There is more about ice hockey in the novel In A Spin than there is about figure-skating and that is because two of the central characters, Henry and Max, are drawn together by their shared love of the game, even though, as the reader eventually discovers, there is a lot more that Henry is up to than just coaching hockey! The following is an excerpt from In A Spin that illustrates the place of hockey in the story:
“Max just liked the idea of having the arena there as a place to stop when he was out walking, a place to observe the rhythm of Bradbury through the seasons. Slight of build and a little uncoordinated, he wasn’t much of an athlete himself, but he got a kick out of watching sports, especially hockey, and particularly amateurs. Young kids for whom end-to-end rushes were tortuous marathons that ended spilling head first into the net or boards, sticks flailing. Overweight, sweating has-beens at midnight, risking death for the elixir of competition, oh so much more satisfying than their day jobs. He loved the dingy atmosphere, the almost-empty late-night stands, the echoing clap of seats, the chipped paint, the fog that often lingered above the ice like the ghosts of departed stars, the pennants hanging from the bare rafters, the slashes in the ice where blades had bit into the vanilla sherbet surface, the clock, the buzzer, the expectancy….
“Even after his playing days, Henry was always spatially attuned. A good coach, he knew, had to be. It was central to the job. At the bench, on the sideline, in the locker room, it was all about those x’s and o’s and the quickly traced lines connecting them. All about being in the slot, the circle, the centre, the crease, the corner, at the line, at the point, the post, on the wing, along the boards, behind the net at the right time. But Henry carried that habit with him away from the ice rink….Oddly for a defenceman, when Henry was in his back yard looking out at his pool, he saw things the way a forward would, a guy playing centre ice….But….while positionally he surveyed his backyard surroundings offensively, mentally he was, nevertheless, on defence. That was doubtless a result of all his years playing hockey. He wasn’t Bobby Orr after all. He rarely strayed past centre ice. More often he was at the blue line pinching an opposing forward between himself and his defensive partner, or in a corner pinning someone to the boards. To Henry, good defence was the most critical component of the game.
“It wasn’t just his hockey instincts, however, that led him to survey his home surroundings the way he did. Henry had something to hide, and people concealing something are always on defence, always on the lookout for peering eyes that might catch them unaware, always making sure that nothing is out of place, nothing odd is inadvertently left somewhere that might arouse suspicion. For Henry, defence was a natural, but even if it hadn’t been, he had good reason to think defensively with his neighbours.”