Tuesday, November 11, 2008

You Fuckig Did It, Ray Scapinello

A referee never gets any attention until they fuck up. A referee is a leveled person. Nobody likes the referee.

Below the referee is the linesman. Do you know what he does? He calls icing and offside. He drops the puck. He puts the net back on it's moorings when it gets knocked off. It is a munson of a job. Nobody likes referees and nobody cares about a linesman. They are munson-men.

Yesterday I learned that a linesman has been inducted into the NHL hall of fame. I can't help but feel good about it.

I started to wonder about Ray Scapinello. Here you have a guy who has spent his life lines-manning. Guy is 62 years old and has been in more NHL games than anyone. He has been touring around North America forever. I wonder what his schedule is like. Where he works most often.

Do they fly him around? Or do they make him take the greyhound. If the execs at NHL were making the decision I am sure it would be a difficult one. Revenue is a priority. I am sure Scapinello was humiliated a few times on greyhound buses in the early nineteen nineties. I am sure he felt like nobody cared about him and he wasn't important or worth shit to the world at certain points in his life. Who wouldn't? as a munson man. He just thought to himself: 'this is my life, and that's the way things are.' Then he went about his days doing his job. Putting the net back on it's moorings and dodging stray pucks.

I am sure he was hit with thousands of 'clearing attempts.' I've italicized that because Ray will sometimes have wondered if the player was actually trying to shoot the puck at him just to hurt him.

I'll bet he accidentally blocked one of these, once or twice, and the other team benefited by his error, and scored. And Scapinello thought to himself: 'you're such an idiot, Ray' as the players scoffed at him and the coach screamed. 'All you need to do is drop the puck and call offside and stay out of the way of the puck, and you can;t even do that. God.'

Imagine how often he was screamed at by angry coaches like Mike Keenan? Then he thought: 'oh well, nothing here or there. That's the breaks I guess. Sometimes things won't work out the way you want them to.' Because that's the kind of guy Ray Scapinello is. He doesn't dwell. He suffers stoically. That's why he's in the HHOF.

The article's heading says, It's Unanimous: Scapinello Was the Best. They're stretching it: Ray knows. He probably thinks this is all kind of silly. The Best at what? The best at dropping the puck and calling icing and filling the holes in the ice with water bottles during commercial break.

Why wasn't he ever a ref? Did he never want that? Or was he not good enough? Did he feel that he had a special calling in lines-manning?


Here is a munson who worked hard and didn't complain and is getting a little bit of recognition. I'm not going to act like this is some gigantic accomplishment. I'm not going to pretend like a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame is like, sacred or anything. It's not that meaningful.

But it is something.

In the future, some Canadian kid will walk through the HHOF and say, 'Daddy, who's that?' And the Dad will say, 'a linesman I guess,' and then he'll walk up to the plaque and say, 'says here his name is Ray Scapinello.' And his kid will look up at the linesman's big cardboard cutout, thinking about whatever kids will be thinking about then - a new toy?

And that kid may or may not grow up dreaming of being a hockey player. He may keep dreaming into his late teens, but he might not be good enough. But he'll be still very much in love with the sport; making money by reffing peewee games as I did in my mid teens.

He won't be able to go to college. In his 20's he may or may not ref junior hockey games. The world won't make any sense to him. Hockey will endure.

And maybe he'll be a linesman one day, and the name Scapinello will resound in his head forever like an ohm.