So the Kings do a promotion where they let two amateur teams play on Staples Center ice after the game. The idea is to let a few guys play on the ice where the pros play. In theory, it's a nice idea that lets hockey players feel that same rush the Kings do when they step onto hallowed ice. In reality? You know that scene in Caddyshack where they have Caddy Day at the pool? It's kind of like that.
For you see, they sell the two teams discounted tickets to the game before (in this case it was the Kings-Ducks game on Saturday night) and let them get their blood up. Then they let them drink before; they say you can't be intoxicated, but I mean, c'mon. Then, they get two league referees to ref the game, referees that have also been drinking and are tired and don't really care too much about the game. The result? Armageddon on ice.
My buddy Matt played at Staples on Saturday night after the game and I went and watched because it was after the Kings game and hey, it's fun watching shitty hockey players fumble around like retards. He was asked to play for this team that isn't very good because they wanted to not get embarrassed. The problem with Matt is that he's good at hockey but he's not good at the hockey that'll win you rec games. Like, there are some players you can throw into a lesser league and they'll destroy it; think Randy Jones. Then there are players that'll always look OK but they can play OK in any league; think Matt Greene. Matt's more Matt Greene, no matter how fervently he'll deny it. The only thing he's really good at is being physical. This is not a good trait when you're playing crappy players because they may not be able to skate but they can still hurt you.
So anyway, I stayed after to watch him play and within the first 5 minutes Matt made a guy look stupid. He and the guy were both going for the puck and they reached it about the same time, but Matt kind of shrugged and the other player flew 5 feet. I don't know what he did, but it was effective. You could tell then that things were only going to get worse. The problem with crappy players, and I think I've mentioned this before, is that they don't understand the difference between hard contact and dirty play. Throwing an elbow while you're digging for the puck is hard contact. Throwing an elbow at an unsuspecting player? Dirty play. When they play a guy who's good and that guy gives hard contact, the shitty player will usually respond with dirty play. It results in mayhem.
Play continued uneventfully, with players chopping up the ice and flopping around like retards until a few minutes left in the first when an opposing player hacked Matt's goalie after the whistle. Matt knocked him down and then "accidentally" (his word) shoved the guy's face into the ice. (That was probably dirty.) The guy on the ice swung his stick up and caught Matt right above the eye, leading Matt to fall to the ice clutching his face. Some asshole yelled, "Get up, pussy!"* and when Matt eventually did get up there was a trail of blood in his wake. The stick had opened up a gash along his eyebrow that looked vaguely like a goat's vagina, to use Joe Rogan's words. It was gnarly. I laughed.
*Me. Me am the asshole. To be fair, I thought he was faking. Plus, you know, drinking.
The refs kicked the offending player out of the game for high sticking but didn't actually charge him a penalty, which I didn't know you could do. Matt had a towel over his eye but when he realized his team didn't get a power play he leaned over the ice and squeezed blood from his cut onto the ice. I'm going to stop for a bit to let that sink in. OK, ready to continue? Good.
Anyway, the game devolved from there. Matt still played, staunching the bleeding with a towel, skating his shift, and then coming back to the bench when his eye starting getting blood in it. Hey, it's hockey. The game didn't actually end at the end of the third; they had to stop the game when Matt's team scored on a rebound and then the other team started a brawl. One guy actually threw a referee onto the ground and I'm pretty sure he punched him in the face. I don't know, I didn't see a replay but I think it happened. The game was called off (I still don't know who won) and everyone went home. ...Well, not me. Matt had to go to the emergency room to get his eye stitched up so I got to watch Ghosts of Girlfriends Past* in the waiting room at 1:30 in the morning. It ended up being 20 stitches; 5 internal and 15 external.
*The movie was... surprisingly good. I'm not going to lie, Matthew McConaughey is pretty charming and throwing in Breckin Meyer too! My stars!
Lessons we can take from the night? One, obviously, is that you should wear a shield or cage when you're playing with people who don't know how to control their sticks. Two, don't let amateur players get liquored up and then play in front of the largest audience they've ever played in front of without security and maybe even armed guards. Three, stick around and watch one of these games if you can because they are hilarious and violent.
Oh, and four, it's really funny when your roommate gets stitches above his eye because you can keep saying, "Why are you winking at me?" You'd think it'd get old after a while, but... no.