it’s the ebb and flow

After walking off of the ice following their 5-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators, the Pittsburgh Penguins roster is transported, in the tunnel, through a freak wormhole, to the End of the Universe.
Which, despite popular belief, takes place in a wheat field at dusk.
The sky is burning and the sound around them sounds like a distant screaming. Thousands and thousands of people screaming.

Brooks Orpik, not one to accept any shenanigans, takes the lead on the investigation of their surroundings. He advises them to take their skates off since they won’t be much good for walking around in the wheat. The wheat is young and is hardly knee-high. Everyone keeps looking around, trying to find the source of the distant screaming, but there is nothing around them. Perhaps a forest in the distance. Just a dark smear on the horizon. There is a sudden clanging of metal from above. Brooks looks upwards.

A voice speaks from the sky, a friendly voice with a Canadian accent that speaks enthusiastically, as if on a promotional ad for Hockey Night in Canada, or about to deliver a rousing speech in the locker room.

“None of it matters, boys,” the voice says, and clears its throat casually.
“What do you mean it doesn’t matter?” James Neal says. He is incredulous. He is thinking about how everything matters in preserving a world that includes things like toaster strudel and flannel pajama pants and big-time snipejobs from just above the circles.
“I mean none of it matters RIGHT NOW. You guys have just got to get it together,” the voice says, as if over western omelettes at Eat’n Park on Murray Avenue at 2AM.
“I together,” Evgeni says, darkly. “We together.” His face is clouded in determination, but everyone around him shuffles uneasily.

“Are you God?” Joe Vitale asks after a long silence. “Can we make prayers or wishes to you or something?” interrupts Eric Tangradi, thinking that knowing the voice’s intentions is more important than it being God.
“There is no God at the end of Time, eh, boys?” chuckles the voice. “No, you can’t make wishes either, Big Dog.” The voice is especially crisp now, like a movie trailer in HD. Marc-André Fleury expects to see credits flashing in the air around them. But he keeps this to himself and wonders about whether they’ll be able to go back soon and if there will be postgame juice boxes.

“No, you see,” the voice says, “I don’t make the rules.” This statement is accompanied by red flashes in the sky. Dark clouds roll in. Tyler Kennedy begins to cry.
“Who does make the fucking rules, then?” says Craig Adams. He doesn’t have time for this shit.
“Ha! I can’t tell you that. But, well, let’s get down to business, boys.”

Objects begin to fall from the sky. Not too many all at once as to become terribly dangerous, and they fall lightly to the ground, as if dropped from the height of a coffee table rather than miles up into the unknown, burning heavens. There are fractured bones. Pieces of what looks like fresh muscle. The protective device fastened over skates when a player’s foot is injured. Hockey helmets. Peanut butter sandwiches. Bottles of protein shake. Stick tape. Waffles. Keys to BMWs.

“You live in this world, you know,” the voice says as Chris Kunitz is conked on the head with a small kitten, which lands on the ground unscathed. Brent Johnson picks it up and holds it in his arms. “What are you even talking about?” Brent yells. “This is a fucking kitten.”

“Just because you lost a few games doesn’t mean that all of this is going to go away. Just because it feels like the end of the world to some people doesn’t mean it is,” the voice says.
“That doesn’t explain the kitten,” says Matt Niskanen.
“Stop it with the kitten, guys,” the voice says, slightly higher-pitched now, clearly becoming frustrated. “I can’t change anything, I can only show you. What would you want? Would you want to get free punches at the officials from the game, at Matt Carkner’s face? Would you want to be able to pretend you won after that lousy effort? Would you want me to magically make Sid better, to get all the doubts and funk out of Flower and Johnny’s heads with a divine blessing?”
“Maybe we would,” says Marc-André softly.
“Bullshit, son,” says the voice, without losing it’s jocular manner. He sounds like the drunk uncle at a family party. “You’d want to earn it yourselves, wouldn’t you?”

A massive black hole opens in the sky. They begin to feel themselves being sucked up into it.

“You can’t blame anybody but yourselves,” the voice says. “And even if it is your fault, whatever. Shit might get real bad.” It coughs. “But you can get through it.”

And so the end of Time came to pass, and the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t die.


caps tomorrow lol
go pens


About Zoë

from Fayette County, living in Boston, chronically fussy. Writing about the Penguins, the CWHL/women's hockey, and hockey/sports media criticism.