Hockey and romance

Tamara Clarke and I have found a funny little niche with writing romances that involve hockey. Most involve a hockey player as the male protagonist, although my first story, Ghosts of the Forum, did not. People enjoy them, and for that we’re glad. In fact, I’ve thought Gary Bettman, the NHL Commissioner, should give us some sort of ambassadorial bonus. We have had lots of people tell us how they now love hockey, or that they used to like it and now do again, or that they never thought they would. I have to admit some of my favorite comments are from readers in the UK, or Australia, who say they have only the vaguest idea of what ice hockey is and how it’s played, but they love it in the stories.

So how did it all start, one might ask?

Tamara Clarke, AKA MugsyB, wrote a story called The Ice, the Game, the Touch, and challenged readers to “identify” the hockey player that had inspired it. It took me a minute, but I got it, and emailed her, and we’ve been fast e-friends ever since. 🙂 Being a Caps’  fan, I said next she needed to do a story about her main character’s rival, and not too long after that, she obliged with The Ice in Russia. Then, she said, it was my turn.

As you may recall, a bit of competitive spirit is what got me writing in the first place, so naturally I had to try my hand. My first effort was Nothing Gets Through, in which I made a quick reference to one of Mugsy’s characters (can you find it?). That launched a fun little game of “tag” within our stories, tapping characters for reference until I suppose I took it to new heights in Numbers Game, when I borrowed many of Mugsy’s characters to fill out the friendship circle for my own.

Most comments have been very positive (and appreciated for it). A few have said, what is it with the hockey players? Well, here it is, for me.

Of all the major sports, I “know” hockey the best. I understand the rules, and I read the most about it, so I’m more familiar with what might happen off ice. And of course, last years’ 24/7 on HBO showed everyone a lot more than they’d see during a game broadcast. Many people have asked both Tamara and myself if we’d every write about other athletes; after some consideration, I decided if I did, it’d have to be baseball, but that’s another story.

Way back in 1986, my younger brother had the opportunity via Fox Sports to meet John LeClair, who at the time played for the Philadelphia Flyers. This was a big deal — I took off work in Virginia and drove up to New Jersey, and my Dad took off as well. We couldn’t have had a better time, and although we didn’t get to meet the players, my brother did, and they were all terrific when we later saw the footage. My dad asked the Flyers’ staff member who was taking care of us — who also worked for the 76ers — which group was easier to deal with, basketball players or hockey players. The staffer said hockey players, hands down; they were far more amenable to spur-of-the-moment requests for interviews, for example, and just all around easier to work with. (Sean Avery is a BIG exception. Bleah.)

I’ve digressed; my apologies. But I think you might be able to see how a hockey player translates into a reasonable romantic hero. A guy who is in good physical shape by necessity (no need make sure you mention gym visits), hence probably good-looking, and most likely not too full of himself (hockey is still a second-tier sport in the U.S., let’s be honest). Personalities can range from outgoing, to introverted, to whatever any other person is like. And as for the sex — did I mention the good physical shape?

Although I have no experience with it myself, I figure that the frequent travel schedule for any athlete has to make pursuing and maintaining a relationship difficult, so that’s fodder for a good romance. Or even just a good story; every story needs conflict. Not to mention other team duties/demands such as charitable events, autograph signings, etc. Athletes may “play a game” for a living, but that game is a lot of work, on and off the ice or field.

The hockey stories are fun, and I intend to keep writing them when ideas present themselves, so I hope you enjoy them. As long as Ms. Clarke is game (haha), I’ll keep playing tag. I have one in progress right now, in fact. And soon — real hockey! Season starts Oct 6!


6 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Miriam on September 15, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    really enjoyed reading this entry in your blog … I’m one of those people who never watched a hockey game before finding the stories by you and MugsyB on Lit. Then last spring I had the opportunity to attend a live hockey game … much easier to follow than on TV … it’s such a fast game I can never follow the puck on TV. 😦

    I’ll be watching for your next story on Lit. Thanks for sharing your talents.


  2. I don’t understand hockey well, but my husband and son are major hockey fans. I do watch the Stanley Cup finals. I know some people do believe hockey is the purest sport around.


    • I’m not sure I believe hockey is the purest sport — not to by cynical, but all sports are business at the pro level — but I do think that at least in the US, given that hockey is not on the level of football, baseball or basketball, it keeps the players a bit more humble. Not all, but many.


  3. Posted by Lady Falcon on October 20, 2011 at 11:56 pm

    I am absolutely a new convert to hockey. I grew up on football. I’ve been to one live game St; Louis at Tampa Bay. A guy I was dating from St.Louis took me and it was interesting but nothing was explained so I just enjoyed his enjoyment. 🙂

    Then along come these really cool (hah! ice and cool…anyway), hockey stories! First off I love athletes having been one growing up I am in awe of the dedication and determination it takes to become a professional, no matter the sport. So, I watched a couple games from the Stanley Cup Finals earlier this year. Pretty cool. You and Tamara explained things when I had a question. Tonight I caught part of the Capitals and Flyers game….oooo, the Caps! I’m in love solely because of the stories. I think I caught a glimpse of the real Obie. lol I got all excited sitting on the couch watching.

    When I flipped the channel over to the hockey from “Wizards of Waverly Place” my 9yr old said “Aww come on…hockey?! (Remember, we live in the South and don’t see snow very often) So, I start explaining that the team playing is in a lot of the stories on the internet I read. Then the magic question…so the orange team has to get the black thing into the white team’s net and the white team has to get it into the orange’s net? giggling….yes! Then I tried to explain power plays and short handed goals because those are the only two things I think I understand…lol

    I tell her we are rooting for the white team because they are in the stories. 🙂 When I see her start moving her body and flinching when the puck changes hands….hah, got her caught now….I ask her if she would want to see a game live…be in the audience. The games in Charleston are at the same place we went to that night we went to the Army thing (“Spirit of America” put on by the U.S. Army-really cool live historical account of the the armed forces in America-go see it if you get a chance). Her eyes perk up…can you imagine that whole floor covered in ice? Now she really gets interested. Cheap shot on my part…I know. Bad Mommy. 🙂

    Now, I am planning a trip down to Charleston to watch the Stingrays (not the big boys but it will have to do) play on one of there Sunday games with the neighbors who are from Wisconsin and can actually teach me about hockey. Woo Hoo!


    • And once more I saw Gary Bettman and the NHL owe us a commission. 😉 So glad you’re enjoying both the real games and the stories. And yes “Obie” is hard to miss — and he got two goals last night! I don’t know what happened to the Flyers, but the Caps sure had their game together. Sounds like you’ve been explaining very well, and if you ever have any other questions, just let me know. 🙂


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