Sunday, May 24, 2009

Staal [A Jordan Staal Story] Sixty-One

Camp started winding down and the players who were left grew more nervous with each passing day. The Devils fell to the Guins again as Miriya coached her team to their second win. The third and fourth games were to be played against someone Miriya knew and loved. They would be playing her second favorite NHL team lead by Captain Eric Staal, the Carolina Hurricanes.

Before the first game against the Canes Miriya stood in the locker room for her pre-game speech. “I have to say that you boys are doing amazing. I want you to go out there and have fun, but play smart. Don’t take any stupid penalties and most of all, watch out for Staal. I’ve watched him play many times and know his style. Someone stay tight on him at all times. Let’s get out there and kick some Canes ass!”

The boys hit the ice and when they returned to the locker room after the final buzzer they held their heads high. Miriya had coached her boys to another win; four to one, against her brother-in-law’s team. The lone Canes’ goal was in fact scored by Miriya’s brother-in-law & Canes’ captain Eric Staal. The Guins goals were slapped, tipped and deflected in by Hallsy, Crush, Geno, and Georges.

“Good work out there boys, you’re making it really hard to make cuts. But the roster stands at twenty-nine and for league standards it has to be down to twenty-three. But we’re not gonna worry about that until after the game Friday and maybe even next week.”

Practice the next day went well and Friday they practiced at South Pointe. Miriya stuck with her normal practice plan, but switched up the order a bit. There weren’t many fans in the stand which was good, the boys weren’t as distracted as during previous practices.

Since the practice wasn’t at the arena Miriya walked out with the rest of the staff and players. “Coach Staal can I have an autograph? Can I get a picture.” She signed and posed for pictures along the way to her car, making the fans happy. When she did make it to her car she rolled the window down and signed until all of the fans had cleared the area.

Heading home and changing into her game clothes she thought more about the cuts that still had to be made. Not much later the team boarded the plane to go to North Carolina to take on the Canes in their arena.

“Okay boys you played hard Wednesday night and we need to do it again. You did good covering Staal, but stick to him even tighter tonight. He got on the score sheet last time and let’s try to keep him off it tonight. Alright boys, let’s do it.”

They hit the ice and with power, dominated in the first period. Two goals were shown on the visitor’s side of the Jumbotron, scored by Brooks on the power play and Beech.

The second period held both teams scoreless, but there was an intense fight. Brooks had laid a huge hit on a Canes’ rookie behind the net. It was a clean hit but Mike, the Canes’ rookie didn’t seem to think so. He skated up beside Brooks and asked, “You wanna go?” Brooks who never shied away from a challenge smiled. The two men dropped their gloves simultaneously and circled as the whistle blew.

“Oh boy, that kid has no idea what he’s getting himself into,” Miriya said from the bench.
The home crowd booed as the big Pens’ defenseman won the fight, bringing the Carolina rookie down to the ice. Since the fight took place with only three minutes left in the period it ran over into the third.

The third held nothing spectacular, just a goal with just over a minute left. Since they were only two by two the Canes pulled their goalie in hopes of scoring with the extra attacker. The Guins destroyed their plan when TK intercepted a cross ice pass and went the other way. The arena erupted with boos as they knew that there was no chance of a comeback.

What was left of the fans quickly left following the final buzzer, only the most loyal fans stayed for the announcement of the three stars. The Penguins however were practically jumping up and down having won their fourth straight game.

“Congrats coach,” Mario said passing her in the locker room.

“Thanks Mario.” She made her way to the middle of the room. “Boys I have to say that I’m proud of you. You’ve won four straight games, who cares that they were pre-season, it proves that you guys are ready. In a week you will be playing in the home opener, the sold-out home crowd will be crazy. Now tonight; Brooks, Beechy, TK, great goals. All of you, way to hold off Staal. Get showered and get ready to go home. Great game boys!”

As the boys passed to go to the showers they congratulated Miriya, not only for coaching them to this win, but all four that they had posted during the pre-season.

On the plane Miriya sat next to Jordan as always, “Baby is it okay if I go talk to Brooks?”

“You’re the coach,” he said with a laugh.

“I was referring to something else, you know the whole playoffs.”

“Baby you know we cleared that up and I trust you.”

She smiled and kissed his cheek. “Good, I was going to talk to him about the game anyway.” She went up a few rows where she found Brooks sitting with the other two Boston boys. “My Boston boys,” she said with a smile. There was an empty seat next to Brooks so she sat down. “So double B.”

“What’s up?” he asked.

“Just wanted to say that you played an amazing game and Congrats on the Gordie Howe.”

“Thanks coach, I mean Miriya.”

“So what did I interrupt?”

“We were talking about the fight,” Scuds said.

“I was on the bench in front of Staalsy and she was like ‘that kid doesn’t know what he’s getting into’. Good fight Brooks,” Whit said.

“Good fight Brooks,” she said kissing his cheek. “I’ll see you guys later.”

“Bye Staalsy.”

She made her way back to her seat next to Jordan and rested her head on his shoulder, looking over the boys who she could see from her seat. “So baby you gonna pick Scotty up in the morning?” Jordan asked.

“Sure, I haven’t spent much time with him and I feel bad.”

The next morning Miriya rolled out of bed and made her way to her parent’s house. The fifteen minute drive from her house in Fox Chapel to her parent’s house was filled with thoughts of the pervious night’s game. ‘It’s going to kill me to make these cuts.’ She pulled into the huge drive-way and quickly stepped out of her car and up the stairs.

“Hey Mir,” Sharon said after opening the door.

“Hey Share, thanks for helping mom with Scotty.”

“Anytime, he’s with mom.”

With Scott in hand she made her way back to her car and back home. Jordan had breakfast ready when they got home and was at the table with Nik. The food, as always was delicious and was quickly eaten. After the table was cleaned and the dishes were done Nik left to hang out with Erin and Jordan went to play video games with some of the guys.

“Hey Scotty,” Miriya said picking him up. “I know I haven’t spent much time with you lately and I’m sorry. Do you still love me?” He giggled. “I take that as a yes. I love you my little baby. You’re getting so big soon you’ll be walking, and talking, and daddy and I can teach you how to skate. And when you’re bigger you can be a big bad hockey player like daddy. Well, that is if you want to play hockey. We’re not going to force you to do anything you don’t want to.” She paused for a moment. “How great would it be for my son to make it to the NHL.” She said more to herself than to her son.

At around lunch time after feeding Scott, Miriya decided to change so that she could go out without being noticed. In a pair of jeans, a Robert Morris t-shirt and an RBK hat she made her way out to the car. Contemplating between Pittsburgh Mills and Ross Park Mall she put the car in reverse and after about twenty minutes arrived at Ross Park Mall.

With Scott in his stroller Miriya made her way into the mall and to the food court. Just as every other time she was at the mall she got Chinese food and upon finishing it she walked around trying to avoid the sports stores, the places where there was the most chance that she would get recognized. She went to mostly children’s clothing stores and picked out a few things for Scott, one for Nathan and Christiano as well.

On the way home from the mall she stopped and picked up a few things for dinner. Scott was asleep when she pulled into the drive-way and Miriya couldn’t help but smile. She laid him in his crib, sleeping soundly, Miriya stood there watching him breathe. While she stood there a pair of strong arms wrapped around her waist and a kiss was placed on her head.

“It’s amazing isn’t it?” Jordan said softly as not to wake Scotty.

“Can you believe it, he’s almost seven months old,” she paused. “He’ll be seven months tomorrow.”

“I know baby and it still overwhelms me that we created this, our child.”

“I knew I loved you for a reason; you’re a great husband and a great dad. But baby I want another one, I want Scott to have a little brother or sister.”

“I want another one too, tonight?” he asked, a sly grin spreading across his lips. Miriya could hear it in his voice and turned to face him.


Monday morning it was back to practice and the team was looking good. Miriya tried to hide the fact that she was nervous, that way the guys wouldn’t be nervous and would play to their full potential. She had the last passing drill end early and made they finish out with suicides.

“Okay boys, get some water and stand at center.” With water bottles still in hand the boys stood at center, waiting for what she was about to say. “You know that I love you all and would love to keep you all on my roster, but the league says that I can’t. So it’s time for final cuts.”

The boys froze and nervous looks now appeared on all twenty-nine faces.

“I’ve decided that instead of keeping twenty-three people my roster will have twenty-two. It’s more even, there’s less healthy scratches and you guys who don’t stay will get playing time in WBS. I’m sorry that I can’t keep you all, but there’s always the chance of being called up.”

The guys stood frozen, waiting to see who would be staying on the big squad in the Steel City and who would be taking the long trip to Wilkes-Barre.

“I know that you’ll probably want to kill me, but I’m going to start with the veterans and say the rookies last.” All of the rookies looked even more nervous at this point, if that was possible. Miriya picked up her clipboard from the boards and flipped through the papers until she got to her final roster.

“Mark Eaton.”

Eats high fived everyone and made his way to the bench where he gave Miriya a hug. “Thanks Staalsy.”

“Rob Scuderi, Jordan Staal, Ryan Malone, James McGuire, Nik Vandershmut, Erik Christensen, Adam Hall, Ryan Whitney, Colby Armstrong, Kris Beech, Max Talbot, Georges Laraque, Marc-Andre Fleury, Ty Conklin, Brooks Orpik, Tyler Kennedy, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, and Sidney Crosby.”

Each player high-fived everyone else and hugged Miriya, thanking her for keeping them on the team.

“Two spots left, which means that two rookies have spots on this year’s team.” The nine people remaining now held their breath. “Eric Michaels and Ben Clarke.”

The two rookies started breathing again, high-fived their teammates and hugged their new coach.

“Congratulations to those of you who made the team, to those of you who didn’t I’m sorry. There’s a chance to be called up throughout the year and really you’ve gotten off easy. Practice nine am for those of you on the team. See you all in the morning.”

Everyone said good-bye to those who didn’t make the team and went their own ways.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Staal [A Jordan Staal Story] Sixty

Thank you all so much for reading, please continue to promote this and all of my other stories.
Also I think that you should all check out my good friend Haley's stories. She is an amazing writer with great ideas.

Tonight I Send Out Apologies [About Patrick Kane.]

I'll Meet You There [About Sidney Crosby]

There's Millions of Me's, and One of You. [About Jordan Staal]

Check out her stories and comments on mine are greatly appreciated as well.


"Coach how old is your car?" Nik asked.

"It’s an '05 but Jordan bought it for me in '09."

"You're a professional hockey coach and you're driving an eleven year old car," Brooks now joined in. "Something's wrong there."

"You should get a new car," Eats said placing his hand on her shoulder.

"I don’t know, Jordan just got a new car last month and, I don’t know," she said with a sigh.

"Staalsy I know how much you love your 'Stang," Bugsy said. "And we're not saying you can't keep it. You can, it's a great car and you've taken amazing care of it."

"You still have Jordan's old Escalade and he just bought that sexy Porsche," Kris said standing up from his stall. "So keep the Stang and by yourself a new car, you deserve it."

"Alright boys, when I have time I'll look at cars." She glanced down at her cell phone. "But for now boys, hit the ice."

Practice went well and at the end roster changes were posted at the locker room, bringing the roster down to forty-two. The rookies who had been cut said good-bye to everyone and cleared their stuff from the locker room. Miriya stayed in her office trying to finalize lines for the next day's game.

After about forty-five minutes of trying to perfect her third and fourth line she couldn't take it any longer. The notes that she had taken and the videos from practices weren't helping either. "I need a break," she said to the air. She grabbed her skates from the door handle, her stick from behind the door and made her way to the locker room. After picking up a bottle of water and a bag of pucks she made her way to the ice.

As always, the ice and a few heavy slap shots cleared her head. After a few laps she went back to her office and started the video again.

Lines were finalized at around five; four hours are practice had ended. As she was gathering her things to leave her phone rang. "Hey baby, what's up?"

"Nothing, where are you?"

"Just leaving the arena, it took longer than I thought it would to finalize these lines."

"Aw you sound tired. You don't have to make dinner tonight, Colby's babysitting and Nik and I are taking you out."

"You guys are so sweet. I'll be home in ten, fifteen minutes."

"Anything for you babe, see you when you get home."

She arrived home and showered before they headed to Claddagh on the South Side. After a good Irish meal they made their way back home. Colby brought Scott home around nine and didn’t stay long since they had practice the next morning. Miriya fed Scott and placed him in his crib before heading to bed herself.

"Stressed about the game?" Jordan asked climbing into bed.

"Yeah, it’s the first show of how good of a coach I am."

"You'll be fine, don't worry about it." He kissed her cheek and began to massage her back.

The next morning Miriya got up early again and made her way to the arena with Scott. For some reason she picked up a newspaper, something she never did. This time though, she was glad that she did. One the front page of the sports section was a half page picture of Jordan with his arms around her and an article entitled, "Do You Believe?"

"Oh God, I was waiting for something like this. What could they say about me?"

'Penguins' training camp is underway and there's speculation on whether or not their new coach has what it take to lead a team. Miriya Staal 24, a Robert Morris graduate and Pens' star center Jordan Staal`s wife, only has three years of experience in the real sports world.

General Manager Ray Shero obviously thinks she has what it takes, but only time will tell.
Looking back in reccent team history there are two coaches who looked extremely promising however turned out not to be in the end. Ed Olczyk being one and Michel Therrien the other. Just over a year ago the Pens were coming off a Stanley Cup win and just one season later lose in the first round.

Some players were able to be reached after practice this week, all saying they "Believe in their coach."

Staal herself was also able to be reached for comments responding, "You'll have to wait and see just like everyone else."

Staal and her team take the ice for their first pre-season game at home tonight against the New Jersey Devils. Let's see if the youngest and only female coach has what it takes.'

She sighed; the article certainly did not help her already rattle nerves. Just before practice started she handed Scotty off to Erin and made her way to the ice, newspaper article in hand. "Good morning boys."

"Morning coach!"

"I know that none of you read the sports section and I normally don't either. However this morning I picked one up and found this." She held out the article. "Apparently some people, even in Pittsburgh think I don’t have what it takes to coach. So I'm thinking that we should prove them wrong tonight. I'm sure you saw the note in the locker room saying who will be playing tonight, I'm gonna have you practice first so you can be rested for the game. Boys who aren't playing tonight, you will have a scrimmage with the guys who are before your practice."

The guys who weren't playing sat mostly on the away bench watching as the others practiced. Most of the guys on the bench were veterans, but not all.

"Alright boys I developed a new play, I wanna try it out. If you can get it maybe we'll use it tonight." Everyone formed a semi-circle and watched as Miriya explained the play. "Pass and shoot boys. I want to try this now so I don’t have to yell at you later. You need to get more shots on net. I know I've said it before, but those of you who played for Therrien, he had you passing way too much. I have nothing against passing, it's a huge part of the game, but with too many passes you can be picked off. We're gonna try three passes and shooting. Yes in a game if necessary you can make more than three passes, but for now, try it."

The rest of practice went well and the guys who would be playing that night seemed ready. Twenty-two guys would be dressed including two goalies.

After a shortened pre-game nap Miriya changed into her dress pants and blouse before heading to the arena. Looking over her game plans she felt better than before, but still extremely nervous. Jordan, who wasn’t playing that night, came into her office with Scott around six.

"Hey baby you okay?" She nodded getting up from her desk. Placing Scott's car seat on the floor Jordan put his arms around her. "Baby you'll be fine. You've been amazing this week and you've gotten the boys into playing shape. I'll be here for you, well up in the box with Mario, but still. Believe me, the guys in the room love you and are ready to prove that you are a great coach."

"Thanks baby, you and Scott go have fun. I'm gonna use my last half hour to calm down so I can actually talk to the boys before they go out."

"Okay, again you'll be fine. I love you." he pressed his lips to hers and felt her relax. When he slowly pulled away he picked Scott's car seat up and went to the locker room.

Miriya sat back down at her desk and with her head in her hands she let out a long sigh. With a few glasses of water and a trip to the bathroom she finally had her nerves reasonably calm and made her way to the locker room. The boys all sat in their stalls, in uniform and looked ready. "Did anyone step on the Penguin?"

"No coach!"

"Alright we're good then. Seriously though you guys are ready and it's only pre-season." She continued with her speech and got calmer and calmer as she went on. "So let's get out there and do it"

Though she had calmed down she was still too nervous to remember who she sent out for her starting line. New Jersey had their third line out and since the home team got the last change she probably sent her third line out too. She was tense for the first two minutes of the game, intently staring at the action on the ice.

However she really started to calm down for the first time all day when Ben Clarke scored three minutes into the first period with help from Kris Letang and Eric Michaels. "Alright boys there we go," Miriya said as the line skated along the bench for high fives.

Everyone on the bench smiled sensing that she was calm now and into the game.

"Good hit Ric," Miriya said to her assistant coach Mike Yeo, "I'm seriously thinking of keeping him.

Mike smiled knowing that she was back to her normal self. "He's doing good."

By the time intermission came the team was into it, feeling a win was on the way. Miriya congratulated them on a good period but reminded them not to get cocky either.

The second period brought two more goals to the Guins side of the scoreboard, the first of which sailed off Mark Eaton's stick from the point on the power play and one from Max on a break-away, short-handed.

Fleury stood strong in goal stopping all of the shoots the Devils fired; bringing the team to a three-nothing win. The team and coach were congratulated and interviewed in the locker room following the big win.

Jordan took his car back home and Miriya hers after all of her post-game duties were fulfilled. She announced that there would be an optional skate at practice that morning and reminded the guys in the room as they left.

When she arrived home she showered and fell into bed. "See baby I told you you'd be fine," Jordan said before kissing her cheek.

"You did," she smiled. "I'm really tired and have to get up to go to optional skate in the morning."

"Okay, I know that Nik and I will be there. Goodnight baby, I love you and great game."

"Thanks. I love you too, goodnight baby."

The team was in the locker room, everyone was talking about the game that they had just won. Miriya stood smiling at her team as the reporters left, players showered, and they too left.

Ray walked up behind her and put his hand on her shoulder. "Miriya we're going to have to let you go."


"You're fired."

"No, I understand that but why. What did I do wrong?" Ray didn't answer and began to walk away. "Ray?" Sadness and uncertainty were heard in her voice as it cracked.

"I'm sorry Miriya," he said without turing to face her. At this point she was alone in the locker room almost in tears.

Miriya woke up covered in sweat and sighed with relief, "Thank god it was only a dream."

"Baby what's wrong?" Jordan asked sitting up in bed.

"I had a dream that I got fired."

"Aw baby, they wouldn't fire you. You coached your team to a three-nothing win in your first game."

"I know, I'm gonna take a shower to clear my head." She made her way to the bathroom and took a quick, but hot shower. With the thoughts of the dream far from her mind now she crawled back into bed. Jordan's arms instinctively wrapped around her and held her close as she drifted back to sleep.

The next morning she woke refreshed and ready to go back to where she now spent more time than her won home; the arena. The optional skate was set for ten and she arrived at the arena at eight. She had time to kill since if any of the played showed up they would get there around nine and wait in the locker room until just before ten.

She decided to go to the weight room since she was falling behind on her work-outs, what with being coach now she didn't have much free time.

Nine forty-five came and Miriya went to the ice with her stick in hand expecting to see just a few smiling faces. To her surprise both benches were filled with smiling faces. She quickly counted, forty-two. "Everyone's here," she said more of a question than a statement. The guys on both benches nodded. "I thought everyone would be sick of me and take advantage of the chance to have a day off."

"Staalsy we love you and want to play well for you this season. And to do that we're going to practice whenever we get the chance," Scudsy said.

"And some of us want to prove that we're good enough to make it in the NHL," Ben said. This caused the guys to laugh and Miriya smiled widely.

"Alight boys then hit the ice."