you and so many more of them ready to return the favor.” This statement or a variety of it had been passed down to Sirga by her mama and through their family lineage. Sirga also related this piece of wisdom to her oldest son regard to a physical health. But, of course the young Mekkar did not take it to heart nor apply the message into his play on the ice.

There is an adage used frequently during the Christmas season – It is better to give than to receive. Mekkar preferred this application instead. It showed itself to be especially true when he would throw his body around on the ice. From time to time, Mekkar would wipe opposing players out with hard body checks of all types. Some might have been crossed the line of fair play.

Yet, Mekkar like most other teenagers are prone to blow off much of the advice and sage wisdom given to him by adults. Mainly because he thought it was so old school thinking and the times had changed. Mekkar was growing up into adulthood, so he thought he knew better. Young people in this stage of life tend to think they know it all and much more than anyone else. Mekkar felt that no parent or relative could relate to him during this stage of his own life, as well as, his own chosen direction. There is the tendency, for young people, to forget that all adults have already gone through those experiences beforehand. They have made it past that age.

The result usually is that each individual, as Mekkar eventually did, has to stubbornly learn the grim realism of various lessons in life. Yes, Mekkar would find out that when he thinks he knows it all, that attitude will soon make him look foolish. Life has tested him and humbled him through trying circumstances. Trials and tests would materialize sooner than he ever imagined. It was destined that the boy would become a man by gaining the necessary life instruction and attributes to journey on to the next phrase.

It was beneficial that Mekkar had been previously prepared for this upcoming hockey tour. Even the right wrist and hand that had been injured earlier in the year in the snowmobile race was fully healed. Mekkar was unaware that he was a cog in the wheel and part of an overall evolution process in life and sports. His own native culture emphasizes this belief of individuals are part of a larger design in the world itself. Fortunately, the extremely tough training regimen helped shape Mekkar into the player and person he would become.

This was a period of time where he would normally play for various clubs throughout the year and then take a five week hiatus. The break from hockey would occur during part of the summer. Mekkar would participate in other sports to still keep in shape. Many players in those days took a true off season break from athletics in general or work more hours at their place of employment. Very few superstars could claim sports as their fulltime employment. Lower pay dictated that Mekkar had to work for a living like everyone else. The idea was to get as far away as possible from their primary sport endeavor to avoid complete burnout.

Some players like Mekkar would increase their daily alcohol intake during this time. It was more for enjoyment and pleasure. Sometimes it appeared as if he were deprived of it and trying to make up for lost time. When in reality Mekkar drank quite a bit during the season. Many players used booze as a pain killer to numb the senses along with medications. That is, when he wasn’t partying with his buddies. After the sabbatical, many players like Mekkar would return with a fresh attitude and a renewed appreciation for the game. Training camp was primarily used to get back into hockey game shape. Mekkar loved the games themselves, not the daily grind.

Very different from today where year round sport specific training and tailor made workouts are the norm for athletes. Numerous individuals hire instructors to have them come into pre-season camp already in fantastic shape. Mekkar refers to it as a refining process into full sport and specific preparedness. This is not to say that all dry land exercise was avoided altogether back in the day. However, it was nowhere near as prevalent as in current times. It was a different mentality than because the majority of hockey players and professional athletes in general received a small salary in comparison. Most had to work at jobs during the off-season just like the rest of society.

Mekkar is of the opinion that some of those factors made pro athletes more in-touch and relatable to their fans of yesteryear. It was an environment that is very dissimilar to many detached athletes of today who can afford to take off-seasons to sculpt their bodies on a full time basis.

The young man himself played other sports during his time away from ice hockey. He would play some soccer (futbol) even though he was not nearly as good at it. His hockey defenseman mindset compelled Mekkar to position himself as a defender on the pitch, as well.

Alf has said that Mekkar was also a decent tennis player who could easily move around the court and chase down shots in an efficient manner. Plus, he had a wicked first serve that more than one hundred twenty miles per hour {193.12 kph) at times. The problem was that the serve was erratic at best and fantastic when he got it in. Mekkar would mess around with inconsistent second serve. Occasionally, he could put an outrageous chop spin that would sometimes barely cross over the net and die inside the service court on the other side. It didn’t happen often. Plus, Mekkar double faulted frequently due to his unwillingness to adapt his serve. He would try to his the ball as hard as he could. It didn’t always matter where the ball landed. Mekkar used the notion that force is everything revealing his feisty nature on the court. He did not apply himself with the same drive in tennis, as ice hockey. Alf commented that his older brother only used racquet sports as a distraction from his main sport. At times, his competitive nature and fiery disposition would take over and express themselves in a variety of ways.

The adolescent had observed a bit of live match play and many games. Mekkar also watched some tape and films featuring top notch professional tennis players. Bjorn Borg, Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors, Roscoe Tanner with that fast serve, and more were present as visual tutors to help improve his game, if he so desired. Mekkar attempted to incorporate what he could and modify it to his own game abilities.

Mekkar was a poor volleyer at the net. His reaction time was fine, but racquet control to keep the ball in the court was an issue. At first he followed the mainstream use of the smaller head wood frame. Then, later to the newly introduced oversized metal rackets. [Wikipedia] They both contributed to many tennis balls flying out of bounds on Mekkar’s part.

He was basically a baseliner and learned the extreme top spin forehand shot by watching Borg. Since Mekkar had very strong wrists developed in ice hockey timing of the ball meeting the racket strings at the correct point was the goal to get the desired effect. Bjorn was at the top of his game during that period. Mekkar was unable to copy Borg’s two handed backhand. Instead, he would try to emulate Connors left hand cross court deep returns, especially when receiving serves.

To cover more ground on the tennis court Mekkar might receive a serve from his opponent with the racquet in his left hand and switch the racket from one hand to the other. This had to be done quickly and frequently depending on the situation during a point rally. He got good enough to do this during individual points without looking and still have the proper grips on the tennis twig.

This was effective for Mekkar. At first, some others watching this thought it was a very odd technique, but Mekkar used anything that most useful and adaptable for him. By watching Rod Laver on film, he learned better footwork for efficient movement around the court. The Arctic teenager also had hockey quickness in his arsenal. Even though Mekkar was at the time slightly more dominantly right handed he was basically ambidextrous in many areas. It would freak out people on the opposite side of the tennis surface when Mekkar would return serves with the racquet in his left hand. His groundstrokes were better and reached closer to the back line from the left side.

Previous injuries had forced Mekkar to be able to use both arms and hands more evenly. One side would be enhanced while the injured part is recovering back to full strength and use. This was helpful for the advancement of his hockey career. Mekkar customized these additional developed abilities into his imaginary games like throwing a ball from both sides of the body. Due to more serious physical setbacks later on, those formerly developed skills have all been negated.

The adolescent’s understanding of the game and fairly competent tennis ability helped him get a job for a short time. The place of employment was at one of the premier sports clubs after he moved to down south to the big city to play hockey for one of the local teams. Mekkar considered the possibly of forming important contacts, at this exclusive place. Anything to help Mekkar reach his goal of playing pro hockey.

He has developed a philosophy that eventually you might need a skill or something facet you have learned for a particular future instance in your life. Akin to a reindeer no part is wasted. The trouble is Mekkar never knows when or where it might be required or exercised. The hope was Mekkar retained some of instruction previously given by Aslak, back in the village or while on the reindeer trek.