Friday, June 3, 2011

v2, d351: Clayts

Sorry, gang.  My internal clock is all out of whack.  I slept for like 10 hours last night, which is good, but I'd like to know if falling asleep at 9:30 is going to become a fairly regular thing so I can either start blogging earlier or quit forever :-)

Today has had a nice start. Woke up feeling totally rested for the first time in who knows how long and had a pleasant walk to work.  Yesterday was pretty much hot and terrible.  Today there was a bit of cloud cover and the breeze was to my face instead of to my back.  (Breeze to the front = bad for running, nice for walking) 

Anyway, today's blog is to commemorate something that I should have caught when it happened sometime last week: the Bossier City-Shreveport Mudbugs won the Central Hockey League championship in Colorado. 

Yes, there is a hockey team called the Mudbugs. I'd say "Only in the CHL," but you folks should see what the Southern Pro league cooks up! 

On the one hand, it seems a surprise that this is the 'Bugs first CHL title, because as I can remember they've had a lot of really good teams and they've probably had the best goalie in the league for much of the last decade.  Plus, their coach has been outstanding.  There were a few bitter playoff battles between the Thunder and the Mudbugs back when I was in college, which is why, when 10-year Thunder all-star Travis Clayton signed with BCS three years ago, it was kind of a bitter pill to swallow.  Apparently, the Thunder hadn't re-signed him before the first day of free agency, so Clayts took that as a slight and bolted at the very first opportunity.  I sort of disowned the guy at that point.  The next two years turned out to be the two worst years in Thunder history--which is really saying something, because we had some bad years back before I left the Midwest!

For ten full seasons, the two names synonymous with Thunder hockey were Jason Duda and Travis Clayton.  Duda "The Blazer Killer" is still involved with the organization as an assistant coach.  I'm pretty bummed he's yet to win it all.  Wichita hockey never had a finer ambassador, a greater competitor, or a more prolific scorer. But Travis Clayton came close in every one of those categories.  If Duda was the steadying presence, Clayton was the emotional fire.  He was a bit wilder and flashier, but these two guys could flat out score. It was Duda's hands and Clayton's speed.  It felt like they'd both be Thunder forever (which is why it was a shock when #38 left town).  But nothing is forever in sports, and the dynamic duo did eventually break up.  In retrospect, you couldn't really blame Clayts for going elsewhere, not with the direction the team was taking at that point.  Duda will sill always be the good son for staying, but I really can't stay mad at the other guy who filled a full third of my life (to this point) with countless minor-league hockey memories.  Still, when I learned Bossier had finally captured the (Miron) Cup, it didn't automatically click in my mind that it meant a title for Clayton.  I finally figured it out yesterday, and so today I'm dedicating my little corner of the Internet to honor #38 in Thunder blue (and whatever number he wore in Mardi Gras colors): fittingly, going out a champion.