Page 9 of The Keeper

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“Well, why don’t you give them a call and set up time to talk? Explore their ideas, pitch yours. See where it goes?”

“Will do, boss.” I’ve seen how sports teams schmooze at elite events over the years. My family plays that particular game well, too. And if the Crush want to start being more visibly involved with youth-focused organizations, what could be better than investing in kids who desperately need to be seen like they do here at CSLV? I’ve learned how to pitch deals and love the kids here too much not to try. The more I think about it, the more I believe this could work if I pitch it to them the right way.I want to make a difference.“Thanks for the go-ahead.”

She gives a thumbs-up as she answers an incoming call, and I head out, determined to find the funding necessary to get this music program off the ground.


i like music


“We want the community to get to know you,” the redhead Scarlett is saying. “Let them connect with you. As the new guy on the team, we have a unique opportunity to build some excitement around a position that doesn’t get as much love as some of the others.”

“Perhaps not here, but in Montreal, the goalie position was highly valued,” I explain.

“Itisvalued,” Scarlett says, “but we have two of the top scorers in the league at center forward and right wing. Evan and Boris are legends, and Georg, Tyler, and Viktor are highly recognizable figures on defense, as well.”

“Then Emanuel Legace must not have been very dynamic.”

“He was—is—a really great guy. Despite the fact he’s headed for the Hall of Fame in time—everyone with even half a hockey brain knows that,” she says sharply.

I recognize that tone. I can be oblivious, but I do know when someone has had enough of me. “I didn’t mean to offend you.” Given I’m aware that I come across as being cold, speaking coldly at times, I gentle my voice. It’s never my intent to be unnecessarily rude, but according to my mom, I can come off that way.

“You didn’t, it’s just that Manny almost died in that car accident. It was really hard to see him lose his career on top of it.” Sadness has replaced her sharp tone.

I don’t have a lot to say about that.

“And furthermore, you seem like a guy who would know the stats of his competitors, so surely you’ve seen what he did when he was here?”

I shrug. “I didn’t say he wasn’t effective; I said he wasn’tdynamic. I meant no offense. Some players are steady but don’t have the fan base.”

She rolls her eyes and shakes her head. “Trust me, Manny has a loyal fan base in this city. You’ll find this out for yourself without any need for me to try and convince you,” she says in an annoyed tone that tells me she’s done being polite regarding critique of the former goalie for the Crush. Got it.

I can tell Scarlett thinks I’m arguing to argue, and I suppose I am. It’s something Emily accuses me of doing all the time. I hold up my hands in mock surrender and give her my attention, ready to move on.

“So, tell me about you, Calum—”

“It’s Cal,” I correct.

“Cal, then. Tell me about you. What do you do for fun?”

“Playing hockey is fun.”

“Well, that’s a given. But what about when you’re not playing hockey? Surely you have some hobbies that don’t require ice skates?”

“I like music. Specifically, I like to listen to live music.”

“Oh, cool, any particular type?”

“Rock, mostly. And I play the guitar. Just for fun, not in a band or anything.”

“That I can use, sir,” Scarlett says with renewed interest. “In fact, the program director for Children’s Services Las Vegas was just in to meet with the Crush Foundation team, and she pitched them on the idea of a new music workshop for the kids there. We’re working on a plan to get you guys out in the community a bit more, and we want you to make an impact and have fun at the same time. Maybe this one would be a good fit for you?”

“A music program for kids?” I mull the idea over in my head, not sure I’m the best choice for making a good impact on kids, but maybe…

“Yep.” She nods her head vigorously, her long red curls bouncing with the movement. “I’m thinking we could give them a check to help pay for new instruments and then you could go in and teach guitar lessons once a week or something?”

I scratch my head and think about it for a second. Community service is very much a part of being a high-profile athlete, and I don’t mind getting involved if it’s something that is less about the athlete and more about what the kids need. I idolized Mario LeBlanc when I was a young player, not only for his skill on the ice, but also how generously he pledged his support to Montreal Children’s Hospital. I remember he made a huge impression on me growing up.Could I help kids in this way?I guess it could be kind of fun to teach kids how to play. “Sure. I’ll give it a shot. Count me in.”