The Stingrays are set to return from their eventful nine game road trip in time for a home game this Saturday night against the Charlotte Checkers. In my last post I talked about how a long road trip at this time of the season can be beneficial to a team. Who knew then that the Rays would go on such a hot streak on this trip that began in Florida and will wrap up Friday in Gwinnett? I know Coach Cail must be very proud of this team’s accomplishments on the ice.
I couldn’t help noticing on the Stingrays Facebook site that our Broadcaster, Joey Z has been shoe checked multiple times on this trip. The shoe check is an old hockey tradition where by an unsuspecting person is distracted at a meal while an accomplice spoons some foreign substance on to that person’s shoe. Usually the culprits use ranch dressing or marinara, maybe a pad of butter. If you ride a bus with a professional hockey team, sooner or later, you are going to get shoe checked. The shoe check is revealed when everyone returns to their seats and then the team begins clanking glasses. If everyone is staring at you, you better check your shoes.
The most famous shoe check that I can remember with the Stingrays, and I am dating myself, happened in 1997 when Rob Butler shoe checked an unsuspecting bus driver with snake skin boots. Rob was discovered in the act and the startled driver was at first shocked by the fact that there was a player under the table and then more than upset when he saw his boots. He collared Rob and the two had to be separated, a hilarious episode that was talked about for years to come. We never saw bussy again.
I regret that I forgot to let Joey Z know about the shoe check before he took off on this latest trip. Had he known, he would have made sure to get to the meals early and pick a strategic spot where he could have his back to the wall. That doesn’t always help you however, because sometimes they will hide under the buffet line and commit the crime; this was a favorite move of Jeff Romfo in his day. Another defense is to wear flip flops to the meal, however this is usually frowned upon based on the coach’s dress code and I am sure Cail runs a pretty tight ship as far as dress.
My advice to Joey now is to laugh it off, fear not, you can’t be the new guy forever. Just don’t buy any new shoes this season and pray for a lot of rookies in 2010.