Sunday, August 28, 2016


He figured this environment would not have been so if the Selects were facing off against a team in one of the larger cities, would it? But, in Mekkar’s intellect and reasoning, once again thanks to the idiotic organizers of this tour the squad was stuck in a small town. As well as performing in this partially constructed building as he pointed out. Mekkar was about to change his perspective to further prepare himself for the upcoming matchup.

In the first period when the winter wind blew through the arena Mekkar could have swore he heard the crowd make a shivering noise in unison. The Native from the North decided to treat this match as if they were outdoors. Similar to, when he was younger, playing on the frozen lake back home in the arctic. That way he could play his normal style with boldness despite the elemental effects on his team as a whole.

Lasse, Mekkar, and Alf all had a huge advantage over most of their spoiled squad members who were used to more modern game conditions. The arctic three had played hockey in much colder weather outdoors and had better adapted to chilly breezes back in the village. Mekkar spoke up and said that, “This was nothing you babies!” Still some of traveler teammates were quite miserable throughout this game. The coaching staff gave more playing minutes to some of the Selects’ team members that were less used to the colder climates. So that to keep their body temperatures warmer and not let it drop too far.

Alf, Lasse, and Mekkar always came prepared and had packed, in their minimal hand carry luggage, beanie caps or toques to put on under their helmets. Growing up in the colder regions teaches one that the top of the head is where the most body heat escapes. They all had extra mittens to put fit under the gloves also. Mekkar’s hand was heavily taped so he was unable to use the gloves or had no need for them. He loaned them to a team member who needed them badly, but charged him to wash them thoroughly before return them back to him. Otherwise, a butt kicking would be in store.

Mekkar also saw during his own quick rink inspection and observation that the glass at the far ends of that rink was shorter than normal. He realized that the home club must prefer puck possession, thus it was a priority in this game. During this match Mekkar also noticed that children would stand right up against the glass to watch the game. Furthermore they would be protected from the crisp wind gusts that whipped through the rink every so often. There was a set of stands on each side of the rink. Even though there wasn’t a large crowd to view the festivities, the sound from the voices would carry. It was much louder than it should have been for the small number of fans in attendance. Most of the Selects were motivated through efforts to retain their body heat and desire to feel warmth on the day. Subsequently, the visitors completely dominated their competition that afternoon by a score of fourteen to one. Mekkar quipped, “This time the shoe is on the other foot and we get to enjoy a blowout for a change.”

If Mekkar thought the last place was an odd environment to have a hockey game, the next match in Italy topped it. After the last tilt, the Selects left by way of a charter airplane along with other modes of transportation. The squad arrived at their destination the next evening.

After checking into their meager accommodations and getting settled Mekkar, Lasse, Alf and Johan headed out on the hunt to find any nightlife. Well, at the very least round up some of the local talent. They all had drinks in their hands during the search. The club they wandered into was not the greatest but Mekkar replied, “The chicks are just okay here but they will look a lot better when we are drunk.”

Those four opportunistic guys all were hooked for the rest of the crisp night. It was tough to get going the next morning when the whole team met together at the hotel a couple of hours before the one o’clock afternoon match. Mekkar felt in the course of the pre-game preparation session that these early game starting times were beginning to cut into his regular party time. He was hoping and embarked on lobbying team management for evening matchups. Favorably for Mekkar, he still had some strong medications for his injuries to help him cope with the unexpected changes.

The native from the north had a sense that something was going to be peculiar for this match. Ever since he became aware that it was going to start earlier than the previous one. When the team arrived at the rink, if one wanted to call it that, Mekkar’s nagging intuition was right on the money.        

In Mekkar’s view this match was about to take the form similar to an outdoor pond hockey game. There were boards with very short glass around the ice surface. However, the boards did not completely surround the rink as they were supplemented by a few huge boulders without any plexiglass on top of them in some spots. The big stones appeared to have been there previously or specifically laid in place by large machinery, thought Mekkar.

Promptly at 1pm the match began. It took full advantage of the daylight since there was no roof, building walls of any kind ringing the area, and only a few light poles existent. Sort of like one would find at your local tennis courts. There were older fans sitting in the portable metal stands on one side of the rink. The rest were standing all around and singing songs, chanting, and making noise in support of their local club.

The Selects skated their rear-ends off as prodded by the coaches and turned in a masterful performance. They had possession of the puck more than eighty percent of the game. It was even more of a dominant performance than the last time out. The drawback was that the home team began to play the body more than the puck. A couple of the Selects were hammered into the big rocks that were part of the rink. Mekkar was involved in one of those incidents too and paid the price. He stated as he was coming to the bench after the hit, “At least the boards have some give, but those rocks are sturdy with no leeway.” Mekkar, unlike a couple of his other fallen and injured teammates, finished the match. Although, not without some discomfort on his part.

Friday, August 26, 2016


The Selects had a record of two wins and five losses against the WHA squads and no victories in the seven matches they faced off against NHL teams. Actually, they did better than expected by winning a couple of the earlier games against the pro teams. It was expected that they would lose them all, even get crushed in most of them. The Selects’ club did meet the forecast by prevailing in the next eight games without a loss versus the collegiate plus a couple of Canadian major junior clubs. Mekkar and teammates showed dominance in those matches except the last one due to the fatigue factor. This despite having a roster that was younger overall than all of the squads so far on this portion of the hockey tour.

Mekkar recalled that the coaches and team officials still always expected more from the team. At the same time, the Selects’ players were being constantly reminded to be on their best behavior and frequently told, “You are goodwill ambassadors representing your country”. Mekkar joked to some of his teammates, “If that were true, those in charge would have sent the real top tier national team instead of us. The one that plays in the annual World Championships, the Olympics, and big tournaments like that! Our squad was sent to fulfill previously made exchange agreements.” All of his teammates that heard the rebellious native’s comments laughed as they knew he was absolutely correct in his assessment.

This travelling circus as Mekkar referred to it still had other stops to play more matches after the stint in North America. The schedule was supposed to be very packed and have the team arrive in quite a few cities all over. Yet, the reality of the daily news passed onto to the players became a running comedy of errors in their minds. The whole farce seemed to Mekkar that whoever was arranging the different matches to be played was ill-prepared. The lack of organization of the tour was turning out to be more like a continuing gag. The team members didn’t know from one to the next if the schedule match would take place that day or not. Cancellations and changes in the calendar would at times be discovered the very morning of that particular game day. It was frustrating to say the least for Mekkar and many of the others.

Maybe, Mekkar figured it was just an absence of finding quality opponents for the Selects to face off against. Of course, neither he nor any of them really knew for sure. Sometimes the players were informed with excuses of arena scheduling changes along with a host of other justifications. Mekkar thought many of those admissions were untrue. He knew better through what he learned about prearranging playing time and space availability planned far in advance. He did just recently help manage, along with teammates, a team and home facility while performing on the ice at the same time. There were matches already cancelled on this tour that would have taken the Selects to Brazil, Australia, Japan, Thailand, France, Germany, England, and South Africa. At least there still a few games left thought Mekkar. Anyway, the Selects next game on the docket was in Switzerland and they now had no idea what to expect.

Well, Mekkar was notified that he is now not welcome from participating in some engagements and cities in Canada. This was due to some altercations with opposing fans, coaches, and players. From what even a few of Mekkar’s own team members considered as over-the-top taunting, swearing, and object throwing in retaliation to having items poured on him in the sin bin. Mekkar didn’t care what they said about or how they labeled him. As a pest, Mekkar was not about to let up with respect to his behavior either. His attitude was if management wants to send me back home then do it otherwise shut up and move on. As for the objects thrown back at the crowd Mekkar now admitted he might have went too far in his reaction because it incited the fans even more against him.

On one occasion, Mekkar went to his bench to retrieve one of the two of his heavier twigs encased with a thicker layer of fiberglass. He called them his special fighting sticks and proceeded to engage another combatant in a stick fight by the home bench. Mekkar thought of these fights while wielding the lumber as like a dual between medieval knights aiming their lances. In this case he was on sharp blades on frozen water instead of on horseback. Mekkar had practiced this type of one-on-one battle back home. He became extremely adept at it. This time he knocked the other guy’s wood club from his grasp.

In Mekkar’s fury he swung his stick at the fellow willing belligerent’s head in a downward chopping motion. The adversary ducked out of the way and one of the homeside coaches received a vicious slash across the face instead. It goes without saying that Mekkar was kicked out of the game and then later reprimanded by his squad’s officials for his violent conduct. Mekkar later felt that someone in the Selects management must have appeased another important individual in that city. He was lucky that no assault charges were filed against him in a court of law. It was a different time and place, but he would not be able to escape in the same manner today. Mekkar got to continue on the rest of the tour and was not sent back home at this point. Still, Mekkar was on a very short leash.

The panorama in Switzerland to Mekkar was so beautiful in some areas of the country he thought they should put them on touristy postcards or for sale paintings. Since the Selects came into town early the day before Mekkar got to check out some of the surrounding sights. Yet, he was really tired and the rapid travel time zone changes affected his body today. He learned from working at the airline with his mama, well dragged along by her, that a good rule to follow was one day of rest for crossing every three time zones travelled. Utterly the recovery time was going to be shortened in preparation for this matchup and its 2pm local start time.

Arctic warrior that he is, Mekkar thought that it was a weird time to begin a hockey game. He attributed it to some type of local media broadcast reasoning or cause. Mekkar would soon learn why this oddity was in effect. When his squad arrived at the rink about an hour prior to game time, Mekkar went to check it out. Wow, he quickly noticed the differences and then went directly to the visitor’s lockerroom area to change and get ready. Mekkar described what he saw to a few of other teammates. Most of the Selects’ players were already into their pre-game rituals and ignored him. A few others on the team didn’t believe his story at all.

Mekkar didn’t even bother to converse with any of the netminders, just because to him they are aliens or from space. He felt that goalies are the only individuals crazy, weird, or stupid enough to accept a position where they received rapidly firing discs at themselves. Plus, other players coming at them too! Mekkar has performed netminding duties in the past but only in practices. Additionally, the assignments were by his coaches under duress and desperate to fill a need. The net duties taken by him were always against his better judgment and wishes. Even though it was to help the team, he thought who in their right mind would be crazy enough to play this position as a regular job.

No wonder the goalies are all nuts to accept hard solid rubber pucks flying at them at dangerous speeds. Only recently the last of the maskless guardians of the net had retired. At least by carrying this function outside of formal games Mekkar gained an appreciation of what he personally knew what the netminders go through. However, Mekkar was not about to change his game because he believed it would render him less effective on the ice.

As the team came out onto the ice Lasse discerned that yes there was a roof, but no building walls around the outside the stands and the arena. The overhead lighting was not the brightest either. Fortunately there was some day light that contributed to the atmosphere there. Mekkar had earlier tried to warn his teammates but they did not listen or rebuffed him altogether. So, he didn’t speak anymore about the conditions and would let them find out for themselves. 

Monday, August 22, 2016


Then, the effects of the cherry and possibly other fruits as well bombing raid set in. Mekkar’s uniform and some items underneath were now soaked with juice mixed with his own sweat and it began to run down into all parts of his gear and undergarments. Mekkar felt like people in the seats nearby had also poured more cups of juice or a liquid that smelled like beer all over him. It was starting to feel sticky to the touch.

When Mekkar had served his crime time in the hockey jail there was a break in the action during the game. He made a bee-line from the sin bin straight to the lockerroom across the ice. Mekkar also left his own unintentional small streak from the assault to mark his journey off to the bowels of the arena. The game officials called for time to repair the ice surface and try to lessen the visibility of the new line created by the Mekkar mess.

Selects’ players thought the whole situation was pretty funny and saw that Mekkar was steamed. They knew he would be back for more extraction and retaliation for this act against him. Mekkar hurried to get out of the drenched juice soaked gear and clothing he was wearing and took a quick shower. He had insufficient backup equipment of his own and so had to scramble up some other items to be fully outfitted to participate in the third and final period of the game.

Mekkar subsequently stated out loud and directed his comments to anyone nearby who would listen regarding his theory of why the home team was wearing their dark colored sweaters at home for this matchup. Since the home club gets to choose this meant the visitors had to don their light background jerseys. Now this is a common theme with the advent of third or alternate jerseys for the teams playing in their own backyard.

However, the normal trend during this era was the home teams wore the whites or in the case of the NBA Los Angeles Lakers donned their yellow jerseys at home with the darken shades being worn on the road. Special occasions were a whole different environment entirely and excluded from these tendencies. Mekkar was now extra suspicious as he changed and cleaned himself up for more activity in the last period.

He just wanted revenge and was about to take it out on any opposing player foolish enough to venture in his space on the ice. A cruising for a bruising in a brutal physical manner was to be unleashed as a result of the fans display against him. Until, he was kicked out of the game altogether.

In the course of his first shift of the third stanza, one of the home players made a smart remark to Mekkar. This set him off and Mekkar went on the attack. After knocking out that player with a good right hook to the chin, he let gravity take over and the victim fell to the ice in a heap. The enraged teen was happy to see his favorite color of red blood flowing from his victim. Right then Mekkar received his fighting major infraction along with a game misconduct penalty and was ejected from the match.

This led to the crowd serenading him while the chorus of the song Na Na Na Na Hey Hey Hey Good Bye by Steam played in the background. In addition, The Arctic Warrior received a personal escort to the lockeroom where he got to listen to the rest of the game on a local radio station. Mekkar is completely different from most people in that he believes in getting mad and getting even with his target. He was still ticked off because Mekkar felt that he didn’t really accomplish his due amount of retaliation. Nonetheless, it is wise to not to mess with Mekkar and pick another mark to heap abuse upon. Oh! Yeah, the Selects won the game 5-1 and totally turned the tables after Mekkar’s forced departure from the match.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


The Selects as a team were on a high note because they won six straight games versus collegiate teams. Next up was a matchup against two junior hockey squads. This story refers to the first game of the two.   

Mekkar was in a bad mood on this evening and that attitude resulted in more than his usual aggressive nastiness on the ice. About midway through the first period of the match The Arctic Warrior was whistled for roughing. Then, he was sent to his hockey home away from home, the penalty box. At first, he was aware by the booing that he was a target of crowd displeasure. Then, hometown fans began to give him some more grief. Mekkar responded by squirting some water, from the water bottle, at fans over the short glass. However, the home fans got their revenge. The Native from the North proceeded to get bombed during this particular visit to the sin bin.

However, he didn’t recognize the onslaught of objects being thrown at him while doing his time in the box. That was, until he caught one with his hand and exclaimed, “What! It looks like cherries!” He flicked a few right back into the crowd which incited them even more to continue the rain upon him.

Well, he was playing a club that resided in a region for its bountiful assortment of fruits. Mekkar thought to himself out loud as usual, but normally unaware of it, and asked “Where did the fans get all of those cherries?” Cherries, like marshmallows, are a symbol used by the fans to show who they think is not tough and to get under a player’s skin. All who know Mekkar definitely wouldn’t place him in the soft category.

Before this trip to the penalty box, Mekkar was involved in this game against a well known junior squad on the continent. He was playing with extra roughness due to his mood. Since Mekkar doesn’t care what people in general and especially enemy fans think of him, he was unrepentant. He clearly was not planning on modifying his behavior.

This attitude was straddling a fine line because he was still performing for a team that was representing his country. The Selects team executives had minimum standards and codes of conduct for players to follow. It was even applied in the face of taunts and worse actions taken against him and his teammates. This conflicted with Mekkar’s disposition and style of play which to him elevated his effectiveness on the ice.

The young man from the Arctic fought his inner being with its urge to taunt the unfriendly and downright hostile crowd there. He did respond as his normal self to opposing players who gave him grief with comments such as, “I have encountered bears, so fear of humans Ha! You have to be kidding me!”

Alf’s sibling felt that the ice surface was not in prime shape and intentionally prepped in that manner to slow down the speed advantage of his team. Any way to help the plodding and slower home side, huh! Mekkar suspected this treachery because he knew it was odd for a rink in this area to have such a poorly maintained ice surface. One could tell there was a pride about that. Mekkar also felt that the building was warmer than it should be because he acutely familiar with arena operations in general.

Mekkar wasn’t sure if the cherries and possibly other fruits were given out in bunches, bags, or gift baskets as a promotional giveaway items to induce greater attendance to the game. He thought the idea was one that was outside of the box. He was of the opinion maybe the local community was having a fruit festival and might have had a different incentive item given to the fans each night. He also asked the question of why let the fans bring these outside things into the arena in the first place? Would it hurt the concession sales there which all or at least a portion of food sales and parking fees from an event go directly to the home team.

These are things Mekkar had running through his mind while serving his sentence in the penalty box. It was quite a regular spot for him and a very well known part to Mekkar, especially back home. Well, since he had such a penchant for taking aggressive penalties.

On this evening, Mr. Bad Attitude, Mekkar had heard of rowdy fans at junior rinks in other locations around North America doing crazy stunts like this. Like tossing batteries, red dyed and colored rice, or spraying various substances at visiting team benches and on individual players themselves. In a few locations heavy tarps and temporary roofs would be used to cover non-homeside benches and tunnels to and from the dressing room to combat these unruly fan behaviors. Since Mekkar had heard about stories such as these before he could not just discount the notion or possibilities. He understood that these fan responses could erupt and arise at any moment. Thus, Mekkar needed to always be ready and prepared like as if he was on a reindeer trek watching out for predators.

Back when he, at home earlier in the decade, first observed in person the nasty tempered clubs coming from North American hooligan hockey breeding grounds. Those visitors acted in the same manner and brought some of their drunken supporters with them. Mekkar figured the squads where imitating the behaviors of belligerent, rowdy, and downright rude to almost everyone around them fans. Monkey see, Monkey do! 

Thursday, August 18, 2016


Unknown to the young Mekkar and by the time of this matchup versus the Penguins, they were already interested parties in acquiring his future services. Clubs from both the WHA & NHL observed his play and loved his toughness. They appreciated the fact he soldiered on and was still effective in a limited role despite the serious hand injury. Plus, the fact that he missed no games on the Selects barn-storming tour. The scouts had their ways of founding out hard to discover inside information from their sources about hockey personnel.

It was a good thing that Mekkar was not cognizant of the interest in him because that might have put too much pressure on him. He might have tried too hard to impress the pro hockey brass with the result of more on ice frequent mistakes and errors. It was already tough enough to draw from the well of his full capacity of skills being exhibited because of the upper body injury. The physical diminishment was considerable, but the determination and heart was extremely visible.

Mekkar learned some new inside lessons during this matchup. He learned the art of sending a message to on ice officials for disparate rulings. Rulings that greatly favored one team over another and ultimately impacted the outcome of the game. He saw examples of individuals trying to line up body checks, usually near the boards, of opponents that would include hopefully clip the refs in the process also. He also overheard statements such as “Be more consistent in your calls for both sides!” The reasoning was to get the attention of the on ice decision makers and send a message to them. That is, if they are going to be awful, at least be consistently bad for both teams as much as possible. Show no favoritism because players and fans eventually learn the referees’ tendencies and recognize these erratic stances. He wanted to incorporate these elements into his game as well.

Other previously unknown perspectives to Mekkar were introduced to him during this part of the trip as well. Whether he want to be or not, Mekkar would be introduced to more insight about the game he loved. For instance, this was an era where dubious activities were always taking place. Members of one squad would place bounties as a reward of carrying out aggressive moves. Violence against individual opposition players, coaches, referees, whole teams, what have you, were common. Mekkar found out that these spirited undertakings have been present for a long time. It could be found in a myriad of athletics such as hockey, football, and many others. At many levels of sports too! Such an environment exists in other realms like the cutthroat business world also. If one needs proof do a research on the mafia and hidden government operations. So, it was not a new phenomenon.

Whoever says they do not know about it is either lying, involved somehow, or willfully ignorant. This includes coaches, managers, executives, etc. Thus, the reason why these deeds of intent are still conducted regularly today.

Management and executives usually turn a blind eye to this type of behavior, but they are acutely aware that it happens as most were athletes at one time or another. However, the suits who are just politician lawyers do target their specific punishment decrees and mete out retribution based on a host of reasons. Some reactions are in reaction to public outcry and perception. Others are due to hidden jealousy, choosing sides in a rivalry, or flat out hatred.

Many excuses are made to conceal the dictatorial mandates and exercise of authoritative power which in turn has an extremely high potential for abuse. There is truth in the saying that: Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. [Lord Acton, 1887; William Pitt the Younger, The Earl of Chatham, 1770]

Overbearing answers are given in regard to legality issues as to avoid lawsuits in sue-happy North America to cover the speaker’s tracks. However, it is evident for all to see through the smokescreen, if a person is truly alert to conditions that surround them. Aslak’s discussions with Mekkar back home made him very enlightened. That is of the premise that everyone has some sort of agenda and will take actions to promote it, if they are able.

The match itself was fairly non-descript in that the young Selects squad were vanquished by the Penguins club by a seven to four margin. Jean Pronovost and Rick Kehoe contributed to the scoring. Another player on the Pittsburgh side - Bob “Battleship” Kelly was given way too much room on the ice as a result of his pugilistic prowess. He wasn’t just a goon, but also had a good slap shot and knotted two goals in this match sending the Selects off with another loss. [Wikipedia;;]

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Mekkar was still young but he was growing up pretty fast on this tour. He felt that he was learning lessons that could not be acquired anywhere else and that he could draw upon in the future. Nevertheless, being an immature teen has its drawbacks. Mekkar still had a bad problem or Alf would refer to it as a flaw in his character. Alf mentioned that his older sibling was often bravely dumb or just flat out crazy and stupid. Alf could not decide which was the case. It is a fine line between acting brave and being stupid. This description fit Mekkar to a tee. This defect was shown when Mekkar would refuse to back down from a battle or a fight, even when it might be more prudent to do so. The hand injury just compounded the situation.

The arctic native needed to be wary of combining his problems as a result of the increasing issues of bodily damage including the head area. The blunt force trauma endured by Mekkar was a consequence of short term thinking and the amount of brawls he participated in. Not realizing it then, many of Mekkar’s future activities in life would be drastically affected.

It is well known that other collision sports athletes from other sports appreciate the skills needed to play ice hockey. Many would be surprised how many NFL football players go to watch pro hockey games today. Like other fans, a few go to watch the fights. Similar to the small number of car racing fans watching only to observe the accidents.

People forget how loaded with talent and toughness the Flyers were with Andre “Moose” Dupont, Bobby Clarke, Rick MacLeish, Bill Barber, Bernie Parent, and more. In one instance, one of the members of the Flyers was engaged in a round a fista-a-cuffs with Mekkar. Rapid Fire as Mekkar referred to his fellow combatant in contrast to the well known Hound Dog nickname by others. [Wikipedia] Two reasons why Mekkar called Bob Kelly by this term. One reason was the rapid firing punching hand at Mekkar’s noggin and the other was a slight reference to gangster Machine Gun Kelly. Mekkar’s normal tactic of using the boards as a brace behind him from falling backwards and hitting his head on the ice on this occasion backfired. Once they were squared off halfway from the face-off dot near the corner of the rink; Rapid Fire alternatively grabbed Mekkar’s head by its sides and repeatedly kept slamming it against the glass.

He was now in sort of a fog and Mekkar’s mind began to wander. As he was taking this throttling he strained to look up in The Spectrum and noticed different items up there on high. Mekkar also observed other aspects upward that many arena patrons might never notice. Then, the reality of Mekkar’s setting knocked him back into focus enough to gain his bearings. The Arctic Warrior realized that he must turn the tide against his aggressor somehow. He lifted his knee upward, while still balanced against those side boards, and thrusted it into the groin of his adversary. His opponent’s cup moved slightly to one side enough to inflict enough pain. Finally, the action of the head-to-glass pounding against Mekkar ceased. He was just thankful that he didn’t slump backwards during that maneuver and hit his skull directly on the ice. As Mekkar often quips, “Because ice always wins!”

During another part of the same exhibition matchup, one of the Philadelphia players’ took a nasty cheap shot against a Selects’ member. That same Flyer player had taken these actions before because that strategy had been employed beforehand against other visiting squads. It was used to create an environment of intimidation, even though the Flyers had plenty of skill and great goaltending to be successful with any style they wished. Mekkar was having none of this and chased after the infractor and sought revenge - ready to beat his butt.

That individual hurriedly fled behind tougher Philadelphia teammates instead of defending those actions. In true smack and run pest mode did not have to face the music in retaliation for their own despicable behavior on the ice. So, Mekkar went right back to taking up arms against one of the other Flyer goons. Mekkar despises that Flyer alum right up to the current day because they didn’t have the guts to physically defend their dirty actions on the ice that day.

Due to the nature of this match and the multiple concussions he suffered as a result, Mekkar remembered almost no details afterward. Fortunately, his younger brother Alf, his best friend Lasse, and other teammates filled him in later. They had to wait to plug in the details after his mind had cleared a bit from the head trauma. Mekkar essentially lost a week of his memory at the time. As was a common practice among his squad, the others’ around him filled in and completed the information of the time he was there in person, but absent otherwise. For example, that the Selects were beaten up and defeated 6-1. That is, until the young Mekkar gained his faculties back from all the whacks to his crown, ready to do it some more later on. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016


After matches against a few of the other league teams, the Selects were to face off against the big bad powerful Boston Bruins. The Bruins’ had a lineup that was specifically built and tailored to more effective in the friendly confines of the Boston Garden. Once again, another shorter dimensions ice rink. That way they could be on a player much quicker and close any distances more rapidly. This was especially true when Mekkar or his teammates had the puck on their stick. Their youthfulness and relative inexperience could be very much exposed in panic situations like that.

The Bruins were also a very scrappy squad through the decade and maximized the use of their smaller rink to physically intimidate most of the visiting reams. They had tough players such as Stan Jonathan, Mike Milbury, Terry O’Reilly, Brad Park, & others. However, it was not on the scale of The Broad Street Bully teams that were in their championship glory period down south. The pundits were quick to note there was a balance of toughness and talent in Boston which the Bruins had in abundance too!

Also, the Garden was constructed so long ago before modern building techniques were instituted. Humidity and arena temperatures could fluctuate greatly and affect the playing surface and game conditions in the facility. Mekkar was aware of this through his earlier research that issues more often arise during the warmer parts of the year. It should not be a factor now for this matchup, Mekkar thought. It turned out it wasn’t a problem involving the Selects during this game. The travelling squad had more pressing matters to deal with.

For the fans of the current day, the closest one can experience the old time styled buildings would be in a few minor pro leagues or top tier junior circuits. That is, if the old barns are still in existence before being torn down and replaced by more sterile places. Some of those aged rinks are tiny in comparison to the smaller than the normal sized Garden. Mekkar has seen some rinks where shots toward the opposition net from the offensive blue line were equivalent to being far inside the offensive zone. That is, more than anywhere else with standard hockey dimensions.

Mekkar had one source of reference as to the style of the Bruins. He remembered there is only one league in Europe, when facing clubs there, which was more like the North American linear and rougher style of hockey. This mode was contrary to other comparable elite ice hockey circuits around the world.

Thankfully for Mekkar, there were no line brawls in the Bruins – Selects match like Mekkar had previously watched on tape versus some of Boston’s main rivals. It was more common theme in the nineteen seventies games and every so often included fans also. Still, it was a physical, if non-descript affair. Mekkar was of the opinion that the Bruins didn’t have the desire nor motivation to really put the hurt on the visitor’s on this evening.

On the other hand, Boston has a bruising manner of hockey instilled in their fabric as a team and it would be hard for them to adopt any other way. Mekkar said, “The Bruins were compelled to take advantage of their home’s idiosyncrasies and they did so during this game.” Boston pushed the young Selects around most of the night and banged the road weary Selects 6-2. Only Mekkar, Lasse, and a couple of others on their squad were not affected by the Bruins system of breaking teams down.

Thursday, August 11, 2016


This was a game for Mekkar to test how much he had developed his hockey acumen and skill set. It was hard to judge without considering his injury against him. It was also a barometer of the work that still needed to be done for him to reach a reasonable professional level. The gap between the two degrees was still evident and obvious, even to Mekkar himself.

He had to show his stuff even though by this matchup in Buffalo the teenager had his playing minutes greatly reduced to hopefully further the healing of his badly broken hand. It had not gotten any better by this point due to the fact of his not taking time off from missing matches on this tour. Mekkar was too stubborn for that and only watching the matches as a scratched Black Ace would drastically increase his growing frustration levels. The damage incurred to his right paw and wrist also affected the roll over and snap of the wrist required for different and effective passes to teammates or shots on net. Since, Mekkar did not possess a howitzer slap shot from the point anyway.

The lower extended extremity meant the loss of power and control in all things related to handling of the hard rubber flying disc. This placed an adaptation of more emphasis on the top hand on his stick that can guide direction of passes to open fellow members of his team. Mekkar distinguished that due to the upper body issue it was still more important to put the biscuit in the basket or at least directly on net. That way to also create any rebound opportunities for his club to score more scrappy goals.

Not counting the matter regarding a few assumptions on behalf of the Selects coaching staff about their opponent this evening, the Buffalo Sabres. The viewpoint was despite the slightly small non-regular sized rink dimensions the Sabres wouldn’t play a goon it up style. The fear was that Buffalo might light-up the Selects on the scoreboard instead. The Sabres first forward line made them an offensive juggernaut led by the dynamic French Connection Line of Gilbert Perreault, Rene Robert, and Rick Martin. In addition, they had good goaltending behind them.

The matchup was expected to be similar to the Kings who the Selects already faced off against. However, it was predicted there would not be a repeat of the pugilistic affair like the one in Los Angeles. This would be highly beneficial for Mekkar in that he could take a break and hold back from having to punch any rival combatants in the noggin during
on-ice tangos.  Then, he recalled that is also what the Selects’ team staff said prior to the match in Southern California and look how that episode turned out.

Some of Mekkar’s buddies on the squad agreed with him on his cautious assessment regarding this match against the Sabres. Mekkar asked the question, “Could we fall for the club management intelligence again and trust in their judgment one more time regarding this?” Nevertheless, cultural factors and influences took precedence over their emotions and were applied to not challenge or ruffle the feathers of the Selects coaches. Mekkar was at the forefront of non-acceptance of the authoritative opinion regarding them team’s next opponent. It is because those in coaching positions have the power to ultimately mete out individual playing time and discipline toward each athlete.

There is always a fear of being known as a person with a reputation of rocking the (team) boat. This is seen as very detrimental in hockey, sports, and business circles and can affect one’s career especially at the higher levels. In many cases, the temperament does not match the individual athlete’s talent level and might not be deserved but just perceived. There is also the tendency, where Mekkar is originally from, to avoid most confrontational situations especially involving authority figures. Staying away from all the drama that usually goes with a prickly personality is the road taken by most people as a matter of self preservation.

Yet, Mekkar was pretty much unlike anyone else and didn’t care what others thought of him. Definitely those creatures in authoritative positions, even ones placed above him. His typical attitude did not follow the accepted norms of most civilized societies nor in his own native environment for that matter. This part of Mekkar’s psyche steadily grew stronger as he reached maturity as a fully developed adult.

Anyway, in spite of Mekkar’s insolence and a position of relative non-conformance he seemed to commonly make it through with minimal setbacks. That was not the reality for the Selects on this night as Buffalo’s French Connection top line ripped Mekkar’s team apart in an 8-3 Sabre victory.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


When Mekkar and his team arrived at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, Ontario, Canada they were initially directed down a pathway to the visitor’s dressing room. He noticed along this corridor were pictures of past star players of the homeside. There were also quite a few plaques and lists showing the different accomplishments and awards involving various Maple Leaf players throughout the years.

The skeptical youngster that he is saw this as a type of tactic to try to throw the Selects squad off of their game. Furthermore, it was just basically to get inside their heads prior to gametime. Mekkar concluded that this was just another intimidation endeavor but carried out in a psychological way. He was not affected by it because he could see through the tactic, but figured that some of the other Selects’ might be.

Anyway, Mekkar was excited to play against one of his heroes, Borje “The King” Salming. Despite realizing that due to both of their positions as defensemen and the natural flow of the match, they would come into direct contact with each other very little, if at all. Plus, Mekkar’s on ice minutes were sharply reduced due to injury.

Many of the Selects’ members observed the rabid parts of the crowd as they came onto the ice for the normal pre-game warmup ritual. It was a larger crowd than almost anywhere back home, but still overall less rowdy. Mekkar didn’t hear songs directed toward individual players like his home rink nor see large flags and banners waving in the stands. Here was tame in comparison but the sheer mass of people in the arena energized the home team with their pockets of exuberance.

Mekkar had trained himself long ago to accept any cheering or positive reinforcement and incorporate it as his own, no matter whom it was directed at, the source or location. This would always increase the confidence in Mekkar. Lasse and Alf deemed it as more like cockiness which Mekkar was not undersupplied. This mindset was beneficial for Mekkar’s on ice performances during the actual games. He said this attitude made him more successful.

The Leafs sported a starting lineup that could rival that very best clubs in the world. However, their troubles stemmed from bad management and in the lack of quality depth on the roster departments. Who Toronto sent over the boards to start the match was impressive. Lanny McDonald up front with Darryl Sittler centering the first line and Left Wing Dave “Tiger” Williams protecting everyone’s back. On the back line were Salming and Ian Turnbull with Mike Palmateer in goal. [Wikipedia] Formidable indeed thought Mekkar and his teammates. When the top Toronto unit was on the ice they totally controlled the pay and dictated the pace, which the Selects were unable to counteract.

As the Selects’ coaching staff behind the bench accepted this and desired their team to push the tempo when the other Leaf lines were on the ice to balance it all out. The game did not accurately reflect the dominance in the box score in a 4-2 Maple Leaf win. Mekkar felt fortunate to avoid a blowout. The Selects only took one minor penalty and negated that opportunity by keeping Toronto from converting their powerplay. Guess who took the penalty? Yes, it was Mekkar! The netminding for the visitors on this night was excellent and helped to keep the match from being a runaway for the hosts. As a result, the Far North Native stated, “A hot goalie can make up for the rest of the team’s mistakes.” Nevertheless, the cynical Mekkar thought that the Leafs were sort of toying with his travelling team.

The best part of the night for Mekkar was the post game brief chat with Salming, who is one of his hockey role models. He did try to pick to pick the classy Borje’s mind a bit. However, there was just so much information and experience there. Salming’s vast resource knowledge was overwhelming to the young arctic teen and it was hard to grasp, even a small bit of it.

Sunday, August 7, 2016


The previous match versus Los Angeles was much different than Mekkar anticipated beforehand. The Selects also didn’t expect to encounter a rough and tumble style strategy game by the Kings and their fans especially in regard to exhibition matchups. Mekkar was caught unaware also because his pre-tour research indicated a different performance and alternative match. One that would be focused on skill and scoring prowess similar to the earlier game on this jaunt against the Houston Aeros. The attitude that was put out there was contrary however with an aire of welcome to the National Hockey League brand of hockey. Not only that, it seemed to Mekkar that the Kings wanted to send a message to the Selects squad and teach them a lesson at the same time. The vibe given off by the established franchised was we have the very best hockey players in the world here and we will display it to you. The smugness and arrogance continued throughout that match.

Mekkar was perceptive enough to see through the smokescreen. He knew that other locations and hockey circuits around the globe also had top notch athletes. This was evidenced by the results of the well known 1972 Summit Series between Canada and the USSR. Not to forget the matchups between the Canadian representatives and other European national squads during that period. Added to the fact the increase and incorporation of non-Canadian draft selections in the past few years. One who could see the effects and dotting of team rosters with players from many nations currently in professional leagues of North America.

Since Mekkar and the Selects were wrong about the first game in this leg of the journey they were not sure what to expect now. Yet, Mekkar was now prepared and ready for almost anything to occur. His demeanor was if you to mix it up then let’s tango knucklehead or a more slick match if it were to manifest itself. He didn’t avoid the rough stuff but actually embraced the violence as just part of the game.

He even stated to a couple of his teammates on the bus to the arena for this portion of the journey, “If they want to goon it up, I will be rearing to go.” Mekkar was not concerned about further damage to his already injured body parts.

The Arctic Native saw it as a tale of the biggest bear in the forest. You should let that bear hibernate and not provoke or disturb him. But, if you want to intentionally make the mistake and wake the bear to tick him off, then you get to experience the consequences of your actions. Mekkar thought of himself as the big bear. Of course, it would be a joke if he was referring to only to his physically statue. However, Mekkar also includes other factors of his being in the equation such as his drive, determination, and heart. In some aspects he was nuts on ice, but he believed this state of mind helped to protect him. Mekkar is of the presumption that he is like no one else and one of a kind. Plus, he is always willing to hammer home that point to somebody’s dome if necessary, if only to get their attention.

As per his custom when Mekkar’s team entered the arena he went straight away to survey it. He had read previous stories about this place. Remember, Mekkar was still a curious youngster like many kids. He searched around for the location of where the famous arena organ was. Mekkar eventually found it and met the organist there in this area. They conversed about subjects about the history of the building and how the Chicago Stadium organ was built into the facility. {Wikipedia]

Mekkar asked the guy there if he could teach the teenager any easy songs to play on the organ. The maestro did oblige and let Mekkar try to play them back on his own. Was startled when he held one of the bass keys down longer than normal. It seemed that the whole building shook. “Wow, what a feeling!” Mekkar exclaimed later. He learned two short ditties during that brief time, even though he was unfamiliar with piano or organ keys. Now Mekkar can play a version of Charge and another short hockey tune to get the crowd going and finishes with a deep bass sound at the end.

Sirga’s oldest offspring stated back to the organist there, “What a home advantage you have. Especially when the opposing team has to carry and control the puck during the game.” The virtuoso only responded with a sly grin, but no words. With that Mekkar had to rejoin his team in the visitor’s lockerroom.

Later on, he pondered about having to stickhandle and corral the rubber disc when skating up ice with it. He asked himself if the monster organ would be going full tilt or not. Potential issues were raised by Mekkar in his consciousness. He recognized that he might have to look down to make sure the frozen biscuit stayed on his stick due to the vibrational effects. Mekkar found out in the pre-game warm-ups for real that he was indeed correct in his analysis.

All hockey players are taught ever since they are young and just starting out in the sport to always keep your head up. This is especially the case while skating through the neutral zone. Otherwise, you could risk getting walloped hard and also knocked out. Even pro players make this grave error occasionally and pay dearly for it. Being on the receiving end of open ice hits have resulted in quite a few career ending injuries.

This match against the Chicago Blackhawks was a pretty clean affair unlike the last one. It was surprising because the home side didn’t feel they needed to take advantage of the smaller than the normal ice size standard for the North American continent. {Wikipedia] Unfortunately for Mekkar and the Selects the result was the same, a defeat by a 5-2 margin.

The one thing that stood out for Mekkar was being the ice and playing at the same time as the great Bobby Orr. Although, it wasn’t the same Orr as Mekkar remembered from watching the films and tapes back home. Due to the many knee injuries and other maladies Orr was almost at the completion of his hockey career. Mekkar noticed that Bobby’s skating ability was clearly not the same as before and that Orr’s playing days would soon be coming to an end. This, in fact, transpired. However, a fifty percent Bobby Orr is still better than eighty percent of the players that have ever suited up, even if not up to his own lofty standards. [Wikipedia; The Hockey News; and various other media sources]

Friday, August 5, 2016


SAN DIEGO (PART M) in Aug., 2016.

After the portion of the schedule with the matches against the World Hockey Association (WHA) clubs was completed the attention turned forward. Now it was onto to the games against the mighty National Hockey League (NHL) squads. The first trip of this leg led the Selects to the Los Angeles Forum. It was an auspicious beginning too! Mekkar thought it could be a sign of things to come. However, The Native from the North still had this image in his mind about West Coast fans. It was formed from listening to Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, The Ventures, etc. songs. Those tunes, in reality, only referred to one segment of the local population – that is, Beachgoers & Surfers.

The Kings had those regal purple and gold clad jerseys and a flair for offense. It was not a coincidence the team shared the same color scheme with the Los Angeles Lakers since the same owner possessed both clubs along with their home arena.

Los Angeles was not considered by pundits to be strong on defense but it was balanced out by having the great Rogie Vachon in net behind them. The Kings also had a couple of tough guys also. The notorious and once former Broad Street Bully Dave “The Hammer” Schultz had been acquired for his muscle from Philadelphia. Schultz would make his mark on Mekkar in the matchup.

There was not a large concern of the Selects by the home team because they felt they could handle this travelling barn-storming squad quite easily. That turned out to be the case in the matchup that night too!

However, everything changed during an incident in the final period in which unidentified fans began throwing items at the visitors on the ice as well as at their Selects’ bench area. The Arctic Warrior commented, “I guess the normally laid back fans here resemble the East Coast fans that I saw on film.” When Mekkar received a thump on the noggin by an unidentified flying object, he led the charge over the shorter glass seeking revenge against the perpetrator.

As he was dishing out his own brand of vigilante retaliation in the stands, Mekkar planted the middle of a guy’s forehand with a forceful move. He had taken one of his fighting sticks with him and was using it like a medieval lance. He proceeded to knock out cold a person charging at him.

Then, a group of patrons responded with a rush and pushed him back down the stairs. Mekkar rolled the short distance all the way back to the front row and landed next to the boards. Since Mekkar was advancing up the stairs in his skates in the first place, his balance was tenuous at best.

At the very least, Mekkar was glad that he wasn’t a teammate who wanted to go into the stands after him to retaliate against the oncoming mob. That Selects’ player never got to join the melee before being smashed over the head with a mysterious item that was never located. That hockey player was pretty much incapacitated after that with a serious head wound.

There were supporters that had battled opposing visiting team players on occasion in the past. This behavior was not an uncommon theme for the era unlike the present time. Still Mekkar was rewarded by receiving a game misconduct penalty and was tossed from the match at that point.

That was just one incident among many in a penalty filled affair in which the Kings prevailed six to three. Mekkar was beginning to believe that this was going to be a regular trend on the tour schedule. What influenced his opinion in this regard was the Selects were previously exposed to these on ice antics in Birmingham and Saint Paul. Now it was bleeding out into the stands now. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


SAN DIEGO (PART L) in Aug,, 2016.

Mekkar saw a brochure in a rack located in the hotel lobby that interested him. He doesn’t remember the title exactly, so he called it Beach On The Border. After some cajoling Alf, Lasse, Johan, and Stig decided to accompany him on this trip.

Their group bribed one of the hotel employees who also drove the transport vans for picking up and dropping guest staying there. The band of five also paid him for his time and asked him if he was familiar with the area they wanted to travel to. The employee said he used to live in the area and still has friends living nearby.

They first stopped off, at a hardware store, to pickup some supplies for their little project. The crew searched and purchased tools such as a couple of shovels, buckets, trash cans, and some pieces of lumber. Also, they stopped somewhere else and got some alcohol. Mekkar told the hotel staff member that this equipment they had purchased would be donated to the hotel landscaping staff after this journey.

Then, the small group set off down the highway until they reached one of the last exits before reaching the border and headed west to the water. The driver warned them that the water might be polluted so be careful.

He also told them a small amount about the Tijuana Bullring by the Sea nearby. When the guys got out and removed the tools, they asked him to pick them up in about three hours. The van took off and the crew went down to the deserted beach with the overcast skies above them.

The group got to work building a sand castle. While at the same time, hoping no one would notice them. Since Mekkar’s one hand was damaged his job was to pat down the dirt in place with his good paw. The task happened quickly with all five putting forth some effort.

They build one tiny room with dirt support that even a six foot tall individual could stand straight up in with touching the ceiling or the inside walls. It was a tight squeeze with little clearance room inside for Alf or Mekkar, as Lasse was much too large or tall.

Since there were not the problems with the border in those days, Mekkar went around the poles on the beach and just took a couple steps onto the Mexico side. The fence was not as large, extensive, restricted, or fortified as it is today.

Mekkar twirled around in a circle a couple of times and yelled out to others, “I am in Mexico!” It sort of looked like a shortened version of the hokey-pokey. A couple of strides later and he was back on the United States side. They all noticed the bullring since it stands out from anything else there. Their reward for building the sand structure was they all got drunk together on the peaceful beach. By the time the van came back they were tired from their physical exertion and well lubricated as well.

Later on unaware, the gang of five found out that it was illegal to dig on the beach, cross the border, and consume alcohol in a state park without permission. Fortunately for them no authorities showed up to reprimand them or give them a fine to pay. From there, Mekkar and his buddies embarked on other adventures throughout the area until their next match.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


SAN DIEGO (PART K) in July, 2016.

A local baseball team owner (Ray Kroc of McDonald’s fame) had purchased the San Diego WHA franchise and assigned his management team to run it. The problem was they had no experience with hockey and the Mariners were not considered a priority endeavor like the Major League Baseball club. Thus, they neglected the squad. Ownership lacked patience to hold onto a good team which only needed a few more pieces to truly become a championship contender. The Mariners made the playoffs all of the three years during their run in San Diego. If the group would have kept the club a couple of years longer, this team probably would have been absorbed into the NHL due to having a big name owner. The Los Angeles Kings would have had a California rival instead of waiting for the expansion San Jose Sharks in 1991. Unfortunately, Kings owner Jack Kent Cooke’s greedy desire to also have the San Diego market to himself helped doom the Mariners as well. Plus, Kroc’s new administrators lacked vision and as a result sold the squad after one year and the Mariners folded into obscurity. [; Wikipedia]

It seemed to Mekkar that he could do no right in this game. Lacroix knotted two goals and two assists while Mekkar either failed to do an adequate job covering him or rode the pine in the sin bin. San Diego spanked the Selects by a score of seven to two. It could have been much worse. The home side drew well that evening versus the Selects, much higher than normal for that season. Mekkar didn’t think the Selects were of the caliber like a national squad to pull in a lot of fans, so he assumed it some sort of promotional giveaway night.

Mekkar had read one of the local newspapers prior to the match regarding ownership unhappiness about the usual low fan attendance. There was a minimum level of paying patrons expected to be drawn on a nightly game basis and expectations were not being met. Mekkar summarized from the articles and other local sources he read that hardcore fans of the previous team that the Mariners replaced never accepted the WHA club. The Western Hockey League San Diego Gulls had been established for awhile and developed a rabid fan base but the team had to fold with the Mariners’ arrival in town and was not happy regarding the demise of the minor league operation. Mekkar was aware from back home that when a fair amount of the most knowledgeable hockey attendees in a city stay away from the new squad’s matches that negatively impacts the long term viability of any new franchise. [Wikipedia; WHA San Diego Mariner Historical Site – sdmariners.htm; WHL San Diego Gulls Historical Site – sdhulls.htm;; Playing Hockey The World Over … wha.htm;; The San Diego Union Tribune; Other Local Media Sources]  

As Mekkar searched for perspective on his opponent during his pre-game ritual process, he remembered a statement that Sirga made that became ingrained into his and younger brother Alf’s heads. A concept that reading makes a person smarter. The subject was brought up so often by their mama, they it became a habit for all of her children to just get her off their back.

Since the Selects players have a few days off until the next matchup they decided to do some sightseeing of the area. During the next day after the game it dawned on Mekkar that he wanted to eventually play for the Mariners club and live in San Diego too! However, it was not to be due to future events making that dream impossible. Unless, San Diego received another franchise …

The city was also an option for Mekkar and it was his choice of where he wanted to go for his high school exchange program location. The arctic boy chose San Diego because he liked it. Questions of how would he survive during the summers, which are much warmer than back home. That could be an issue, but he did not consider it as a factor at the time. His views like most teenagers, are very short-term and limited whether they admit it or not. Mekkar wasn’t very enthused about his mama’s preference for him to do his overseas studies in the United Kingdom. She wanted him to be closer to the family and not almost half way around the globe. Sirga wanted her oldest son to go to a place where he would improve his English speaking and language skills.

She had a vision into the future about the state of affairs in regard to their home nation’s economic status and it was with dread when she mentioned it to Mekkar. Well, Mekkar thought that he could cover all the bases and fulfill her language requirements for him here in this location. It’s not like he had not been to this city before. He journeyed with his papa when he was younger. Since Far North Native’s choice and decision was against his mama’s wishes, Mekkar tried to get his papa involved to help convince Sirga. The thought was to have Henrik arrange all of the details. Mainly, because he was so experienced at those aspects as shown on other previous occasions.

When Sirga heard about Mekkar’s selection, she knew that this situation would be a showdown and it wouldn’t be easy to turn the older son back to her way. Primarily, because Mekkar is just like her, stubborn as a mule. The whole idea behind Sirga’s determination in this matter was to help him grow up and adapt to the modern world lifestyle. So, he could make a successful transition like she did and expand his mind by relying on himself more. Added to that, was growing into full adulthood by weaning him off from the family safety net support system, if necessary. This planning was all predicated on her premonition based on future events. Calamities such as a down-swing or eventual collapse of the national economy were taken into account. Lack of opportunities for her son’s skill set in relation to the region employment market was another foreseen factor. This prediction came to pass by nineteen eighty eight. However, by that time, Mekkar was already gone due to other catastrophic circumstances that affected him.