So here it is, long-delayed and much fussed-over, the sequel to "Captain Crosby and the Penguins of Tomorrow." As an author's note, I'd like to thank everyone who's contributed a kind word or link to the first entry, including Seth Rorabaugh over at <a href='http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/emptynetters/'>Empty Netters</a>.
For the uninitiated, please read <a href='http://my.hockeybuzz.com/blog.php?user_id=30073&post_id=2021'>the first part of the script</a> first.
Comments, as always, are welcome.
(Wide shot of CROSBY carefully wading into the zombified crowd. They are still chanting anti-hockey slogans, which are steadily becoming more ludicrous: "Hockey is the leading cause of juvenile delinquency in America today!" "Hitler was a hockey fan!" Frontal shot of CROSBY's confused expression as he approaches the bonfire at the center of the mob. We see his face bathed in the warm glow of the flames, and watch as it contorts into a look of horror and disgust. A panning shot reveals that the bonfire is constructed entirely of Penguins merchandise: jerseys, t-shirts, hats, hockey cards, pucks, and so on. The pan ends on a Penguins logo shirt disintegrating in the flames. Close-up shot of enraged tears welling up in CROSBY's eyes.)
(He turns away suddenly, vomiting all over a fan - who doesn't react at all. Composing himself, CROSBY rises to his full height and turns his gaze to the flag-waving KORNHEISER. He is filled with righteous fury as he begins a steady march through the crowd. Once he is close enough to the stage, he calls out: )
KORNHEISER (lowering his American flag and squinting into the crowd): Well, well! If it isn't our C-level superstar, Sidney Crosby! (Spotlights positioned all around the stage fire to life, momentarily blinding CROSBY). Hey Sid, how's that clothing line of yours doing? Really flying off the shelves in Moose Jaw, I'll bet!
CROSBY (shielding his eyes from the glare): What is this all about?
KORNHEISER: Well, I was just in town for the Steelers game on Monday night, and thought I'd pay your little Igloo a courtesy visit. Don't you like how I've fired up your fans?
CROSBY: Fired up?! You've brainwashed them!
KORNHEISER: Brainwashed! That's a strong word, Sidney. I'd prefer to think that I've convinced them of what they already knew to be true. C'mon, now! Even from inside that protective bubble they've placed you in, you must know how crappy the NHL's TV ratings are. The sport has no future in America. It's dead. You might as well forget about that new arena of yours - make way for a NASCAR track, instead!
CROSBY: You can't just declare an entire sport dead, Kornheiser! Have you ever been to Mellon Arena on opening night? Or have you ever tried to hear yourself think over the noise at Joe Louis Arena? Have you seen the Carolinians in their Commodore bathrobes? Or the Nashvillians rallying to keep their team in town? Have you been to the youth hockey organizations all across America, and seen the love for the game that all of those kids have? Well, I have! And I can tell you that hockey is alive and well in this country, for now and for the future!
KORNHEISER (pretending to wipe away a tear): Why, Sidney! I'm touched.
CROSBY (daring to believe him): Really?
KORNHEISER (thinks for a moment) ... No. (Points at CROSBY). Grab him!
(A host of zombie fans latch on to CROSBY. They act thoughtlessly, without any malice or intensity).
CROSBY (glaring at KORNHEISER, making no move to dislodge the zombie fans): I'm warning you, Kornheiser. You don't want to start with me. Say what you want about me as a player - but I'm not going to let you tear down my sport like this.
KORNHEISER: Kid, I've been at this since you were watching Gretzky in your diapers. Don't tell me what I can and can't do! I don't know what kind of laws you have in that backwards Canadaland of yours, but here in America we have a little something called the First Amendment!
CROSBY: Yeah? Well from what I hear, you're also allowed a fair trial in America. And you're not giving hockey its due process. But I can fix that.
KORNHEISER: And how, exactly, do you plan to do that?
CROSBY (grinning in amusement): It's a little something I like to call... Penguin Power, activate! (His rocket skates flare to life, and CROSBY flies through the crowd, dislodging the fans who were holding onto him. But rather than making a direct line for the stage, CROSBY breaks off to the right, skating off through the startled crowd and into open space.)
KORNHEISER (shocked... he didn't bank on Penguin Power): Well?! Don't just stand there, you plebeians! After him!
(Without hesitation, the thousands of fans mobilize en masse and stampede after CROSBY. CROSBY looks over his shoulder and sees the tidal wave of humanity coming after him.)
CROSBY: That hypno-wheel must have a limited range. If I can get these fans far enough away from it, they should return to their senses!
(CROSBY has the speed advantage, but the crowd has power in numbers. They're spreading out all over the parking lot, fencing in CROSBY and confining him to the Mellon Arena grounds. Some fans are hopping into their cars to pursue. While CROSBY tries to navigate the labyrinth of parked cars surrounding the arena, his pursuers are gaining on him. Suddenly, CROSBY spots a group of police officers arriving on the scene on motorcycles. Relieved, he approaches them and deactivates his skates).
CROSBY (speaking to the lead cop): Officer! Thank goodness you're here. Tony Kornheiser is on a rampage! But if we work together, we can...
COP (pulling out his baton, speaking in a cold monotone): Just come along with us, Mr. Crosby. We'll get this all straightened out.
CROSBY (shaking his head in horror): He's gotten to you too, hasn't he?
COP (stepping off his motorcycle, holding the baton menacingly): Just come along with us.
CROSBY: Sorry officer, but... (The COP takes a swing at CROSBY, who parries the baton with his stick and then smacks the cop hard on the helmet, sending the man spilling to the pavement) ... I've still got some work to do here. Penguin Power, activate! (By now, the mob has caught up with CROSBY, and he has to deke around a dozen zombie fans like so many Derian Hatchers as he flees the cops. The officers rev up their motorcycles and take the lead in pursuing CROSBY.)
(CROSBY is somehow weaving through the chaotic Mellon Arena parking lot, dodging moving cars and shoving off zombies left and right. He hops over an improvised barricade of automobiles and once again appears to be in the clear, flying down an open lane between parked cars with no pursuers in sight. But suddenly three motorcycle-riding cops appear at the end of the lane. CROSBY skids to a halt, and the cops charge right at him. Thinking quickly, CROSBY hacks the rearview mirror off of the side of a nearby car. He shepherds it with his stick as he would a puck, eyeing the lead motorcycle as it approaches. CROSBY winds up, and shoots the mirror right at the front wheel of the lead motorcycle cop. The improvised puck hits dead on, causing the motorcycle to skid out of control. The two cops riding behind crash into their leader, and all three motorcycles are soon out of commission.)
CROSBY (admiring his work): Just like picking the five-hole...
(The reprieve, however, is short-lived. Another three motorcycle cops come roaring over the barricade of cars just behind CROSBY, and it's off to the races again. CROSBY makes a sharp right at the end of the lane, heading back toward Mellon Arena. Just ahead, a conveniently-placed car carrier sits just in front of the Igloo, with its loading ramp lowered. Close-up shot of CROSBY's eyes widening. He glances over his shoulder, seeing the army of zombie fans closing off all other escape routes, and the three motorcycle cops hot on his tail.)
CROSBY: Finally, it gets interesting...
(CROSBY braces himself, and then goes rocketing up the ramp, through the air, and onto the metal dome covering the Igloo. The three cops follow. A bravura, spectacle-laden chase sequence ensues atop the arena.)
(Cut back to inside the deserted arena, where the Penguins and Devils are still playing. The sounds of the motorcycles and CROSBY's rocket-powered skating echo throughout the eerily silent stadium).
RYAN WHITNEY (staring up at the ceiling as he sits on the Penguins' bench): Dammit! (Turns to JORDAN STAAL, who's sitting next to him on the bench). Something's going on outside, I just know it! Sid's out there hogging all the glory while we're stuck in here playing dump-and-chase with the New Jersey Boredoms.
STAAL: Well... are you just gonna sit there whining about it, or are you gonna get up and do something?
WHITNEY: Gronk, you're a total bastard. But you're right. (Glances up at the scoreboard. Two-and-a-half minutes remain in the third period). Hmm... well, there's only one way for me to get out of the rest of this game and still save some face. Where's that Janssen puke?
STAAL: My damage estimate on him would be three fractured vertebrae. He's not coming back on the ice tonight.
WHITNEY: So... trainer's room?
(WHITNEY waits for his next shift, then hops on the ice, skates a few feet over to the New Jersey bench, and leaps over the boards. He shoves past the New Jersey players, with a muttered "Excuse me!" as he heads off down the New Jersey tunnel to their locker area.)
(LOU LAMORIELLO watches this display in shock.)
LOU (calling to the nearest referee on the ice): Ref!
REFEREE (glancing over): Eh?
LOU: One of those dirty Penguins is infiltrating my dressing room! Get in there after him, dammit, or I'll see to it that you're busted back to calling bantam games in Nova Scotia!
REFEREE (scared into action): Yessir, Mr. Lamoriello, sir! (Grabs a linesman and follows after WHITNEY).
(WHITNEY, meanwhile, is scouting the Devils' dressing area in search of JANSSEN. He finally locates him, still in uniform, sitting on an infirmary bed with a thick neck brace).
WHITNEY: There you are!
JANSSEN: What the hell...?
WHITNEY: Go after my captain, will you? (Drops his stick and gloves).
JANSSEN: Wait a minute!
WHITNEY (tearing off his helmet): You wanna dance, Janssen?
WHITNEY: Let's tango, sucka! (Leaps at JANSSEN, pummeling him with a series of right jabs).
(The REFEREE and LINESMAN arrive at the entrance to the infirmary room).
LINESMAN: Sweet Zarley Zalapski!
REFEREE: Wow, this is a new one! But we might as well let 'em blow off some steam.
(There is a pause. The two officials watch as WHITNEY and JANSSEN wrestle all over the infirmary room, knocking over chairs, beds and medical supplies as they tussle.)
LINESMAN: Hmm.. twenty bucks says Janssen pulls this one out.
REFEREE (looks at him in shock): Gambling between officials?! (Pause. He gradually breaks out into a grin and then laughs hysterically.) Yeah, sure, I'll take you up on that one! (Produces a cell phone and dials a number). Hello? Yeah, Rick? We've got a bet to place.
(Cut to a shot from a Versus camera of WHITNEY and JANSSEN going at it while DOC EMRICK and EDDIE OLCZYK narrate. WHITNEY is pounding JANSSEN's head repeatedly against the linoleum floor).
EMRICK: Oh, you just love to see this sort of thing, Eddie. Sticking up for his teammate like that!
OLCZYK: These are the types of situations that The Code was made for, Doc. And they say chivalry is dead!
(We're back to CROSBY on the roof of the Mellon Arena. Things have gotten even more excessively action-packed since we last left him. He is now being pursued by two helicopters, four guys in jetpacks, a team of skateboarders, some dude on a Segway, and a monster truck, in addition to the three motorcycle cops from before. Explosions fill the air.)
CROSBY: This is ridiculous!
(We return to inside Mellon Arena, where the REFEREE and LINESMAN are separating WHITNEY from the bloodied JANSSEN.)
REFEREE: Okay, kid. You've had your fun! Go cool off in your dressing room! (He shoves WHITNEY off in the proper direction, then turns to the LINESMAN). Pay up, bumhole!
(WHITNEY hurries off to the Penguins' dressing room, and goes through the same process that CROSBY went through earlier - pulling out his own set of rocket skates, etc. Just before he goes for the launching tunnel, WHITNEY makes one last equipment check).
WHITNEY (patting each equipment item on his body as he names it): Okay... helmet, gloves, stick, skates... (Thinks for a moment). Pucks! (He looks about the locker room hurriedly, and finally spots a bag of pucks standing on a pedestal along the far wall, like a museum exhibit. WHITNEY approaches it, reading the plaque on the wall just behind the bag). "Historic bag of pucks... received in exchange for Jaromir Jagr, 2001." Hmm... (Considers it for a moment, then grabs the pucks, heading off to begin the launch sequence.)
(CROSBY, meanwhile, is doing all sorts of artful dodges as he leads his various pursuers round 'n' round atop Mellon Arena. A skateboarder flies just overhead, a jetpacker swoops in, just missing him, and another rocket from one of the helicopters touches down just to his right).
CROSBY (running out of breath): Okay... need to change my plan... (He veers suddenly to the left and daringly leaps off of the roof. Unfortunately, WHITNEY has simultaneously launched himself out of the Mellon Arena trapdoor just as CROSBY goes falling past it. The two collide heavily in midair. The camera does not follow them as they fall. Instead we hear the horrible sound of the two players hitting the asphalt below from off-camera).
(Fade up on the forms of CROSBY and WHITNEY, bound at the wrists and ankles and strung halfway up a pair of neighboring light posts. Standing on the ground gazing up at them are KORNHEISER and a pair of ZOMBIE FANS. The sun is setting over the Mellon Arena parking lot, casting all of the characters in silhouette. CROSBY and WHITNEY's equipment lies in a pile at the right edge of the frame).
KORNHEISER: Well, well, well... what do we have here? Two baby Penguins who got a bit too curious! (He walks up to the pole where Crosby hangs, looking bruised and bitter). As far as you're concerned, Mr. Penguin, you can just call me Global Warming.
CROSBY (quietly): You never answered me, Kornheiser.
KORNHEISER: How's that?
CROSBY: Why are you doing this?
KORNHEISER (chuckles, then sighs softly): Listen, Sidney... if it were up to me alone, I'd probably let hockey slide. It's... a cute little niche sport, I suppose. (He smiles fondly). You know, I'll admit, when Messier brought the Rangers the Cup in '94, I followed that. Who didn't? It was a great storyline. Hockey hadn't worn out its welcome yet. But, I mean, Sidney, let's be honest! The NHL only has itself to blame here. I have never seen a professional organization of any sort so completely mismanaged, mismarketed, and overextended as this league has been for the past decade and a half. The lockout was just the final nail. The league has to go, Sidney. It's inevitable. I'm just seeing it through.
CROSBY: No! It's not inevitable, and you know it. You just said that you wouldn't get rid of the NHL if you could choose. So who's put you up to this?
KORNHEISER (smirks, amused that CROSBY doesn't get it yet): C'mon, Sidney. Who do you think? Who pays my check? Who else could destroy an entire sport on a whim alone?
(CROSBY scowls, of course knowing the answer now).
WHITNEY: I get it! So it wasn't enough to trash our league at every chance they got. Now they're just flat out wiping out franchises one at a time!
KORNHEISER (turning to WHITNEY): And who are you, exactly?
WHITNEY (indignantly): Ryan Whitney, drafted fifth overall in 2002 out of Boston University. I'm the team's powerplay quarterback.
KORNHEISER (checking his watch): Yeah, real interesting.
WHITNEY: Listen, buddy. You shouldn't have gone after Pittsburgh first. We're one of the best hockey cities in America. You might be able to fool our fans for an hour or two with your little hypnosis tricks, but eventually they're going to remember who they are and what they stand for!
KORNHEISER: Actually, we've already taken care of the Phoenix Coyotes and the Florida Panthers. No one seemed to notice.
WHITNEY: Wait... seriously?
KORNHEISER: Yep. Now maybe you see why we're doing this? (He laughs, turning to the two ZOMBIE FANS). You two keep an eye on our friends here and their equipment. I've got to go give your fellow consumers a few more important instructions. (He starts to march off proudly).
KORNHEISER (not even bothering to turn around as he heads off): Yeah?
CROSBY: You won't get away with this!
KORNHEISER (still walking, not looking back): I hope you have fun watching as I do.
(CROSBY lowers his head and curses, kicking at his restraints to no avail. WHITNEY glances over, a sorrowful expression on his face.)
WHITNEY: Listen, Sid... I just wanted to apologize for...
CROSBY (cutting him off): Save it, Ryan. We've got to get out of these restraints somehow.
WHITNEY: Right... right... (He looks about the immediate area for something to help them escape, before his gaze stops on ZOMBIE FAN #1. She's a woman in her late twenties, redheaded, with her hair tied back in a ponytail. WHITNEY stares at her, a spark of recognition in his eyes.) Wait a minute... haven't I seen you... before...
(Suddenly we zoom in through WHITNEY's iris, into a black-and-white flashback. We see the Mellon Arena scoreboard, indicating that the Penguins are playing the Senators and are leading 3-2 with thirty seconds left in the third period. We see the Senators pull their goalie, push the puck into the Penguins' zone and score on a goal mouth scramble. We can literally hear the electricity getting sucked out of the Mellon Arena crowd as the Senators celebrate gleefully. There's dead silence as the two teams change their lines for the next faceoff. We see WHITNEY taking up his position on the point, looking frustrated. Suddenly, a singular voice rises from the crowd:
"Let's go Penguins!"
WHITNEY looks into the crowd and sees the redheaded fan standing on her feet and applauding madly. WHITNEY smiles, surprised, inspired, and maybe just a bit attracted. The puck drops, and the faceoff comes straight to WHITNEY. Energized by the fan's enthusiasm, he blasts the puck from where he stands, right on net. Caught off guard, MARTIN GERBER misses the puck with his glove hand.
MARTIN GERBER (weeping as the goal light bathes him in its horrible red glow): Oh nooooo! I'm going straight to Hell!
Flashback ends, zoom out through WHITNEY's iris. He blinks).
WHITNEY: Yeah! I know you. You picked up the whole crowd against the Senators a couple of weeks ago.
(CROSBY is listening to this exchange, and glances at ZOMBIE FAN #2. He's a man in his thirties, with eyeglasses and a goatee. A similar flashback sequence ensues. We see the goateed fan positioned in a seat right by the Penguins' tunnel. The team is coming out for a new period. The fan is leaning over the edge, exchanging fist pounds with the players and shouting encouraging words at each as he passes. "Keep your head up out there, Malkin!" "Give 'em hell, Staal!" "Hey Crosby! Shoot high stick side on this guy! He's got a lousy blocker hand!" We see CROSBY hearing this piece of advice, see the words registering with him, and then see him going out and doing just that - scoring high stick side. Flashback ends).
CROSBY: And you're that guy who's always egging us on at the beginning of each period.
WHITNEY: You're both huge fans! How could you just fall for some cheap trick like a hypno-wheel?
ZOMBIE FAN #1 (without inflection): Studies have shown that hockey can lead to an enhanced risk of breast cancer in women.
ZOMBIE FAN #2: ... and premature hair loss in men.
WHITNEY: You can't possibly believe that!
ZOMBIE FAN #1: The media says it's true.
CROSBY: Listen, forget about what the media says for one second. Look inside your hearts. Think about what hockey means to you, and how exciting it feels to watch a live game.
ZOMBIE FAN #2 (a hint of emotion sneaking into his voice): But... it's un-American.
WHITNEY: I'm American!
CROSBY: And I'm Canadian. Our nationalities may be different, but we love the game just the same. That's all that should matter. Listen, patriotism is a great thing, but people can misuse it just as easily. Just because someone or something is from another country...
WHITNEY: ... or it's unpopular!
CROSBY: ... doesn't mean that you should ignore it or make fun of it.
(The NBC "The More You Know" star flashes overhead. Both ZOMBIE FANS look shaken).
CROSBY: But you're both adults. We don't need to lecture you as if you were child actors in some PSA or something. Deep down, you both love hockey. I'm sure of that. You just got fooled by some slick marketing gimmick. But think about what Kornheiser said. Does it really make sense to you? After all the time you've spent around the game?
(The ZOMBIE FANS begin to malfunction).
ZOMBIE FAN #1: It... it... causes cancer... epilepsy... gingivitis...!
ZOMBIE FAN #2: It... it... leads to crime... pestilence... famine...!
CROSBY: But remember its speed! Its skill! Its intensity!
ZOMBIE FAN #1: Ovarian...
WHITNEY: Think of the hits! The slapshots! The fights!
ZOMBIE FAN #2: Erectile dys...
CROSBY: NHL '94 for the Sega Genesis!
WHITNEY (gasps) Oh, damn! I forgot about that one!
ZOMBIE FAN #2 (blinking back to himself): Yeah! They sure don't make 'em like that any more.
ZOMBIE FAN #1 (also back to normal, she turns to FAN #2): Hey, did you ever see Swingers?
FAN #2: Sure did! "I'm gonna make Gretzky's head bleed for super-fan #99 over there!"
FAN #1 (laughing): Yeah! But that's not entirely accurate because by the time NHL '94 came out...
FANS #1 and #2 (in unison): ... they'd removed the bleeding option! (They laugh some more).
WHITNEY: Oh man, Sid! You awakened their inner hockey nerds!
FAN #1 (turning to CROSBY): Hey... did you ever see Swingers, Sidney... (She stops, gasping) Sidney Crosby! Oh my God!
(CROSBY smiles patiently back at her.)
FAN #2: And Ryan Whitney! What have we done to you? (Glancing down at his jeans) And who vomited on me?!
CROSBY: Uh... just... get us down and we'll explain everything.
FANS #1 and #2: Sure thing!
(Dissolve to CROSBY and WHITNEY, back on the ground and pulling their equipment back on. FANS #1 and #2 are shaking their heads in shock at the story the two hockey players have just told them).
FAN #2: The World Wide Leader, indeed! How irresponsible can you get?
FAN #1 (clenching her fists) It makes me so angry! I just want to smash that Hypno-Thing to bits!
(CROSBY grins knowingly, but before he can make a reply, JORDAN STAAL, EVGENI MALKIN and MARC-ANDRE FLEURY come rocketing up along the asphalt. They're suited up and ready for battle.)
STAAL: Sid, Ryan! We came as fast as we could! The Devils scored in the last minute...
MALKIN: ... And then we had to go to a shootout ...
FLEURY: ... And I hate shootouts!
STAAL: ... And then Coach Therrien held us after for a lecture on defensive zone coverage.
FLEURY (gazing to the scene on the horizon): Hey! Is that a Hypno-Wheel 3000?
CROSBY: Yeah... listen, there's precious little time to explain what's going on here. But I want you to meet... (Points to FAN #1)
FAN #1: Marcia.
CROSBY: And... (Points to FAN #2)
FAN #2: Dan.
CROSBY: They're going to help us clean this whole mess up.
MALKIN: So you've got a plan, Captain Crosby?
CROSBY: Always read the play a few steps ahead, Evgeni.
DAN (sheepishly) Uh... maybe this isn't the right time to ask, but could I have your guys' autographs once, you know, we've saved hockey and everything?
(Everyone stares at him in annoyance.)
DAN: Right, that was... selfish.
CROSBY: Okay, team. Listen up... (He pulls the whole group in tight for a huddled discussion).
(End Part 2)