I pride this blog on being at least in the top 50 ‘hockey blogs written by part-time crime novelists, based in Melbourne, and who took up the sport at a late age (left-hand shooting, Aries division)’.
So in the spirit of that, here’s a juicy true crime fact you may or may not be aware of: when people are shot they generally fall down, but they don’t usually have to. Let’s run through that again, slowly. Falling when shot is actually a learned response, as in: a bullet hits you and you instinctively, somewhere in your confused, horrified, adrenalin-charged brain, think: ‘Oh my God, I’ve been shot … I should probably lie down.’
I read about this in Dan Simon’s book, ‘Homicide: A year on the killing streets’, which is a cracking read and is basically the blueprint of Simon’s later work, like the series that may be the best television drama ever made, ‘The Wire’, depending on where you stand on ‘Real Housewives of Dromana’. I read it as broad brushstroke research for ‘Roll With It‘.
Simon spent a year hanging out with homicide cops in Baltimore and it’s a brilliant, colourful account of their world. The falling-when-shot thing was especially fascinating. He goes into some details of ballistics and gun force and basically surmises that there are only one or two ‘elephant guns’ that could literally blow an adult human off their feet. The others will put holes in you but not lead to the classic Hollywood-esque blown-backwards-through-a-plate-glass-window scenario. Simon recounts one story of an armed robber who had a wild shoot-out with cops, somehow got in his car and drove away, was eventually cut off and leapt out of the car to indulge in another shoot-out with police and finally slumped to the ground. He died, and the autopsy later showed that it was a bullet from the first exchange, before he even got in the car, drove around, etc, that was the fatal shot.
Anyway, the reason I’m saying all this is because it happened to me last night in dev league.
Not shot by a gun, obviously – the hockey rules are clear that such an act would be a game misconduct and I’d imagine a five minute minor penalty to the team, at least.
But at one stage, I found myself all alone in our defensive end after an opposition break-out. Who knows how I was the only player on Red fast enough to get down there to help the goalie, but it happened. Because suddenly I was watching Ballarat’s finest, Phil Clements, winding up from the blue line. I got between the puck and the goal, like you’re supposed to, Phil got some air under the shot and the puck deflected hard, very hard, off my leg. Which was all peachy except that my right knee was suddenly screaming. According to my coach on the night, Shona, I had turned my body slightly as the shot arrived and exposed the side of my knee, the part completely unprotected by the extensive shin and knee padding. Yep, skin and bone: direct hit.
And this is where Dan Simon kicks back in, because I fell immediately to the ice, as though shot.
And once there, as play went on around me, I had time to think:
wow, that hurt
should get up
ouch standing hurts
nah, keep skating.
Except that after skating for a few moments, I was in a world of pain, changed my mind and went to the bench.
But after a few minutes, the knee was surprisingly fine – I didn’t miss a shift – and is not hurting at all this morning, although I suspect I’m going to have a Hall of Fame bruise, which is annoying because it’s chilly at the moment and all you want to do is wear shorts to show off a bruise like that when they happen. So I’m probably going to catch a cold, wearing inappropriate clothing and all. Mostly, I hope the knee remains fine so I can play the Cherokees’ first official game of summer league tomorrow night. I think it will be all right, luckily.
But between shifts, I found myself wondering why my body had collapsed, sought the safety of the ice, after being struck. I’m pretty sure I could have kept standing, if my brain hadn’t done the ‘learned response’ thing. Weird.
It should be mentioned that the guy who tried to kill me – yeah, that guy Phil – is a dirty Bruins fan and, as I type, his team is sitting in the visitor change rooms at the Joe Louis Arena, with the puck due to drop against my Red Wings in 40 minutes.
Avenge me, Hank Zetterberg. Avenge me!