Slight speedsters like the Kid may no longer have to fear being crushed into the fencing by notorious gameshow host gone bad, Wink, as the fellow founding father ponders his future in Sunday Morning Road Hockey.

Pre-season special report
Wink ponders end

Founding father finding it hard to get excited for new season

by Jay Suburb

On the eve of Sunday Morning Road Hockey's 12th training camp, one of the game's original founding fathers is wondering whether he'll be there.

Notorious gameshow host gone bad, Wink, says his off-season has been one of contemplation, including his future in the game he's helped build.

"It's definitely been something that's been on my mind," says Wink, who, along with the Living Legend, is one of the game's last remaining players from its formative season at the old tennis courts. "I know I can't play road hockey forever."

The veteran roadster says the bitter aftertaste of defeat in last Spring's Stanley Stick Championship still lingers.

"I think if I ran into Paul One in the street, I'd run him over in my car."

But mostly, he says he misses the camaraderie and rivalry of the players he came up with, many of them now retired.

"A lot of the guys that I started out with, and looked forward to seeing every week, are gone, the Henchmans and the Hollywoods," says Wink. "Part of the fun of road hockey is getting together with that group of guys that you wouldn't normally see, and I don't know if there's guys now that I'd miss if I didn't come."

In recent seasons the league has lost a number of its veteran players to family commitments, work conflicts and various unsanctioned sports, beginning with the shocking retirement two years ago of Sunday Morning's most colorful and enigmatic personality, goaltending stalwart Wawrow. He left to pursue professional opportunities in another city. Since then, other longtime players Sniper Dave, Lumberjack, Sexboy, Hollywood and the Whirling Dervish have also retreated to the sidelines. Veteran slapshooter, Guy Called Mike, is doubtful for the new campaign after missing the last three months of last season with injuries and family commitments. And senior shotstopper, Lobsterboy, has already announced he'll be unavailable for much of the new season's first few months.

But despite the demise of much of the game's core group of veterans, last season was one of Sunday Morning's most successful, as a new generation of fit and skillful rookies embraced the evil orange plastic ball.

With rookie roadsters like Billy Idol, Elvis, Beetle Boy, Ottoman and Pig Farming Goalie proving their commitment, playing in all kinds of weather, the league has never been healthier. And that's opened the door to his possible exit, says Wink.

"I don't think there's any untouchables. I think part of the fascination with road hockey, and one of the reasons it's worked so well over the years, is because everyone is equal."

Wink says he won't make a firm decision on starting his 12th season until his alarm clock goes off Sunday morning.

"You sorta look at your other options for Sunday morning," says the veteran defender. "I'm taking a wait-and-see approach. I'll wait and see how I feel, wait and see what time I get up Sunday morning."

Despite his lingering anger over the result of last Spring's Stanley Stick Championship, and some of the trash talking histrionics that ignited the series, Wink said if he does answer the call to the court on Sunday, his fellow roadsters can expect a kinder, gentler gameshow host gone bad.
Once the league's most feared goon, who consistently crushed more diminutive opponents into the steel fencing that surrounds the hockey courts, Wink said he's mellowed in recent seasons, partly out of self-preservation, and partly because of the game's renaissance of skill and speed.
"I just don't have to play as rough as I used to," said Wink. "I don't think a lot of the hack and whack guys come out very regularly anymore."

While Wink ponders his future in the game, another veteran, Lobsterboy, announced he'll be at Sunday's training camp but then travel commitments to his global scouting missions will keep him from the courts until the new year.

Sunday's training camp will be the only pre-season game before Sunday Morning Road Hockey's official season begins the following week. As always, gametime is 10:30 AM.