Tuesday, August 2, 2016

WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR - SAN DIEGO (L)

Continued from WORLD WIDE HOCKEY TOUR –
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. [whahockey.com/mariners.html; 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; whahockey.com; Playing Hockey The World Over … wha.htm; billsportsmaps.com; 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.