Sunday, May 15, 2016

WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR – HOUSTON (A)

Continued from WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR - PRE TOUR (PART C) in January, 2016.]

The upcoming hockey tour marked the first time Mekkar and his younger brother Alf got to play together on the same team. That is, on a national level and in a formal manner outside of the village setting. It was mainly because of the age gap because Alf was about three and a half years younger than his older sibling.

Since Alf was large enough size-wise and skilled enough talent-wise he was an exception. Thus, the reason why he also usually participated with the older kids, along with Mekkar’s group, back home. Alf was very used to being one of the youngest, if not the most youthful, on any team he played for. Mekkar joked that his brother was just following in his footsteps in that regard, but it was far from the truth.

Now, Mekkar would get the chance along with some of his teammates to haze the rookie Alf in a team environment to introduce him to the fold. One of the tasks was that the younger players and definitely first year rookies on the squad had to load and unload as well as carry hockey equipment bags of teammates. To and from the buses, trains, autos, hotel rooms, and arenas on behalf of veteran players. It was all part of the initiation process and must be done to be one of the guys. All players have had to go through this process and it was easier than on some other squads.

To avoid or not participate in it was career suicide and the individual would be labeled as not a team player or worse, a troublemaker. Those unagreeable individuals would be ostracized and end up mostly by themselves. Few other players would want to interact with them or be associated with the extreme rebellious ones.

Some coaches would go even further and reduce that particular athletes’ playing time. Many would cut them outright, remove them, or attempted to remove that person altogether, through a trade if possible. It was like dealing with a cancer in the skipper’s mind and they want to use a proverbial scalpel to cut it out and remove it. Remember, most bench generals at that time were former players too! All respect for the unwilling participant to go along with the program would also be lost for good. Normally, that player would “hit the glass” (ceiling) and fail to move further upward to a higher level as a player. To avoid any issues, Alf chose to conform to the peer pressure and go along with the prescribed plan. Plus, he has an easy going disposition anyway.

It is important to note that Mekkar was not stupid and would use his intelligence to take advantage of this hierarchy of duty assignments. Even better still, The Arctic native would always have Alf sharpen his skates. The blades of Mekkar’ two fighting sticks also. Mekkar figured why should his younger brother’s talents be wasted. Plus, Alf was much better, in comparison, at this task than the Arctic Warrior. Alf was mechanical at his core and had a lot of practice at developing these particular skills back in the village. Requirements, such as these, were even placed upon Alf by his older brother. It was seen as a privilege to hang out and play games with the older gang, Mekkar’s buddies.

In attending to his role as the older guardian brother, Mekkar felt that Alf was getting an easy time of it on this squad. Well, as compared to some of the hazing rituals Mekkar had to endure in other locales and teams. Mekkar pondered back on some clubs’ past initiation customs. One started with being overpowered by a number of his new teammates. Then, being held down and tied to one of the locker room benches. Next, the Native from the North had all of the hair on his body completely shaved off. Boy, Mekkar flashed back in his mind, and remembered that he itched like crazy all over for awhile. At least, until all of the hair grew back. It was a good thing; at that time that Mekkar was younger then and had a lot less body hair. Either way he felt it grew back way too slowly, especially down below. Yet, right before being held down Mekkar got in some good shots of his own and a few teammates sported black eyes. It was no big deal because facial cuts and wounds are considered as normal to most hockey players. Injuries are seen as positive injuries to be bragged about and also receive sympathy from admiring girls.

Some past personal ordeals and experiences were the reason Mekkar refused to engage in many actual initial physical trials with regard to newcomers. Instead in his cockiness, the Arctic Warrior thought he was too smart to occupy himself in the physical side. Alf and Lasse have a term for it – arrogance. As a substitute, Mekkar would conduct mental and psychological warfare with the rookies because he enjoyed it.

The Native Son from the North wanted to save his brand of dishing out physical damage to be directed at opponents during games. Mekkar’s thinking was that you don’t hurt your own side, but unleash in all ways possible send the nastiness towards your real enemy - the opposition. He decided that the other side should always be the ultimate objects of his wrath. In furious tirades of berserker-like rage, at times Mekkar would forget this self made rule and directed his rage at fellow cohorts as well. It is often called - Passion for the Game - as he referred to it. However, many times on the ice, Mekkar crossed the fine line between madness and the usual routine.

Mekkar was always of the mindset that if you do not like the other team’s excessive and over the top glory performances after scoring, then do something about it. Take matters into your own hands and stop them. Leave them defeated them on the scoreboard too! Mekkar is of the belief that only losers and the double-edged sword media complain about trivial matters such as these. The Arctic Warrior has said on a few occasions, “If you want to shut someone up, kick their butt during the game, but in a much harsher tone. If you get to physically punish your opponent, even better. But, no whining about it!” Otherwise, Mekkar is convinced that the winners should get to celebrate their success and victories anyway they want. 

Unlike most people, he admires the nineteen eighties and nineteen nineties Miami Hurricanes football team celebrations and on the field end zone touchdown antics. The accomplishments were earned during the game. They deserve to celebrate them. Added to that, Mekkar knew some individuals who attended Miami school during that run. He asserts, “Forget cultural norms of not being offensive. If you don’t like it, do something about it or shut your trap and go away!” Mekkar’s attitude is diametrically opposed to today’s cultural environment of not offending anyone. The Far North Native believes Political Correctness has a damaging effect on the culture. Also, he is diametrically opposed to that way of thinking because it restricts freedom. Games on the ice were one place where Mekkar experienced a degree of independence. He is of the opinion that this PC issue is used for control of the people, by certain interests.