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Dana and I were up at 6:30 on Tuesday morning to make sure we got the boys going in time for school. I passed the boys' bathroom and I heard the shower so I was happy that I didn't have to rouse them from bed.
I got to the Kitchen first and I was going to start breakfast while Dana finished up getting ready. When I got there Sean was dressed and was getting a bowl out to mix up the scrambled eggs.
"Did you get any sleep at all last night, Son?"
"Sort of. I'm Ok," he said as he broke an egg into the bowl along with half the shell.
"How about I do that and you start the toast," I said as I could see he wasn't really perking.
I started preparing the eggs and wasn't paying attention to what Sean was doing until I heard the microwave door close.
"Sean, that's not the toaster. How about you go watch TV or something and I'll call you when things are ready to eat."
A few minutes later Dana joined me in the Kitchen.
"Why is Sean downstairs in the Media room watching TV and not helping you prepare breakfast?" she asked.
"I don't like my scrambled eggs crunchy," I said as I smiled.
She shook her head and gave me a big smile after I explained what had happened. Jake came down a few minutes later and we told him to go call for Sean to come up, as breakfast was ready. The three of us sat down at the table and Sean still hadn't come up. When I went down to get him he was sound asleep on the couch. I gently woke him up and we joined Dana and Jake at the table in the Kitchen.
"Boy you look like you're wide awake and ready to learn, Son," I said as Dana and I chuckled.
He gave us one of his looks and dug into his breakfast. We got the boys loaded on the bus with their lunches and backpacks. I lingered a while at the side of the road as the bus finally disappeared out of sight.
"What's the matter, Al?" Dana asked.
"I was just thinking back to when my girls went off on the bus to their first days of high school. That was when they ceased to be daddy's little girls."
"Well they're not little anymore, but they're still daddy's girls, just like those two will still be dad's boys when they're all grown up," Dana said as she gave me a big smile.
She took my hand and we walked up the driveway to the house.
I tied up a couple of things that morning which needed to be taken care of as soon as possible. I got the golf club booked for our wedding reception, and was able to talk to Ray about the documents for Dana to adopt the boys.
"I'm surprised she still wants to adopt them after spending two weeks with them in Europe," Ray said as he laughed.
I also called over to the arena and booked some ice time after school. I wanted to get Jake out and used to playing in goalie equipment and teach him how to play the position. I also called Rickie and he said he would be available to help me. When the boys got home I was going to tell Sean he was included and that if Charles and Stéphane wanted to come out they were welcome as well. We had already arranged to use some old equipment from the rep goalie from Stéphane's team, so I was going to wait before I went and bought Jake his own set, in case this didn't work out .
When the boys came in from the school bus later in the afternoon, Dana and I greeted them but didn't pump them about too many details of their day. They said things were good and they went off to their rooms. Jake came out a few minutes later in his swimsuit and went down to the pool to swim. Sean hadn't come out after about 20 minutes so I went down to his room to see what he was doing. When I peeked in I could see he was asleep on his bed, so I let him be.
"Are you back to the land of the living, Sean?" I asked as he sat down at the table for dinner. He gave us a sleepy smile.
As Lorraine and I had done with our girls as they were growing up, I insisted on eating together when possible and talking about our day. I found that this was a good way to keep in touch with each other and talk about accomplishments and problems. Dana and I asked the boys how their classes went that day. As usual, Jake was the chatty one and Sean was more reserved. Jake was raving about his English teacher, Ms. Ellis, who I had taught with when she was just starting her career. Both boys were in the same class and as Jake excitedly went on about what they were going to study and do in the class I noticed Sean was very quiet.
"Then she found out after the class that I was your Son like Sean was. She said to say hello," Jake said.
I could see that Sean was a little uncomfortable and was hoping we would change the subject.
"Ok, young man. What's the problem?" I said as I looked at him.
I should have phrased my question differently, as I got the standard teenage answer, "Nothing."
After some probing he opened up, as he realized that if he didn't Jake was likely to fill us in.
"When she found out I was your son, she picked on me and like was asking me all these questions about the stuff she was teaching," he said with a disgusted look on his face.
"I don't think she meant to pick on you, Sean," Dana said as she tried to reassure him.
He still didn't look very happy. After some more discussion it appeared that he was really embarrassed and according to him wasn't able to answer any of her questions. Jake told us that wasn't quite true, but nonetheless Dana and I could see we would have some work to do over the semester helping him with his English class.
He was very positive about his Math class though and his teacher Mr. Robertson. We had taught together on the same staff for about 10 years and Cam was my age and hadn't retired yet. He was an excellent Math teacher and I knew that Sean and he would get along very well. Jake was also in the class and liked him, but wasn't as enthusiastic, as that wasn't his strength.
They both liked their music teacher Ted Brawn, who was according to Sean, cool. Ted was in his mid thirties, with shoulder length hair, an earring and a little tuft of hair below his lower lip. He was into jazz and rock and roll, and was one of the best music teachers in the board. Sean ended up with the trombone and Jake the tenor saxophone. Charles was also in the class and he had been given the trumpet.
I was curious as to how their Introduction to Business classes went and as I figured Sean and Mr. Gregory got along very well. I had hired John and as far as I was concerned, he was one of the best teachers I had seen in my career.
Sean was very animated and said, "We're going to learn about money and investing and business and things like that."
This time it was Jake who was a little more subdued. After some probing he said his class was Ok. Unlike Sean he went on to tell us his concerns.
"Ms. Rayner wasn't very nice to Charles though. She was picking on him cuz he got lost and came in a minute late. Then she told him he was going to get in trouble if he kept talking in class. He was just asking me what she said cuz he didn't hear her."
I could see that look in his eyes and I knew that he wasn't happy at what he saw as an injustice.
"Now look, Jake, just cool your jets. It's a long semester, so try to get along with her. You're not going to like all your teachers, but you have to learn in spite of your feelings. It's like that in life as well. You may not like all your bosses that you have in the future, but you have to do your job."
Dana then decided to change the subject and asked the boys how they liked their lunches. She had made them their favourite sandwiches and had included some cut up vegetables, fruit and dark chocolate. They said they were going to get something from the vending machines, so she hadn't packed them anything to drink.
"You might as well pack a drink tomorrow, cuz they don't have anything good in the machines," Sean said as he had a disgusted look on his face.
Apparently they thought they could get pop from the machines and that's why they told her not to include a drink with their lunches. I hadn't told them that the board had changed their policy over the summer and had eliminated pop and high sugar drinks from the schools.
"Why didn't you tell us?" Jake asked with an exasperated look.
"I didn't think it would make a difference to you two. Don't you always make good nutritional choices?" I asked as Dana and I chuckled. They weren't amused.
After we had finished dinner I told the boys that I had booked the rink for some private practice and that I would pick them up after school over the next few days. I also told them to extend the invitation to Charles and Stéphane to join us whenever they were free. They were really happy and took off upstairs to call the boys. I also figured they would go on Skype and call the girls after that, to talk about their first day of high school.
It was becoming obvious that I would need a larger vehicle to transport my new hockey team to and from the rink. I had packed my equipment along with Sean's, Charles' and Jake's gear into the Lexus for the practice after school the next day. There was barely room for the four of us, the bags and sticks. Thank goodness Stéphane and Rickie were meeting us at the rink and had taken care of their own equipment.
I had to help Jake get dressed because the coach had put on the goalie equipment for him when he had played as a young kid. He wasn't sure how some of the pieces went on.
"Wrap the toe lace through your skate blade like this, and keep the pad straps really loose. You want the pads to be able to turn and lay flat when you go down in the Butterfly position on the ice," I said.
Finally we got everything on, including his mask, and the skinny kid that came into the dressing room now looked like the Michelin man.
"Whoa, this stuff's a lot bigger than what I wore as a kid," he said as he waddled out of the dressing room.
The first turns around the ice were pretty slow as he was getting used to the goalie skates, which were a longer and flatter blade. After about five minutes of skating around we were joined on the rink by Stéphane and Rickie.
"Hey, little bros. Ready for a workout," Rickie said as he gave the boys a big smile.
I took Jake over to the one end of the rink near the net and put him through some exercises to help him get used to moving in the pads. Rickie and the boys went down to the other end to work on skills.
"This is hard," he said as he tried to get back onto his feet after he went down to his knees in the Butterfly.
"I'm sure Ryan Miller started like this too," I said as I gave him a big smile.
I wasn't worried, as I knew he was a good athlete and after about 15 minutes he was much more mobile. I showed him how to crouch, the Butterfly technique and how to hold and use his stick.
"Time to have you take some shots," I said as we moved over to the net.
I started out and took some shots, which was a little awkward as I had all my goalie equipment on. It was easier for me to demonstrate various techniques to him rather than telling him what to do. Out of ten shots, nine went in. He was having trouble coordinating everything and wasn't keeping his eye on the puck. I gave him a few more instructions and he finally got it after about ten minutes.
"Time to have the boys and Rickie shoot on you, Son," I said as I motioned them over.
The first couple of minutes were a little rough, but he finally got so he could stop most of what was being shot at him. I stood beside the net and gave him lots of feedback which he was able to put into practice without a lot of difficulty. I also demonstrated a few things for him which made it a little easier for him to grasp. After a while, Rickie was shooting some rockets at him from the blue line, and he was able to handle most of them. He had no fear, which was a big part of learning the position. He was however, having difficulty catching the puck and I thought it was due to the awkwardness of the catching glove.
"I never played baseball, so I kind of suck at catching stuff," he said as he missed the third shot in a row to his glove hand. I made a note to look for some drills to practice off-ice to help him with that.
The time went quickly and before we knew it the Zamboni was coming out to flood the ice. I was very happy as we came off the rink as I knew he was going to be a good goalie. I'm not sure why I doubted him as he was a smart kid and a good athlete.
"You'll be as good as the old man pretty soon," Rickie said to Jake as he tapped him on the rear end with his stick as we left the ice.
"I guess we go to the hockey super store tomorrow and get you outfitted," I said in the dressing room as we were packing up the equipment. He gave me a big smile.
When we got home both boys were now tired and after they devoured the snack that Dana had ready for them, they took off for their rooms and had a little snooze before dinner.
"I told you Jake would be able to handle it. I'm surprised you doubted him," Dana said with a big smile as we were having our tea after dinner.
The boys did their homework, talked to the girls and went to bed early, as both of them were very tired.
"You looked good out there today, young man," I said to Jake as I ruffled his hair as Dana and I put him to bed. He gave us a very tired smile as he rolled over and went to sleep.
The next day I picked up Jake after school to take him to get his equipment. Sean took the school bus as Stéphane and Charles were coming over to practice in the Studio.
One of my former students, who was a very talented Junior hockey goalie, waited on us. I bought all of my stuff from him as he really knew what he was talking about.
"Craig, this is my son Jake. We need a complete set of goalie equipment."
He looked at me with a puzzled look and said, "I thought you had two daughters."
"I still do, but now I also have two sons," I said with a big smile on my face as I put my arm around Jake.
I briefly explained what had happened and he looked at me as if I had two heads. I laughed and told him it was a long story that I would have to tell him some day.
"I'd like to stick with Vaughn," I said as we looked at the rows of goalie equipment.
Vaughn was one of the premier makes of goalie equipment and was what I used. When we were finished we had about $3000 of equipment including his skates and goalie stick.
"Is that guy you know still doing custom paint jobs on goalie masks?" I asked.
He said he was and I told him to keep the mask and I would email a design to him.
"I think we can put together something tonight, eh, Jake," I said as I gave him a big smile.
After dinner the boys and I sat down at the computer and booted up Photoshop to design Jake's mask. We managed to find the Buffalo Sabres logo on the internet and had that on the top and the Juventus logo on the sides. We chose the traditional Sabre colours of navy, with gold and white accents. On the chin of the mask he had his name 'Jake The Snake' written in a script writing. That was my suggestion and I explained that was the nickname of the famous Montréal Canadiens goalie Jacques Plante.
"He was as fast as a snake striking it's prey, hence the nickname. I'm sure you'll live up to that some day," I said as I smiled and patted him on the back.
The finishing touch was the number 30 on the back plate of the mask, which was Ryan Miller's number. When we were finished we emailed it to Craig and called in Dana to have a look.
"Well that certainly is fancy. I'm sure that'll help you stop all those pucks," Dana said as she gave him a big smile.
Friday, Dana and I went shopping for the boys' birthday presents. I was very pleased at what we picked out for them and I was having the store deliver the goods the next Friday. I was going to have to hide the stuff for a day, as we were celebrating their birthdays together on the Saturday.
I dropped Dana at the house and then picked up the boys after school to go to the rink. I didn't have Charles' equipment with me as Mark was picking him up and joining us. Stéphane was being dropped off by his dad. Since it was Friday the boys had their musical instruments from Music class with them, as they were taking them home for the weekend to practice. I thanked my lucky stars the Studio was soundproofed.
"I hope you don't mind, but I've got some drills mapped out that I'd like to try with the boys while you and Rickie work with Jake," Mark said as he showed me his clipboard in the dressing room as the boys got ready.
I was quite pleased that Mark was taking charge and that I was sure he would be as useful an assistant coach as Rickie was turning out to be. The drills he showed me came from a National Coaches Certification book that he had purchased. I had used most of the drills before in the past and I gave him some pointers to make them more effective.
"Just remember to give them some rest in between drills. That way they don't whine and tell you you're a slave driver," I said as I laughed.
Rickie and I took Jake to the other end of the ice and worked on some more technique. I had him do T pushes to the various parts of his crease to work on his positioning. I then had Rickie skate in front of him with the puck and had him concentrate on staying square to the shooter. We finished off with him doing some controlled Butterfly slides from side-to-side and Rickie shooting at him.
"Wow, I'm like dying, Dad. Can't we take a break?" he asked as he slowly pulled himself up off the ice after Rickie had shot the puck in the net over his catching glove.
"You know goalies don't get to go to the bench and rest during a game," I said as I smiled.
We gave him a reprieve and waited a few minutes before the others came to our end. They looked as tired as Jake as they were dragging their butts as they made their way from the other end of the ice.
"We need a rest. We had some maniac make us do all these stupid drills," Charles said as he looked at Mark.
"Well there's two maniacs down here," Jake said as he had lifted up his mask and the sweat was pouring down his face.
Rickie, Mark and I just laughed and told them to hit the water bottles and take a few minutes before we finished off with some game drills.
I was pleased with the progress of all the boys, but Jake in particular. He seemed to be catching on to the position and was much more comfortable moving around. His new equipment gave him a lot of confidence that he was well protected and he wasn't showing signs of shying away from the shots. But the most important thing for me was that all the boys were having fun, as were the coaches.
The boys had their showers and we packed up the Lexus and went home for dinner.
There were some interesting family dynamics that were evolving amongst all of us. Dana was becoming very protective of the two boys and catered and fussed over them. However, she also didn't stand for any nonsense and they certainly knew they couldn't get away with much with her.
"Giacomo! You didn't wash your hands when you came in, did you," she said as the boys started to dig into the snack she made for them after we came in from practice. "That charming smile's not going to work with me. Now off to the bathroom."
The other dynamic was between the two boys. They had been friends for years, but I was a little concerned how being brothers and living with each other would play out over the longer term. It appeared that things were working out reasonably well. They had their tiffs, which were normal amongst real siblings, but they were always able to work things out. They helped each other, particularly when they were doing their homework. Sean helped Jake with his Math and Jake helped Sean with his English. We were careful to make sure they were helping and not plagiarizing, as Dana and I checked their work and informally quizzed them after they were finished.
They also were confiding in each. I was walking by Sean's bedroom later that night and the two boys were sitting on his bed talking before they turned in. I decided to eavesdrop and the two of them were talking about some of the people in their classes, particularly the girls. Dana saw me in the hall and I put my finger up to my lips for her to be quiet as she joined me. It was quite a conversation that revolved around the girls' physical attributes. Dana didn't quite find it as amusing as I did though.
"You seemed to have had a lot of practice eavesdropping, Al. I thought mothers were the only ones that did that," Dana said as she gave me a big smile as we had tip-toed away from the room.
"Lorraine was a master at that with the girls and she taught me all she knew," I said as we laughed.
"That was quite a sexist conversation those two monkeys were having," she said as she frowned.
"Now don't tell me that girls don't talk about guys attributes too," I said as I gave her a sly grin.
After breakfast on Saturday morning, the boys went down to the studio to practice their instruments they brought home for the weekend.
"Make sure you close the doors to the Studio behind you," I said as they took off downstairs.
Even though the room was soundproofed, we could still hear some 'music', if you could call it that. Between the squeeking from Jake's saxophone and the blaring from Sean's trombone we were very glad when they were finished. However when they called us down to listen both Dana and I gave each other a pained look.
After they ran through their scales and 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' I couldn't help but give them a quick lesson on the use of their embouchures. I told them that they needed to get the muscles around their mouths stronger and gave them some exercises to try.
"And when you play a note in the third position, Sean, touch the bell with your slide fingers and you won't be off key," I said.
"Is there any instrument you don't know how to play," Sean asked with an exasperated look on his face.
I laughed and told him I had played the trombone through high school in the various bands, but I didn't know how to play the saxophone.
"Wind and brass instruments both use some of the same techniques though. I never played the saxophone, but your sisters both did and they were very good," I said as I gave them a big smile.
Thankfully they said they had practiced enough and both Dana and I heartily agreed. Dana's promise of a snack couldn't have come at a better time. After they finished I called them into the Den and I went on the internet to show them the vehicle that I wanted to purchase. It was a Lexus LX570 SUV that had room for eight people, but with a lot more cargo room than the RX350 that I already had. Jake asked if we were going to look at other makes of vehicles and I told him my preference was to stick with Lexus, as I was very satisfied with the brand.
"Wow, a hundred thousand bucks," Sean said as he looked at the list price of the vehicle on the Lexus website.
I explained that that was the list price and that I didn't intend to pay that. I then did some teaching about the art of negotiating a car deal. I went over the concept of trading in the RX350 and adding the options package to the price. I showed them the car auction pricing of the RX 350 I was able to obtain from my friend in the car business. I also explained the role the car auctions played in setting prices of used vehicles.
"Basically the price of the vehicle is determined by how much people are willing to pay for it. Naturally it's based on how reliable the vehicle brand is and styling," I said.
Shortly after that we left the house and Dana went with us. We arrived at the Lexus dealership about one o'clock in the afternoon. We didn't see an LX on the lot and we got hold of one of the salesmen. He showed us the smaller GX model that he had and we took it for a test drive. It was bigger than my RX and handled very well but was not quite as big as the LX.
He then sat down with us and went over the differences in the GX and the LX from the brochures. The boys particularly liked the LCD screens that were built into the back of the front seats in the LX. They would have their own private TVs for viewing on trips.
Dana picked out the colour schemes for the inside and outside and we started to write up the offer. I told the salesman that I expected a good price for the RX and he wrote up some figures with a small discount on the list price of the LX. When he showed us the final figures I let the boys and Dana go over them before I said anything. I leaned over and pulled out a piece of paper from the note stack on his desk and wrote down a figure and gave him the paper.
"Here's what I'm offering," I said.
He looked at it and was quite reluctant to accept it, but finally he did. He changed the figures on his quote and said he would have to show his sales manager for his approval.
"Just so we understand each other, this will be my only offer. If you think there's some doubt that it will be accepted, we need to talk about it now before we waste each other's time," I said as he was just about to get up.
While he was gone I explained to the boys that the salesman would probably come back and talk about the individual figures in the offer and try to get more money. When he returned, he had the sales manager with him. The sales manager started to tell me that the offer was much too low and zeroed in on the individual figures, particularly the price I wanted for the RX. His bottom line was more than I had offered.
Sean piped up and said, "Dad's figured that all out. Just change your figures so it works out to what he offered."
The sales manager looked at him and in a patronizing tone said, "That would mean a larger discount and more for the trade-in."
"So?" Sean said as he stared at him.
The sales manager looked at me expecting a response, but I didn't say anything. He then went on to try to explain why that was impossible.
"Maybe we should have just gone to Toronto in the first place," Jake said looking at me as he cut off the sales manager mid sentence.
"We've got lots of time to get there," Sean said as the two boys got up from their seats.
Dana was finding this quite amusing and had a big smile on her face. The sales manager and salesman however, were not, as they couldn't believe what was happening. I agreed with the boys and Dana and I got up as well. As we were walking to the parking lot the boys were ahead of us.
"Those boys learn quickly. They're going to do very well in the business world somewhere down the line," Dana said as she gave me a big smile.
Before we could leave the parking lot the salesman approached us. He told us they would accept the offer, so we went back in and wrote up the deal.
"So does this mean we go out to dinner to celebrate?" Sean asked as the two of them had big smiles on their faces as we were leaving the lot.
The boys were looking forward to the next week of school as there were a lot of fun activities planned for frosh week. They were quite upbeat as they got on the school bus on Monday morning. The school did a great job welcoming and integrating the grade 9's into the school's life.
I was down in the Foundation office about 1 pm. on Monday and going over some figures for our next meeting of the board. I got a call on my cell phone and when I looked at the number on the call display it was from the boys' school.
Vaughn Goalie Equipment
Above the crease goaltending schools. Watch the video to see some of the techniques mentioned in the chapter.