Jocks the world over flock to their clinic, the River City Shrink Wrap, to have their heads examined. They don’t always have the right answer, but if loving the Winnipeg Jets and Blue Bombers is wrong they don’t want to be right.
(Today: Winnipeg Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec is on the couch.)
DR. PUCK: “Welcome, Ondrej. Good to see you again, dude. How long has it been since you were last on the couch? Two, three, four, five months?”
PAVELEC: “Fourteen days.”
DR. PUCK: “Seriously, dude? You were here just 14 days ago?”
PAVELEC: “You don’t remember? It was the morning after our game in St. Louis. Hutch was a sieve that night…let in four goals on seven shots. Coach PoMo put me in goal and I shut the door on those Blues. Made 18 straight saves. The boys rally and we tie that game, 4-4. Then some no-name defenceman takes a shot from centre ice and I don’t see the puck. Lose it in the crowd. It goes in. With 63 seconds left in the game. We lose, 5-4. Entire city of Winnipeg chants, ‘Ondrej sucks! Ondrej sucks!’ They call me an overpaid lush. They talk about my DUI. They want to send me to some place called The Rock. They say Pavi is the worst goaltender since Pokey Bandit.”
DR. PUCK: “That would be Pokey and the Bandit, dude. Pokey and the Bandit. They were two different goaltenders. Both lousy.”
PAVELEC: “Oh. Good to know. Anyway, fans want to trade Pavi for a bag of pucks after that St. Louis game. You don’t remember any of this?”
DR. PUCK: “Yes, yes…of course I do. I seem to recall you saying something about how envious you were of Andrew (The Hamburglar) Hammond of the Senators, because fans in Ottawa toss him McDonald’s hamburgers whenever he wins a game but fans in Winnipeg have been throwing empty shot glasses and mickey bottles at you most of this National Hockey League season.”
PAVELEC: “Ya, and Coach PoMo threw me under the bus.”
DR. PUCK: “That isn’t entirely true, dude. True, coach Paul Maurice was rather abrupt in his post-game remarks and didn’t appear to have your back that night, but if the dude truly wanted to hurl you under the bus he wouldn’t have called your number the last five games. Which, I hasten to add, have gone very well for the team and yourself. You’ve won ’em all, dude, you’ve only surrendered five goals, you shut out Ovie and the Washington Capitals, you were named the NHL premiere etoile of the week, and any fool can see you’re numero uno in the blue paint for the Jets again.”
PAVELEC: “Ya, entire city of Winnipeg now chants, ‘Pa-vi! Pa-vi! Pa-vi!’ like I’m big hero. Instead of telling me that I need to go on the wagon, they leap on to my bandwagon.”
DR. PUCK: “Which begs the question, with everything going so well, why did you book time on my couch, dude?”
PAVELEC: “Because I know these people of Winnipeg. I’m feeling the love right now, but the minute I soil the sheets it will be back to ‘Ondrej sucks! Ondrej sucks!’ No more ‘Pa-vi! Pa-vi! We love you Pa-vi!’ Just ‘Ondrej sucks! Ondrej sucks!’ I don’t want them to love Pavi just in thick times. I want them to love Pavi during thin times, too. Like they love Dancing Gabe.”
DR. PUCK: “Yo! Dude! You could feed the homeless, personally fill every pothole on our downtown streets, sand bag every river bank in the city this spring and invent an environment-friendly method of mosquito fogging, but doubters are going to doubt and haters are going to hate.
You’re a goaltender in a Canadian market. That’s the way hockey fans roll in the Great White North. You’re never going to feel the love 365/24/7…unless your name is Carey Price. And even Price experienced some rough patches in Montreal. It wasn’t so many years ago that a great number of Canadiens fans wanted the Habs to keep Jaroslav Halak and deep-six Price. Now Carey Price is a national treasure after winning a gold medal at the Olympics and where would the Habs be today without him? Hard to believe fans wanted shed of him, isn’t it?”
PAVELEC: “So it’s all starting goalies in Canada, not just Pavi in the Peg?”
DR. PUCK: “That’s right, dude. Fans in Vancouver turned on Roberto Luongo faster than you can say ‘Harold Snepsts is a dork.’ Cory Schneider became flavor of the month. And how long did that last? Ask Devan Dubnyk how much he misses Edmonton. It comes with the territory and you’re in good company. So don’t take it personal if fans in Winnipeg don’t throw you McDonald’s burgers. Right now you’re more popular than Dancing Gabe, so wear your McHappy face.”
PAVELEC: “That was a pathetic pun, Doc Puck, but Pavi feels much better now.”
DR. PUCK: “That’s wonderful, Ondrej. Now if you’ll excuse me, dude, my waiting room is more crowded than the men’s washroom during halftime at the Super Bowl…Joe Thornton and Doug Wilson are here for couples counseling, P.K. Subban is here to deal with his dive-oholic addiction, Don Cherry still can’t cope with the reality that there’s no more room in hockey for Colton Orr’s knuckles, and Phil Kessel and the Maple Leafs are…oh, please, don’t get me started on Kessel and the Leafs.”
Patti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.