Animal Evening: NHL Fan Fair 2017

Mascot Broomball at the NHL Fan Fair 2017, from the Los Angeles Convention Center (Photo by Justin Hargett)

As soon as the doors to NHL Fan Fair opened at 5 p.m. last night, the mascots charged the concrete floor of the Los Angeles Convention Center with anarchic glee, and hockey’s All-Star Weekend had officially begun. Iceburgh the Pittsburgh Penguin waved his flippers and bopped his beak to Kanye West’s “Fade,” while Harvey the Hound of the Calgary Flames disrupted the distribution of sticks at a test-your-slap-shot booth. A line of humans seeking to get close to the Stanley Cup began to form, but the Colorado Avalanche’s Bernie the St. Bernard had no interest in the championship trophy. The big dog sat morose and alone in a fenced-off toddler zone, attempting to apply crayon to paper. Over by a pair of historical Zambonis, Stinger—a predatory wasp with a neon green head, representing the Columbus Blue Jackets—picked his nose and wiped the snot down Harvey the Hound’s arm. Youppi! (the giant Montreal Canadien) ran over to the food court and shook his orange-haired fist at a sign advertising a “Special Combo”: sixteen-ounce lemonade, corn dog, and a bag of chips for eleven dollars. But Fin the Whale, a Vancouver Canuck and officially an orca, had better things to gnaw on, like the scalps of fans posing for personalized trading card photographs. Mick E. Moose of the Winnipeg Jets hung around by some garbage receptacles, his toothy grin pointed straight at the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile. Was he mulling a theft? Louie the baby polar bear belonging to the St. Louis Blues family stood near the trash too, but it appeared the innocent marine mammal only wished to hop inside a recycling bin for a nap. Meanwhile, ThunderBug, in from Tampa Bay with the Lightning, found a nice patch of empty space behind a booth selling plastic figurines and began to thrust his pelvis back and forth at the wall. Wild Wing, the Anaheim Duck, loitered by a beer cart, pointing at the bottles on ice and tapping his webbed foot, when the announcement came over the loudspeakers: All mascots report to the rink for the broomball match. Time for work.

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Joshua Baldwin is an editor at Eephus. He is the author of The Wilshire Sun, a novella. His writing has appeared in The Paris Review, n+1, The Brooklyn Rail, Chicago Review, Prelude, and elsewhere. He lives in Los Angeles. Reach him at josh@eephusmag.com.