Sunday, July 10, 2016

WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR - SAINT PAUL (D)

Continued from WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR – SAINT PAUL (PART C) in July, 2016.]

Mekkar has a sports and other realm philosophy that is contrary to conventional wisdom. It is also in the spirit of American military general George S. Patton. Mekkar states matter of factly, “Don’t take what the defense gives you, and instead take what you want! How you want! Then, take it all on to victory!” Added to that concept he is also convinced that Sun Tzu’s strategies are vastly overrated and out of touch with the modern world.

Anyway, that evening’s match got underway and by its conclusion The Selects were handedly defeated six to three. Unfortunately, the Selects as a team failed to follow Mekkar’s advice to dictate the temp of this game and lost. Afterwards, Mekkar felt like he was in a fog resulting from, what he believed was a continual slug fest. Him and Lasse were the only ones seeming to be always in the mix of combative battle scraps during the match against the likes of Jack and Steve Carlson, Dave Hanson, Gordie “Machine Gun” Gallant, Curt Brackenbury, Bill Butters, etc.

Even what Mekkar lacked in size in comparison to most players, he was a gamer and his heart was not ever questioned. His sanity was a different matter altogether. Mekkar concluded he held his own on a few occasions in the night’s encounters and refused to be intimidated by any man unlike most of the Selects roster. Plus, he always felt that he had a punchers’ chance because his paws could exert great force and do serious damage due to past training by him.

However, Mekkar took the worst of it in his last fight of the game for him. He got bloodied for his efforts on that one. By that time the score was pretty much decided in favor of the home side. Mainly because most of the Mekkar’s team was thoroughly dispirited by the WHA’s version of the Board Street Bullies - the Fighting Saints (Of course not including Birmingham), and the opponent’s moniker fit perfectly. [Wikipedia; billsportsmaps.com; whahockey.com; markwilland.typepad.com/whablog/fights_and_brawls/index.html; hockey.ballparks.com/WHA/MinnesotaSaints/index.htm] Mekkar was of the opinion that the nasty nature of this game is the reason why the Selects got whipped as a team on this night.

In his last tussle Mekkar after wrestling for position while standing upright on his skates was unable to tie-up his fellow combatant’s jersey or arms. The native youngster was slightly being pushed off-balance with the grab hand. In that instance, Gallant hit The Arctic Warrior so many times in rapid succession that it resembled a machine gun. Yes, it takes more energy and is harder than it looks to fight for prime position, balance, and throw fists at the same time. Plus, Mekkar was worn down near the end of the third period. This could be readily seen by some wild punches thrown by him that uncharacteristically missed the mark – the head of the opponent.

After the fracas was broken up on the ice by the linesman and referee, Mekkar struggled to get to his feet. Alf described it as kind of a wobbled or staggered stance as his older brother skated back to the bench with help. Then, The Native from The North also needed his teammates to help him to the Locker Room. Notwithstanding, even in the punch-drunk state he was in, Mekkar was still wanting to tango again, if necessary. He usually always was ready to go, that is to fight, brawl, etc. with anyone anywhere at a moments notice. A couple of his Selects’ teammates and staff advised the stubborn Mekkar not to go back out and engage in another round of fista-cuffs. Expressly, since he got his butt handed to him in the last go around and hit the back of his helmeted head as both belligerents fell to the ice at the end of the scuffle. Mekkar’s night was over as time soon ran out while he was in the locker room.

Maybe it was a good thing that the Selects mandated all of their non-goaltending skaters on this journey to wear helmets or the damage would have been much worse. Netminders have their own special equipment. The teenager normally played without a lid back home. Until later on when he finally got used to wearing it. His issue was that wearing a helmet could affect or even cut off one’s peripheral vision on the ice.

Mekkar didn’t remember much of the next couple of days until the next stop on the tour as his noggin throbbed non-stop. The teen was kept awake also even when he desired sleep. Alf, Lasse, and Johan tried to fill in most of the daily details until the Mekkar got many of his wits back.

The Far North Native would never admit to suffering concussions during his career and now pays the piper for that past attitude. Players in those days never told the coaches or management about head injuries that occurred. The athletes just wanted to play and anything that kept that from happening was not acceptable. Players even made swear packs between them, especially in the cases of Alf, Lasse, Mekkar, and Johan. None of them were to ever tattle on any of them or vice-versa. It didn’t matter if one of the group recognized that something was definitely wrong and just not right mentally.

Concussions were only considered as just headaches back then. Their was a belief at the time that they were nothing that pain pills and alcohol couldn’t cure. Mekkar says, “Or you just didn’t care about it because you were buzzed.” It was fitting the Fighting Saints were battling to stay alive. Their club eventually folded due to a lack of funds. [billsportsmaps.com; whahockey.com; Wikipedia]