("A Message From Gary Bettman" flashes across the screen. Happy muzak plays, cartoon bunnies frolic beneath the text. A smiley sun beams down on them from above. Fade up on...)
BETTMAN (sitting at a desk, wearing a suit and a "Versus" cap. He speaks in an ingratiating singsong voice): Hi there, friends! Please, relax! I've brought a present. You see, we at the NHL understand the recent frustrations of our fans. And by that I mean... you have no reasons to be frustrated whatsoever! Revenues are up tenfold, you know! (He points offscreen, and the camera pans to reveal a chart evidently drawn in crayon, with a red "revenues" bar spiking up and off the chart)
But still, there have been some complaints out there that we don't do enough to market our star players. Now let me assure you all that the NHL's crack team of marketing geniuses is doing everything it can to ensure that all of our game's top talents receive exposure throughout North America. Some of our recent polls indicate that Americans were absolutely thrilled to see Joe Thornton buttering toast and Peter Forsberg lounging on people's beds this past winter.
So, encouraged by that smashing success, we've decided to take things to the next level. Our good friend Jerry Bruckheimer has helped to produce the film you're about to see, one that showcases one of the NHL's brightest young stars. I hope you enjoy the movie! Oh yes, and look out for the Las Vegas Jackpots, coming at you in 2012! (Waves a little pennant with a purple, stylized "LV" logo on it).
(Opening titles: "Captain Crosby and the Penguins of Tomorrow," executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Dramatic lighting effects on text, a booming orchestral score plays, etc.)
(Fade up on wide shot of the Pittsburgh skyline).
NARRATOR: Pittsburgh. A city forged on a foundation of steel, hard work, and professional sports. For years, this blue collar American city has loyally supported its three beloved pro teams: the Steelers, the Pirates, and the Penguins. The most troubled of these three franchises, the Penguins had almost left town on several occasions, only to be saved time and again by the efforts of the legendary Mario Lemieux. With a recent deal to replace the team' s crumbling old arena, and an exciting young squad of players ready to hit the ice for a new season, things appeared to be looking up for hockey in the Steel City.
(Throughout this speech, we see various shots of Pittsburgh, its landmarks, etc. Final shot is on a hill overlooking the city).
NARRATOR: Until one day, when a new threat emerged, the greatest the Penguins franchise... and the NHL... had ever faced.
(A mechanical leg ominously smashes into the foreground, tearing into the ground just in front of the camera. Scary music plays).
NARRATOR: It would be a few days, however, before the city's defenders began to notice...
(Fade up on RYAN WHITNEY - get it? Defenders? - holding the puck behind his own net, which is manned by MARC-ANDRE FLEURY. WHITNEY is looking around, as if trying to read the play ahead, but looks very confused).
WHITNEY: Something's not right, here...
FLEURY: Tell me about it! Jersey's playing the trap again...
(Cut to shot looking down the ice, where five Devils stand in a row at the far blueline. They appear to be miles away).
WHITNEY: No, not that. Look in the stands!
(FLEURY glances about. We see several shots of completely empty seats. The arena is deserted. Finally there's a shot of a DEVILS FAN sitting isolated amidst the desolation)
DEVILS FAN (doing the goalie chant) : Fleeeeeuuuu-rrrreeee! Fleeeeeuuuu-rrrreeee!
(Return to shot of a singular tear rolling down Fleury's cheek behind his mask)
FLEURY (sniffling, whispering to self): If only they knew how deeply their careless words could cut...
WHITNEY (not noticing): I mean, I'd expect this at the Meadowlands, but not here! What could've happened to...?
VOICE (from off-screen): Ryan!
WHITNEY: Huh? (Turns his head)
(From WHITNEY's p.o.v., we see SIDNEY CROSBY skating up. He is bathed in a blinding white light, and a choir sings rapturously in the background. Two hockey-helmeted cherubs are adorning him with wreaths of flowers as he skates. WHITNEY is understandably awestruck.)
CROSBY (trying to snap him out of it): Ryan!
WHITNEY (shaking off his wonderment): Uh, yeah! Sid!
(CROSBY skates into frame behind the net. The cherubs are gone, but he still has the wreaths of flowers around his neck, which he disinterestedly removes and tosses aside).
CROSBY: We've got to break this trap, Ryan!
WHITNEY (still preoccupied by the empty arena): Right... but have you seen today's attendance? The Igloo's deserted!
FLEURY (spoken in the background during this exchange): Did you see those cherubs...?
CROSBY: I know, Ryan... I fear something foul is afoot in our fair city. But we can't let that distract us. (Placing a hand on his shoulder) Right now, we can only control what happens on the ice. We need to dig down, stick to our gameplan, get some bounces to go our way, take it one game at a time, and try to get two points out of here tonight!
WHITNEY (Refocused, he nods sharply): Right!
CROSBY: Okay... now I'm going to need a breakout pass from you. But not until I call for it, got me? Not a moment before!
WHITNEY: Sure thing, Sid!
CROSBY: Okay, let's do this...
(CROSBY skates away... to the bench?)
WHITNEY: What's he doing...?
FLEURY (sagely): It is all a part of his broader plan for us all...
(Cut to shot of LOU LAMORIELLO watching from behind his bench)
LOU (looking and sounding strangely like Donald Trump): Okay, Crosby's leaving the ice. (Calling to the ice) Madden! Get your line off of there! (To self) Let's see... who to send out next...
(CAM JANSSEN is sitting nearby)
JANSSEN: Boss, boss! Lemme out there! I'll show these little punks what real hockey is!
LOU (still considering his lines): Uhhh...
JANSSEN: I'll crush these pipsqueaks back into the last century! I'll make 'em bleed Devils' red, boss! I'll murderlize 'em! I'll...
LOU (flustered): Shut up, Janssen! I made you, and I can destroy you! (Fumbling through his pockets) Now... does anyone here have Claude Julien's number?
(Shot of Crosby watching expectantly from the Penguins' bench, waiting for the Madden line to leave the ice. MICHEL THERRIEN stands pensively behind him. Dramatic music plays.)
THERRIEN: This had better work, Sid...
CROSBY: You've got to take risks to beat the trap, coach... (Music swells)
THERRIEN: There! Madden's off!
(CROSBY hops back over the boards and takes off, full speed)
LOU: (Staring at a pad of paper, pen and hand) Okay, so it's 555-631...
JANSSEN: Boss! Crosby's back on the ice!
LOU: (glancing up in shock) What?!
JANSSEN: Don't worry, boss! I've got this one!
JANSSEN (leaps over the bench, with a glorious war cry): CAAAAAAMMMM JAAAAANNNNSSSSSEEEEEENNNN!
(Shot of Crosby blowing down the ice)
CROSBY (calling back over his shoulder): Ryan! Now!
WHITNEY: Special delivery! (Cue obligatory Matrix-style shot as WHITNEY blasts the puck up to Sid in 360 degree slow motion. CROSBY now barrels in on MARTIN BRODEUR and two defensemen, who are standing right in front of the net).
BRODEUR: Oh no... don't tell me that Lou stuck me back here with two AHLers again! (Shot of his defensemen's backs, with the numbers "0" and "-3" stitched onto their jerseys). Dammit... guys... uh... just take a penalty here, okay?
DEFENSEMAN #0: Okay, Marty!
(The two skate ahead to engage CROSBY at the blueline. DEFENSEMAN #0 takes a wild slash at CROSBY. CROSBY ducks beneath it, squirts the puck between the defender's legs, and pushes on. DEFENSEMAN #-3 charges at him, elbow-first. CROSBY makes a nifty spin-o-rama, and #-3 collides with #0, who was just turning around to pursue).
(CROSBY skates in alone on BRODEUR's blocker side, sizing the netminder up. Dramatic slow-motion shots of the two players as they face off. Morricone-style spaghetti western music plays. This sequence is shattered by a wild shout from off-camera):
CROSBY (glances over his shoulder, sees JANSSEN coming for his head): Uh-oh...
VOICE (off-camera): Sid!
(Screen now goes to Crosby-Vision - patent pending. Everything's soft-lit and kind of mystical looking. Things move slower, and all sound is eerily distorted. The camera turns from the oncoming JANSSEN, whose progress has been slowed to a crawl, to another Penguins player crossing the Devils' blueline at the opposite wing. It's EVGENI MALKIN, and a little graphical display pops up in Crosby-Vision with his vitals. A dotted line projects from CROSBY to just ahead of MALKIN, indicating the perfect passing lane.)
(Close-up shot of CROSBY's mouth curling into a grin.)
(MS, still in Crosby-Vision slow-mo, of CROSBY with JANSSEN closing in from behind him. CROSBY flicks a hard pass, and suddenly things snap back to normal speed. CROSBY ducks at the last moment, and JANSSEN, unable to stop, hurtles over him and goes flying into the endboards, head-first)
(The puck reaches MALKIN, and he one-times it into the top corner, just over Brodeur's outstretched glove)
(Shot of red goal light going on)
(The lone DEVILS FAN hangs his head in disgust)
JANSSEN (lying upside down in a heap, his neck twisted at an awkward angle. He speaks in a strained gurgle): Thaaat's... three-to-four weeks on the IR...
LOU (calling from the bench): Janssen!
JANSSEN (still gurgling): Yeah, boss...?
LOU (close-up of him doing the "Trump gesture" ): You're fired!
JANSSEN: Awww fiddlesticks...
(CROSBY, MALKIN, WHITNEY celebrate. Shot of Penguins scoreboard.)
ANNOUNCER: The play is under review...
(Shot of CROSBY, putting on his "whining face" and raising his arms in bewilderment).
CROSBY: Come on, now!
(Cut to Versus announcer booth, with DOC EMRICK and EDDIE OLCZYK. Their names appear on the bottom of the screen, with EDDIE's surname spelled "OLCZYZCHICK" )
DOC: Now keep in mind ladies and gentleman, there has to be conclusive evidence that the puck completely crosses the goal line. Looking at our replay here... (Cut to shot over FLEURY's shoulder from the opposite end of the ice. One can distantly make out the play as it unfolds). Well... um... I can't tell what they're looking at on this one.
OLCZYK: Was his stick above the crossbar?
DOC: No, Eddie... I don't think so.
OLCZYK: Maybe he kicked it in!
DOC: No, I don't think... guys? Could we get a better angle on this one? (The play is re-shown from various angles, all extremely far away from the action)
OLCZYK: No, I think Malkin kicked it in! See here... (circling MALKIN's foot with his yellow sketch pen). His foot was definitely moving forward.
DOC: He was skating, Eddie.
OLCZYK: That's a distinct kicking motion, if you ask me.
DOC (exasperated): Seriously! Are these all the camera angles we have?
OLCZYK (excitedly): Oh wait! Maybe the net came off its moorings!
(Return to shot of Crosby, stewing on the bench, waiting for the review to end. Suddenly one of the refs turns back from the phone and skates directly to the Pittsburgh bench).
CROSBY (leaps up, furious): So what is it, huh? Goal or no goal?!
REFEREE: The guys in Toronto want to talk to you, Crosby.
CROSBY: Talk to me? But what about the goal?
REFEREE (sounding desperate): This is about something bigger than one goal, Crosby. If what they say is true... (choking back his fear) this is bigger than all of us...
(Moved by the referee's sincerity, CROSBY hops over the boards and skates over to the phone at the opposite end of the ice. He picks up the receiver. Shot holds on CROSBY's face, gradually zooming in. We only hear his end of the conversation.)
CROSBY: Yeah? What's up? ... (frowns) Outside? (pause, the color drains from his face. His expression grows grim). How many? (a long pause) Okay. Okay, I'll do what I can. (he hangs up, and skates back to the Penguins' bench, his face ashen).
(A group of teammates crowds around him, including WHITNEY, MALKIN and JORDAN STAAL)
STAAL: What's happenin', Cap'n?
CROSBY (shakes his head): Something bad. Something I've gotta go handle.
WHITNEY (intensely): It's got something to do with all those empty seats out there, doesn't it Sid?
CROSBY: I can't tell you guys. Don't worry about it. I'm going to head off and settle it.
MALKIN: Settle what?
STAAL (overlapping): Let us come with you!
CROSBY: No! You guys have to finish the game. We've still got half a period left to play. Protect that lead! (He starts to head for the walkway leading back to the locker room)
(CROSBY stops and turns, almost down the tunnel)
WHITNEY (frustrated): You know... just because you're the captain... and the superstar and everything... doesn't mean you can just go off and do whatever... you know?! This is a team sport, Sid. We live or die as a team, right?
CROSBY (steely-eyed): Finish the game, Ryan.
WHITNEY: But Sid...!
CROSBY (forcefully): Finish the game, Ryan!
WHITNEY (bites his lip. There is a pause): Yeah, okay.
(CROSBY nods, then hurries off down the runway. Shot of WHITNEY and the others turning back dejectedly to the game, before we're back in the tunnel with CROSBY, who's racing to the dressing room. Heart-pounding sound effects. Once in the dressing room, CROSBY sits down on a bench, practically tears off his skates, and then reaches in a little cubby under his locker. He produces a pair of dark metallic skates, labeled with a tag that says "Crosby's special blades. Don't touch!" He puts them on. He hurries off to a separate hallway, then ducks into a side door labeled "authorized personnel only." )
(He's standing at the end of what looks like an underground airport runway, bordered with flashing red and yellow lights. The Penguins logo decorates the walls. CROSBY steps onto the track, fastening his helmet on tight. He takes a deep breath.)
CROSBY: Here goes... Penguin Power, activate! (Miniature propulsion rockets fire out the back of his skates, and he goes whizzing off down the runway. Batman-esque music plays.)
(Exterior shot of Mellon Arena. A trapdoor opens in the side of the building, and out flies CROSBY, from about two stories high. His rocket skates smash into the ground when he lands, and he skates off, carving trails in the asphalt as he goes. The camera follows him as he goes, just over the shoulder. On the horizon, we can see thick plumes of smoke rising to the sky. Eventually, a huge crowd on the fringes of Mellon Arena's property comes into view. Thousands of people, stand beside a bonfire. They all face in the same direction: towards a massive stage upon which a singular figure stands, waving a large American flag. He's middle-aged, bearded, and wears a polo shirt and khaki pants. Behind him, a towering hypno-wheel spins. The man leads the crowd in a call-and-response chant):
"Hockey is soccer on ice!"
"Hockey is an un-American sport!"
"Hockey is for drunk Canucks!"
CROSBY (nearing the scene): Penguin Power, off! (The rockets go off, and he brakes to a halt, sending gravel flying like snow on a sheet of ice).
(He stares at the crowd in disbelief.)
CROSBY: Then it's true...
(His gaze focuses now on the leader. Gradually the camera zooms in on the man on stage. A shot of CROSBY's face contorting in shock as he realizes who it is.)
(Shot of CROSBY's back. He turns around quickly, clenching both his fists, and looks just off camera)
(End Part 1).
Hate cliffhangers? Read <a href='http://my.hockeybuzz.com/blog.php?user_id=30073&post_id=2251'>Part 2</a> now!