January 19, 2012; Toronto, ON, CANADA; Minnesota Wild forwardCal Clutterbuck
(22) during the pre game warm up against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
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 that 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 throughout the 2013-14 season. These are his own words. These are his inner musings. These are The Clutterbuck Chronicles.
(And if it’s not clear about what’s going on in this space, the definition of the word ‘parody’ can be found here. Now, off we go…)
Sunday, June 30
Let me start by saying that before it happened, the 2013 NHL Draft wasn’t at the top of my list of Events I’ll Remember For The Rest Of My Life. But now, it is. Thanks to this year’s Draft, I get to join the New York Islanders and my boy John Tavares.
I’m only saying this because getting to play with the league’s best player—yeah, I said it—is pretty much icing on the cake. I mean, the Islanders are a young, up-and-coming team and I’m happy to be on the roster. But reuniting with Johnny T is the ultimate bonus.
Everyone knows we played together in juniors in Oshawa, but what people don’t know is that he’s my boy. We go way back, and I love him to death. And now it’s officially my job to protect him out there on the ice, because that’s what teammates do.
Like: if you send Johnny T into the boards headfirst during a game, I’ll find you on my next shift and dump you into our bench. If you’re a pedestrian waking past Johnny T on the sidewalk, and you look at him the wrong way, you’re done. I’ll take you out with a well-timed hip check like we’re playing dek hockey. Get his order wrong at Subway? Bad news, guy-making-sandwiches-behind-the-counter-at-Subway: I’m jumping over the vegetables and putting your head into the side of the toaster.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that no one will mess with Johnny T while I’m wearing my Isles jersey. (And even if I’m not actually wearing it, those guys should still be on their toes. Because I’m watching them.)
Thursday, July 4
Today, everyone in the United States is acting uber ‘Merican. That’s all I’m going to say about that.
(I’m totally wearing a red-and-white suit made out of actual maple leaves on Canada Day, though. Which is exactly why I’m not judging the people wearing American-flag bandanas and homemade jorts in the name of patriotism today.)
Monday, July 15
Met with Garth Snow in-person. I don’t know what I was expecting, exactly, but I was surprised at how intelligent he was. I mean, after everything you read about him online, you’d think the guy was just some dude playing EA NHL 13 ‘Be a GM’ mode with the difficulty sliders turned all the way up.
As it stands, he’s pretty sharp. After all, he swung a trade for me, right? I’m kidding. But seriously.
Garth said he likes what I can bring to the table in terms of physicality. That’s when I told him I knew what my role on this team was going to be:
Me: “I’ll protect Johnny T at all costs. I don’t care if someone bumps into him in our locker room, that guy’s going down.”
Garth Snow [laughing]: “Well, you don’t have to go that far. Those are our guys in the room. No one in there is trying to hurt John.”
Me [stone-cold serious]: “I’m just saying, if it comes down to it, I’m punching first and asking questions later.”
GS: “Umm, I like your commitment. But seriously, don’t punch out any of your teammates, OK?”
Me [winking]: “Don’t worry, I understand.”
GS [looking unsettled]: “OK…now say that without winking at me.”
Me [winking]: “Don’t worry, I understand.”
GS: [closing his eyes and tiredly rubbing the bridge of his nose with his index finger and thumb] “Alright Cal, you’re good to go. Thanks for stopping by.”
He stands up and shakes my hand, but as I’m leaving the office I hear him on the intercom with his assistant, asking her to draft a one-line memo to the team: “Effective immediately, no one is allowed to come within three feet of John at any time.”
Friday, July 19
Started getting phone calls and texts from all the guys on the team: Okie, Grabs, Mouly, Bails, Hammer, Lubo…the whole group.
They’ve all been very welcoming, being that I’m the new guy. I’m not sure if that’s because they’re genuinely nice people, or because they’re scared I might beat them up.
Either way, I’m happy with it.
Even Sparky texted me this: “d87fDSJD *& 45 sSSs Islanders ;)” which is weird, but kind of impressive that his big foam fingers were able to formulate the word “Islanders” and a winky face when he clearly couldn’t get them to spell anything else.
So Okie’s been working out with Johnny T this summer, which is good news for us. We—and I can say “we” now, because I’m on the team—need him to get off to a fast start this season. And what better way to improve during the offseason than by working out with our most dedicated player?
The only thing that concerns me about their workout arrangement is that what if Okie messes up? What if he throws a medicine ball at Johnny T before he’s ready to catch it? We can’t have Johnny T getting hurt before the season. Or, you know, ever.
So I take a picture of my fist and text it to Okie. No context necessary; he’ll understand what I mean.
Wednesday, July 31
Finally met Matt Martin today.
Word around town is that we’re going to be like the Bash Brothers from D2: The Mighty Ducks, which is an all-time classic sports flick but you already knew that because let’s be serious who in their right mind doesn’t consider that to be an all-time classic sports flick?
My only stipulation to that arrangement is that I get to be Dean Portman. No offense to Matt Martin—or Fulton Reed—but Portman was a handsome dude, and so am I. It just makes sense.
I was going to tell Matt my plan for adopting our D2 character names, but I never got the chance. Our introduction at the Coliseum was…interesting.
Matt Martin: “Sup Clutzy.”
Me [extending my hand for a handshake]: “Hi Matthew. Nice to finally meet—”
MM [pushing my hand aside and giving me an all-out man hug]: “It’s just ‘Matty,’ bee tee dubs.”
MM: “‘Bee tee dubs?’ It means ‘BTW.’ ‘By the way,’ get it? Yo man, you wanna, like…lax it up later, or something?”
Me [confused]: “I, uh…”
MM: “You know, laxercise. It’s like exercising, but with lacrosse. That’s what I call it.”
Me: “Oh I get it. Yeah, maybe. Not sure if that’s really my speed though.”
MM: “Whatevs bro, you’ll get into it. It’s huge here on the Island.”
Me: “Yeah I’ve heard. Kind of a regional thing, right?”
MM: “‘Kind of an AWESOME thing,’ is more like it. Yo check this: you, me, Zeeker and C-Mac all head down the turnpike to Modell’s, get us some sticks, then we hit up Eisenhower. Just some cradling and long-toss, it’ll be chill. Way better than playing wall ball in the weight room.”
Me: “OK sure. I’ll see if I can rearrange my schedule to—”
MM: “Sick brah, I’ll put you on the rocket docket.”
Me: “Matty, I’ll be honest: I only understand about half of what you’re saying to me right now.”
MM [ignoring me while eyeing my admittedly luxurious hairstyle]: “Then we gotta work on your flow.”
Me: “My ‘flow?’”
MM: “Your hair, man. Your hair. We’ll grow it out; give it a trim; let it rage; then trim it up nice. That’s how you get the lettuce, broski. See, I used to have sick flow, then I chopped it all off. Bad move on my part. I’m thinking about bringing it back, that way when we’re crushing dudes on the ice this season, people will totally be like, “Oh man, check out the Bash Bros and their dueling flows.” It rhymes, but it’s also true, right? Kind of like a double-meaning thing.”
CC [head spinning]: “You’ve put some thought into this, haven’t you?”
MM: “Yeah kinda. I’m more of a philosophizer than you’d think. I’m hella good at thinking up stuff like that. Alright brotha, I’ll check you tomorrow. And remember: laxercise. Lates, Clutzy.”
They didn’t tell me coming to Long Island would mean having to learn a new language. I should’ve had my agent check up on that. In the meantime, I’m investing in a Matty-Marts-to-English pocket dictionary.
Tuesday, August 6
Autograph Signing Day. Or Official Meet-And-Greet Day. Or Unofficial Announcing-That-Cal-Clutterbuck-Will-Defend-This-Barn Day. Whatever you want to call it.
Garth told me I’d be signing autographs at the Coliseum Team Store and punching out any Rangers fans that came to troll the event. OK fine, I added the part about punching out Rangers fans in line, but you get where I’m coming from.
I’m here to protect the Coli, and the best way to do that is by physically intimidating anyone dumb enough to wear a Messier no. 11 jersey to an Islanders player’s welcome event. Because sometimes that guy needs to learn a lesson.
And sometimes that lesson involves getting thrown through the plate glass window out front of the Team Store.
Luckily for everyone in attendance, no Rangers fans showed up. (I say “luckily,” because even though I’d have no problem starting a fight in a public place with a fan of our in-state rivals, I didn’t have to today. I’m just thinking about the kids, you know?) I had a great time meeting the Islanders fans who came out to see me and tell me how excited they were for the season. I’ll never get tired of that.
With the season only two months away, I’m in full-on Islanders mode: met the hometown fans, started cultivating a slow-burning anger towards anyone in a red-white-and-blue jersey, and starting laxercising.
Because that’s what it takes to fully assimilate oneself into the Long Island mindset. Now excuse me while I head down to Eisenhower and beat the crap out of a few unlucky tree trunks. (You know, practice for when some unfortunate opponent breathes on Johnny T a little too forcefully.)
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