Cal Clutterbuck is an enigma: an on-ice fighter and an off-ice introvert. Upon joining the New York Islanders, he requested that the transcripts of his personal journal entries be made public, so fans can appreciate the physical and mental grind of the NHL season. EyesOnIsles.com has obtained exclusive rights to publish these transcripts, and will continue to do so on a weekly basis throughout the 2013-14 season. These are his own words. These are his inner musings. These are The Clutterbuck Chronicles.
(And if things aren’t clear about what’s going on in this space, the definition of the word ‘parody’ can be found here. Now, off we go…)
Thursday, August 8
Now that we’re really into August—and that much closer to the start of the season—I’ve settled into a nice rhythm here on Long Island. And I have to say: being here just feels right.
Every time I go down to Eisenhower Park in the morning, the guys mowing the lawn automatically point me in the direction of a few tree trunks I haven’t destroyed yet, so I can really get the most out of my daily workouts. Nothing says, “Welcome to Uniondale” like a park maintenance crew that wants to see you succeed, you know?
I mean, I could beat the crap out of the same trees day after day, but that wouldn’t make me the toughest hockey player I can be. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you told me you found a tree at Eisenhower with most of the bark still on its trunk, I’d call you a liar.
Because I’ve been there. And I’m like a bare-knuckle lumberjack.
You know the old saying, “When a butterfly flaps its wings in Kansas, a tidal wave rises in the Pacific?” I’m kind of like that butterfly, except more manly and better at skating. When you’re talking about my personal style of hockey, the saying goes more like this: “When Cal Clutterbuck lays a body check in an NHL game, a star in a not-too-distant galaxy explodes.”
It’s more accurate. You know, because explosions.
When I’m coming at you on the ice with a full head of steam, you’re forced to contemplate the inescapability of death, which is a great metaphor for life in general because no one lives forever but also I’m chasing you down and when I check you into the boards you might die.
Friday, August 9
I have no idea what a “hipster” is, but if what everyone has been telling me is true, and they’ve totally been copying my sense of style since 2007—with their trendy glasses, full-sleeve tattoos, old-timey mustaches and general attitude that all mainstream stuff is “so OVER, man”—I’m going to have to put an end to it.
With the team moving to Brooklyn in the very near future, I’m excited for this organization to take control of the country’s largest media market. What I’m not excited about is being confused with every wannabe-bike-messenger-looking dude on the street when I’m walking through Williamsburg.
Those guys better not get in my face. Because I’ll drop them quicker than if they called Johnny T “overrated.”
Sunday, August 11
I caught up with Matt Martin today, since we were both at the Coli getting in some training time while things are still relatively quiet.
I could hear him before I could see him. I was walking down the tunnel from the locker room to the weight room when I heard the telltale “THUMP [pause] THUMP [pause] THUMP” of someone playing wall ball with a lacrosse stick:
Me: “Hey Matty, how’s it going?”
Matt Martin [not taking his eyes off the ball, continuing to practice]: “Sup Clutzy. 50 on my dominant side, 75 on my non-dominant side, 25 behind-the-back. That’s one set. I do ten of these per day.”
Me: “Sounds like you take your laxercise pretty seriously.”
MM: “You got it, Bro DiMaggio.”
Me: “Hey, I heard Matt Moulson was pretty good at lacrosse, too.”
MM: “Psssh…Mouly? Yeah, he’s deece, or whatever. But no one on this team has stick skills like me, brohan. I could run clinics for some of these guys.”
Me: “Is that why you’re always carrying your stick around with you? I don’t think I’ve seen you put it down, except when you’re on the ice.”
MM: “Be one with it, and it will be one with you.”
Me: “Umm…yeah, I guess.”
MM: “Just saying, the more you get a feel for your equipment, the better off you’ll be.” [stopping his practice] “Hey listen, Broseph Lieberman: you wanna figure out our pregame playlist for the season? I was thinking we’d start out with some Carly Rae Jepsen, you know: get the juices flowing. Then we get into some Kelly Clarkson and Shania Twain. Maybe then we really get things going with that song by Willow Smith. You know, the one about long hair? [singing] “I whip my hair back and forth, I whip my hair back and forth,” that one. Since we’ll both have killer lettuce by then, it makes sense. Right? You with me on this?”
Me [not sure if he’s joking]: “Uh yeah, sure man. Whatever you think would work—”
MM [excitedly, clearly not joking]: “Solid, solid. I’ll get to work on a mix and tell the guys that it was both of our ideas. Later on, brotha.”
Listen, I’m not here to judge anyone based on their music preference or anything…but if the guys think that I had anything to do with Matty Martin’s “pump up mix,” my reputation as a heavy hitter won’t last more than a day.
I need to establish my physical presence immediately. I leave the Coliseum in search of an unsuspecting Rangers fan so I can prove my point.
Monday, August 12
Zeeker’s already called me six times today. Every time I pick up, he goes, “ME DAYS UNTIL OPENING NIGHT! ME DAYS UNTIL OPENING NIGHT! ME DAYS UNTIL OPENING NIGHT!” then hangs up.
I don’t know if he thinks he’s funny, or he’s just really excited that there are only 53 more days until we play the Devils. He’s like a small child who just figured out how to use his dad’s iPhone for the first time.
I’m not even sure if Zeeker is on the team, to be honest. Isn’t he just someone’s kid who we let hang out in the locker room from time to time? Does anyone know if he has a legit roster spot? Can I get a ruling on this? Where’s Ashton Kutcher and his camera crew? Am I asking too many questions?
I’ll make it a point to ask Garth if the Coliseum has a day-care center. That might shed some light on what’s going on here. It would almost explain how a 9-year-old child thinks he’s the fourth-line center on an NHL playoff team. Then again, I’ve seen weirder things.
Like Niederreiter demanding NHL playing time when he doesn’t even have a mustache. I mean: COME ON, guy. At least sport some upper lip hair if you’re going to do that. He’ll find out soon enough that Minnesota is cold. And it’s even colder when you don’t look like this dude.
A solid mustache can take you pretty far in life, especially in NHL circles. Other players tend to trust a guy with a phenomenal mustache. I should know; I have a phenomenal mustache.
Tuesday, August 13
So Shark Week was awesome, as per usual. In fact, I’ve still got it on the brain. You know how if sharks stop swimming, they die? Well, if I stop laying out opposing players on the ice, I die.
Not really, but you get it.
If that were actually the case, I’d never make it through an offseason. I mean, there are only so many hip checks I can lay on unsuspecting pedestrians during the summer before one of two things happens: 1) I get bored, because laying checks on non-NHL players gets old; or 2) someone files a lawsuit.
Since Garth has already made it clear that I shouldn’t really be harming people who aren’t Islanders opponents, I decided to take out my offseason aggression another way: by boxing a kangaroo. I figured it’d be a great way to drum up some interest in the team considering absolutely nothing else is going on. But when I talked to Garth, he didn’t seem as excited about the idea as I was:
Me: “Picture it: we put up posters, sell tickets, put the ring in the center of the Coliseum…it’ll be great. It’ll be like something out of the 1880s. I could do that thing where I box like Jack Dempsey: turn my fists up so that my wrists are facing the ceiling. I’ve got it all figured—”
Garth Snow: “Cal, Cal, Cal…I feel like we’ve spoken about this kind of thing already. Remember our talk about the ‘Punching Booth’ idea you had for the Long Island Fair coming up this September?”
Me [excitedly]: “Yeah, that’s another great idea. It’s like a ‘Kissing Booth,’ but I just punch people in the face.”
GS [shaking his head]: “No, yeah…I uh…I get the concept. I just don’t know if having people pay money to get punched in the face by you is the best use of your talents, understand? Let’s have you just focus on playing hockey, alright?”
Me: “I’m just saying, it’ll keep me sharp. That’s all. Hey, before I go, one more question: is there a day care center here at the Coliseum? Because there’s been this little kid running around the locker room wearing a no. 53 jersey and I was just thinking—”
GS [forehead resting on his desk, voice muffled]: “Cal…”
Me: “…Focus on hockey?”
GS: “Focus on hockey. Please.”
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