As you may or may not have heard, it came to light this week that the Penguins benefited a great deal over the course of the season from some sage advice from a homeless man.
To quote directly from the story:
Ms. Ollis and Mr. Hoop’s attorney, Sumner L. Parker, said the notes started appearing Feb. 19, and are nonsensical at times, telling the players to avoid eating sweets, offering other dietary tips and suggesting vitamins they should take.”
Sounds perfectly reasonable to me, especially when you consider that, after Feb. 19, the Penguins earned at least a point from 15 of their next 16 games and outright won nine of the next 10. Not that the Penguins didn’t have a great team (or at least a number of excellent players, including the two best in the world), but would they have had the nutritional knowhow to get over the hump? It’s unlikely. So clearly, the homeless are finely attuned to what it takes to be a winner in the National Hockey League.
And so, with this in mind, I began my quest to help the Calgary Flames the best way I knew how: by ringing up the pay phones in Olympic Plaza and straightaway asking, “Are you homeless?” The first several responses were in the negative (and really, they seemed pretty upset about the insinuation for people answering a pay phone in the middle of the day), but the fifth person, a vagrant named Wally, replied that he was, and I launched into my questioning.
While he wasn’t very good with specifics — his answer to how Sutter should approach re-signing Boyd was to stand outside the Saddledome with a sign that says, “Why lie, I need to re-sign a promising restricted free agent.” — he did provide a plethora of helpful hints to get the team really buzzing this season.
- When you need to sleep on the team plane, a couple sheets of newspaper make a great blanket.
- Need to get extra cap space? Collecting cans is a great way to get it done.
- Keep your per diem money. Lots of restaurants just throw food out after lunch hours end.
- You can never wear enough layers under your jersey.
- There’s no reason you can’t sport a playoff beard all year round.
- You can use your jersey and stick to make a bindle, which doubles as a useful carrying case for loose pucks.
- Riding boxcars is a cheap, environmentally friendly alternative to flying.
- Composite sticks don’t make good kindling for barrel fires.
- If you take all the food from the pregame meal, brother, you got a stew goin’.
- Cutting off your glove’s fingers is both fashionable and functional.
Wally, apparently, traveled to Calgary after he lost his job in 1935.