Saturday, February 21, 2009

AMHL Wednesday: French Connection

February 18, 2009
Concord, MA

“Sheel-BEAR,” I say to Gil Cote, who’s skating toward the bench, which has been my coaching perch for the last six weeks.

Ça va?” the Shark defenseman asks me.

Ça va,” I reply.

It—our season—is going well. We’re undefeated heading into this morning’s tilt against Les Habitants.

We’re tied 1–1 in the first period—Sharks skating left to right across your AMHL audio device—when Gil embarks on a partial breakaway. He’s just left of center and making a beeline for the goalie. A right-handed shooter, Cote sells the forehand—and then roofs a backhander, à la David Krejci’s goal last night for the Boston Bruins.

But Gil’s primary contribution this season has been his solid defense: blocking shots and swatting pucks clear of opponents’ sticks. In the second period, Cote skates backwards into the near circle. He waits for the stickhandler to approach and then, with Gil’s left hand on the top of his own stick, sweeps left to dislodge the puck from the confounded Canadien.

In the third period, the Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge score two goals in the final few minutes, but by then Cote and company have already scored five.

After the 5–3 victory and then the post-game discussion (and half a bagel), I follow Paul Anastas (my chauffer) to the parking lot. I look right and notice a player whose name I don’t know and with whom I’ve never spoken.

“Are you Canadian?” I ask the man of slender build and who’s wearing sleek eyeglasses.

Marc Valle says he is from Montreal. He’s a little hobbled from a puck that struck him in the foot. Excellent, another shot-blocker.

I hand him my business card (which my wife/AMHL Photographer designed: a donut pictured above text describing me as a hockey player and creative thinker) and then walk toward my chauffeur’s vehicle.

I knew he was Canadian, I say to Paul, and then wonder out loud if AMHL management might someday pair Gil Cote and Marc Valle (and a player to be named later: Rick Martin or Rene Robert?) to create our own version of the French Connection.
Post a Comment