Some fool needs to take charge here, and I am just the fool. I cannot shoot a hockey puck. I cannot stop a hockey puck. I cannot even walk across the ice without falling down.
But I am taking charge, because, gosh darn it — ooh, did I really say
“gosh darn it”? — this city is not ready for baseball season. Have you looked at the Tigers’ pitching staff? Are you nuts?
Give me that clipboard. Give me that whistle. We’ve got some hockey to play here. Obviously, the Red Wings have the talent to beat the Blues. Yet here they are, in a desperation game tonight, their season hanging in the balance. Something must be wrong with their preparation, their schedule and their pregame activities.
So I am taking over the itinerary.
The next 13 hours will go like this: RED WINGS ITINERARY, 5/14/1996 9:00 A.M. — Paul Coffey looks in shaving mirror, says “I am Paul Coffey, not Petr Klima.” 9:05 A.M. — Sergei Fedorov looks in shaving mirror, says “I am Sergei Fedorov, not Yakov Smirnov.” 9:10 A.M. — Steve Yzerman looks in shaving mirror, says “You know, I do look like Johnny Depp. How about that?” 9:15 A.M. — Scotty Bowman decides Chris Osgood will start in goal. Also decides Mike Vernon has swollen glands. 9:20 A.M. — TEAM PRAYER. 9:21 A.M. — TEAM PRAYER is translated into Russian, with added phrase “and if we can’t win, Lord, please keep us safe in the Yugos we will be driving when our complimentary sports cars are taken back by angry dealers.” 9:25 A.M. — TEAM BREAKFAST: Protein drink, Lucky Charms cereal, rabbit’s foot omelet. 9:35 A.M. — Give Keith Primeau huge slab of oatmeal. Inform him he cannot leave table until he finishes. Get it? Finishes? 10:00 A.M. — Nap. 10:30 A.M. — Coach Bowman decides Mike Vernon’s swollen glands have cleared up, but he now has whooping cough. 11:00 A.M. — Team departs for practice, except Vernon. (NOTE: Trainer. Please ask Vernon to cough loudly if anyone calls his room.) 11:15 A.M. — Arrive rink. 11:20 A.M. — Visit Blues locker room with toilet paper, soapy water and basket of eggs. See what happens. 11:30 A.M. — Practice skate. 11:31 A.M. — Special drill for Keith Primeau. He must mop floor in locker room and cannot join team until he finishes. Get it? Finishes? 12:30 P.M. — Team meets with media. Uses standard cliches. 12:45 P.M. — Shut door to media. Laugh. 12:50 P.M. — Coach Bowman meets with media, announces that Chris Osgood will
“possibly, perhaps, maybe” start in goal, and Mike Vernon has been bitten by a tsetse fly. 1:00 P.M. — Return to hotel. 1:15 P.M. — TEAM PRAYER. 1:16 P.M. — Translate TEAM PRAYER into Russian, add words “and if we can’t win, Lord, please watch over our Soviet friends when their visas are revoked.” 1:20 P.M. — TEAM LUNCH: Spinach, red meat, extra-strong coffee. 2:00 P.M. — Coach Bowman calls Mike Vernon’s room, asks if Vernon still has tonsils. 2:01 P.M. — PR director issues press release saying Mike Vernon is suffering from tonsillitis. 2:10 P.M. — American players take field trip to see “Rocky.” 2:10 P.M. — Canadian players take field trip to see “Youngblood.” 2:10 P.M. — Russian players take field trip to The Gap, and are reminded what blue jeans cost back in Russia. 3:55 P.M. — Large poster of Wayne Gretzky is hung in hotel hallway; each player is given pen to draw on mustache. 4:00 P.M. — TEAM SMOKE: Lucky Strikes. Smoke ’em if you got ’em. 4:05 P.M. — TEAM SMOKE ends. Trainer asks, “Keith Primeau are you finished?” Get it? Finished? 4:10 P.M. — Players return to rooms and rub lamps. If genie comes out, immediately notify Coach Bowman, who will determine whether genie has groin pull. 4:15 P.M. — TEAM NAP. 5:00 P.M. — Dino Ciccarelli looks in mirror, says “I am Dino Ciccarelli, not some second-round loser.” 5:00 P.M. — Nicklas Lidstrom looks in mirror, says “I am Nicklas Lidstrom, not some second-round loser.” 5:00 P.M. — Mike Vernon looks in mirror, says “My glands are fine. What the hell was he talking about?” 5:30 P.M. — Bus departs for arena. 6:45 P.M. — TEAM PRAYER. 6:46 P.M. — TEAM PRAYER is translated for Russian players, with added words,
“and if we can’t win, Lord, please remind us that money is the root of all evil, and we shouldn’t be mad when our contracts are voided.” 7:05 P.M. — Red Wings take ice. 9:56 P.M. — Red Wings win game, 4-1. Russians score all four goals. 10:00 P.M. — Team sends thank-you note to new itinerary man, and offers him large contract to do basically nothing. 10:02 P.M. — Itinerary man calls newspaper, says he will be taking off for a while, and good luck with Game 7.