The Grey Menace loved playing cat hockey in the kitchen. So the idea was that I’d kick one of the dozens of little hi-bounce balls towards the refrigerator. He’d then move in defending the goal – the grill under the fridge. Then, with a twitch of the paw, he’d agilely deflect the ball towards me. If I didn’t kick it back, it was a point for him. If the ball went past him and under the fridge, It was my point.
The game would go on until all the balls were under the fridge or in the living room. Then the cleanup would start with me on my knees pulling out balls from under the refrigerator. It wasn’t worthwhile winning. But he knew if you were throwing a game, and would attack.
A friend asked me why the game wasn’t called cat soccer instead. My reply was that the cat was a Maple Leaf fan, and that would be blasphemy. And if they suggested it too loudly, they might find out how well the Menace could play rugby when they wound up in a scrum with him. So no, best to let it be, or they’d wind up looking very wan from the blood loss.
I had found the Menace as a scruffy kitten on Lyons Street in Ottawa on a September afternoon in 1969. Deciding that he needed a vantage point to view the skyline, he climbed to the top of my head, and while there, decided to claim the territory as his own.
We found that just about the only time the little brat seemed to come to rest was when seated in a lap watching hockey – he’d sit on your lap digging his claws in during fights. But, of course, he liked the fights, lots.
Cat hockey was the logical extension after that. And the fights that would entail when he decided that you were cheating. The gloves would come off, and out he’d come from the goal screaming for blood.
Much to his disappointment, he never got scouted. But he would have been choosey anyway. So, yes, to any offer from the Maple Leafs, Maybe to Detroit and playing with Gordy Howe. But being that he lived in Boston, the Bruins would do.