Letters from Smitty: The Baby Hawk


Thank Heavens!  My apparently Slovenian captors have finally acquiesced to my repeated requests to write to you.  They weren’t exactly generous with the office supplies unfortunately so I am scrawling my message to you on the back of a cardboard box with  some skeletal component of a deceased rat.  You may be inquiring to yourself, “What kind of pickle does Alan find himself in now?”  I do acknowledge the fact that I seem to always write to you with tales of my own precarious situations.  In my defense though, you surely cannot hold me accountable for last week’s escapades!  I understand now that when one aims to overthrow the President of one’s local Bocce Ball club, then one is practically begging for trouble.  Although I found his administrative decisions to lean fascist (moving league nights to Wednesdays, etc), I recognize now that my para-military style coup was not the appropriate response.  An easier path would have been to poison him or at the very least tell him that I have Zumba on Wednesday nights and thus a conflict.  But that is old news.  After all it is not possible to move forward while you are looking backwards.  Unless of course, you’re an ostrich.  I suspect that you were not, however, some questions about this remain unanswered.

My dilemma is as follows: while on the third leg of my hyper-ultra-marathon from my home in Sheridan, WY to Rock Springs, WY; I ran out of water somewhere near the Pathfinder National Wildlife Refuge.  Having been in situations not unlike these before, I knew that I either had to find a succulent plant from which I could extract enough water to fill up my canteen or find a Valero gas station that sold Glacier Freeze Gatorade.  I opted for the former and in my search in the wild for water, I befriended an old red-tailed hawk.  Perhaps it was the dehydration talking but, god damn it if this wasn’t the funniest SOB I’ve ever met.  He had story after story, mostly from his time as a day laborer on a landscaping crew.  If you ever meet this majestic bird, ask him to tell you the story of when his foreman fell asleep in a french drain.  It is truly a bawdy yarn.

This hawk must have really worked his charms on me because later that night, as we were running low on cocaine, he formulated a half-baked plan to knock off a Slovenian fraternal hall over in Rock Springs.  He knew a bartender who worked there and apparently they closed out most nights with a few hundred in cash.

That brings us to the present.  As you can imagine, the “heist” didn’t go as smoothly as planned.  I’m fairly certain that they killed the hawk.  I’ve been in what appears to be some type of custodian’s closet for at least three days.

It’s hard to decipher because of the language barrier, but I believe they’re debating on what to do with me.  If you could either notify the local police or activate my self-destruct button remotely, it would be appreciated.


Alan “Smitty” Gibbons


Being a Fleury Guy

How is it possible that I don’t love Matt Murray?  How is it possible that I, a Penguins fan, only somewhat like the goalie that pitched two shut-out games to win the Penguins fifth Stanley Cup?  How is it possible that I am only lukewarm on a young player with a future that will likely portend a Hall of Fame career with my hometown team?  What is preventing me from wanting to go all in on Matt Murray?

I’m afraid I’m just a Fleury guy.

I’ll preface this by saying that treating two NHL goalies like they are warring factions of hot vampires in a Twilight movie is dumb at best.  Picking sides is best reserved for games of Red Rover.  After all is said and done, someone’s leaving with a dislocated shoulder.

The team is to be held above all else.  The logo is what we want to succeed.  The shield, the crest, the symbol of a collective of which we are associated by being born in a hospital with a (412) area code.  The group is important.  The lines of individuality are to be blurred in order to produce winners in sports and life.  Yet, I don’t care about the team.  I care about Fluery.  For he is me.  He is all of us.

As a somewhat hyperbolic person who could find symbolism in a old sock, it has become clear to me that the reason we cling to a man who has become a back-up goaltender, is that he represents the unfair passing of our time on Earth.

In 2015 he was having a career year, until a fluke injury before the playoffs put him on the bench.  In stepped Matt Murray, the new model.  As Fleury healed, Matt Murray flourished.  He all but led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup victory.  And as soon as Fluery was ready to go, the team had already moved on.  It is this that we Fleury fans are truly upset about.

You can lie to yourself and say that you think Fleury is a better goalie or that you liked his UPMC commercials.  But the real reason you don’t want Fleury to go, the reason that sits a few layers below the reason you say out loud, is that you don’t want to go.   We are not upset at Matt Murray.  We are not upset at coaches or Penguins Front Office.  We are upset that this life is somehow allowed to eat the orange and throw away the peel.

I’m a Fleury guy because I don’t want life to happen to us this way.  Through pure circumstance, to lose our spot on the team.  We know the day is coming that we will be relegated to the bench.  Or worse, cut.  Fate is unfair; Time is inequitable.  Yet Fate is inevitable; Time is natural.  And they are both happening to us right this very moment.

Even as we lace up our skates and go through our daily routines, we can all see that young goalie sitting on the bench, waiting to seize his opportunity and send us off to some Golden City in a wasteland far away.

I can accept that life is thus.  But I don’t have to like it.

That is why I’m a Fleury guy.


TL;DR – Marc Andre Fleury symbolizes your life.  Matt Murray symbolizes time.  Las Vegas represents Hell, I guess.  The  crease…represents something too…