What happens when you score 30 goals for the Minnesota Wild? Only three men know the illustrious feeling. We followed Jason Pominville on Sunday night, after he got his 30th goal in the season finale against the Predators. Here’s what transpired.
A car pulls up late at night in front of a decrepit looking house somewhere north of I-94 in St. Paul. Jason Pominville nervously gets out and walks slowly towards the front door. He tries to ring the doorbell, but receives a mild electric shock as sparks fly out from the button. Recoiling and shaking his right hand, he tentatively knocks on the door. Two men’s voices can be heard from inside.
Man 1: Brian! He’s here! Get the door!
Brian: [grunting noises] Yah.
Brian can be heard slowly walking down the stairs with labored, uneven steps. He opens the door and appears to disheveled and very dirty. Most of his words are spoken in a tired, gruff, grunting tone.
Jason Pominville: (confused) Yeah, hi. I got a note in my locker tonight saying to show up at this address tonight?
Jason Pominville: What is this place? (doing a double take) And…are you Brian Rolston?
Brian looks on the outside of the building, above the door.
Brian Rolston: Mmm…sign fell down
He stoops to pick up a faded wooden sign that reads “Minnesota Wild 30-Goal Scorers Club: Official Clubhouse” from the floor of the front porch, and hangs it back up above the door. Walking very much like Igor from “Young Frankenstein” (minus the hunchback) he turns to enter the building, and motions for Jason to follow. The house is much like the front porch. Very dusty, and with clutter everywhere.
Brian: He’s in there. He’s waiting for you.
He motions toward the living room. Jason enters and sees a skinny man standing with his back to him along the back wall. The man is wearing a cape for some reason and giving off a bit of a Vincent Price vibe. He whirls around with a broad, proud smile on his face. He is holding a very old portable boombox cd/tape player in his hands. It is Marian Gaborik.
Marian Gaborik: Welcome! Welcome! Welcome! We’ve been expecting you, Jason.
He hits a button on the boombox. Nothing happens.
Marian Gaborik: What the hell? I hit play.
Brian Rolston: You gotta have it on cassette first. I keep telling you this.
Marian Gaborik: It is on cassette, Brian, you idiot! (after a pause) Wait, cassette 1 or cassette 2?
Brian Rolston: Well, which holder is the tape in?
Marian Gaborik: Cassette 1, I think.
Brian Rolston: (Ruefully) Then you put it on cassette 1.
Rolston looks at Jason Pominville and shakes his head as if to say “I’m sorry.” Marian Gaborik plays with the buttons some more and finally some dramatic organ music plays.
Marian Gaborik: A-ha! Now you can imagine what that would have been like had it played right the first time.
Jason Pominville: Yeah sure. What is this place?
Marian Gaborik: (beaming) This is the very exclusive, very elite, 30-goal scorers club of the Minnesota Wild! Isn’t it fantastic!
Jason looks around the living room, which is strewn with furniture that is all a little off. The tables are uneven, and some of the chairs lean so much that you can’t sit in them. The floorboards don’t reach the wall in one corner of the room. All in all just terrible construction.
Jason Pominville: (sniffing) Is that Icy Hot I smell?
Brian Rolston: Oh god, with the Icy Hot. Seriously.
Marian Gaborik: Silence, Brian. And yeah, that’s me. Got to keep the old groin muscles together you know?
Jason Pominville: Not…really (trying to be polite) Well the clubhouse is really…something. Listen, I gotta go-
Marian Gaborik: Thanks! I built this place myself back in the summer of 2002. Finished the basement after the 2003 season. That’s the real reason I held out. Everyone thinks it was the money, but I just wanted to get that wet bar done, you know?
Brian Rolston: Yeah, but the wet bar’s a piece of crap. The beer taps aren’t even hooked up to anything.
Marian Gaborik: (suddenly very angry) Shut your face, Brian!
Jason Pominville: Wait. Don’t you play for the Kings now?
Marian Gaborik: I think so, it’s hard to keep track these days. I do remember my agent saying something about that though. Why?
Jason Pominville: Well, you guys made the playoffs. I think you open up in San Jose in like three days. Shouldn’t you be there instead of here?
Marian Gaborik: (Dismissively) Oh, I haven’t shown up for a playoff series since 2003.
Brian Rolston: (nodding) Totally true.
Marian Gaborik: (shouting) I swear, Brian, you shut your goddamn mouth, or I will smack you. Do you understand? (to Jason Pominville, politely again) Now, first things first, were you followed here?
Jason Pominville: Well, no, but Zach Parise gave me a ride. I can’t stay too long. He’s out in the car.
Marian Gaborik: Well that won’t do at all! This Zach Parise has never scored 30 goals for the Minnesota Wild. He must leave at once!
Jason Pominville: Well, he scored like 45 one year for New Jersey.
Brian Rolston: Yeah, I was on that team. He’s pretty good, Marian.
Marian Gaborik: (Incredulous) Oh is he? Well New Jersey isn’t Minnesota, is it Brian? The Devils have their own clubhouse. I used to walk by it sometimes when I played for the Rangers. Pat Verbeek used to throw apples at me from their front steps while Claude Lemieux called me “Gabby.” (obviously haunted by these memories, he takes a moment to collect himself) Seriously hate those guys. But no, Mr. Parise must exit the premises immediately or else I’ll have to call security.
Jason Pominville: You have security?
Marian Gaborik: Well, not security PER SE, but I can get Chris Simon over here, pretty quick.
Jason Pominville: And what does he do?
Marian Gaborik: Well, he just sort of looks at you funny and cracks his knuckles. It’s very effective.
Jason Pominville: I’ll bet. Well, listen. I don’t think that will be necessary. Zach’s like our best player. Besides, he scored 29 goals this year, and he missed like 16 games or something. Can’t we just let him in?
Brian Rolston: Oh, shit. Here we go.
Marian Gaborik: (Furious, he slowly advances towards Jason Pominville, by the end of the speech, he is nose to nose with him) Can we just let him in? Of course not! 29 goals is not 30 goals Jason. Do you know how many times I scored 30 goals for this team? Do you? Five times! (He holds out his hand, making a five finger sign) FIVE! How many times did you do it Brian?
Brian Rolston: (embarrassed) Three times.
Marian Gaborik: Three times! And I don’t even let him use the bathroom in this place!
Brian Rolston: Which doesn’t work…
Marian Gaborik: Shut it, Brian! Or I will cut you! Now, about this 29 goals business. Do you know how many people have tried to get in here, saying they “got close?” Mikko Koivu calls me like four times a week. I had to get a restraining order. I caught Martin Havlat out back once and beat him senseless with his own beard. Pierre-Marc Bouchard bought the house next door and called it the “50 assist” club. I had that place condemned within two weeks! I did let Andrew Brunette in once, but that’s just because he said he would fix the toilet, and I don’t even think he did that! And don’t give me this “injury” nonsense. I used to get injured like three times a week, and I still popped in the goals. Sometimes I scored like five in a night just to make it interesting. Have you ever scored five goals in an NHL game. Have you, Brian? (they both shake their heads) I DIDN’T THINK SO! (at this point, Gaborik begins having a tantrum, throwing random objects around) SCORING 30 GOALS IS HARD! REALLY HARD! I just wanted to have a place where people who have done it could come, and never have to deal with all of those weirdos who’ve never accomplished anything with their lives! Why doesn’t anyone appreciate this like I do! (he breaks down in tears, and Brian Rolston puts his arm around him for comfort)
Brian Rolston: This happens like once a week. Don’t worry about it.
Marian Gaborik: (shaking free from Rolston) Oh my god Brian, why do you shut the fuck up!
Jason Pominville: Ok, look, I’m sorry. It’s just that I’ve never seen anything like this. You’ve got this weird house. Brian Rolston’s here and you keep yelling at him. It smells like Icy Hot. And I mean, really smells like Icy Hot.
Marian Gaborik: Again, I said I’m sorry about the Icy Hot.
Jason Pominville: It’s just weird, you know?
Marian Gaborik: Didn’t you ever score 30 goals when you played for Buffalo?
Jason Pominville: Yeah, twice, why?
Marian Gaborik: And you didn’t have a clubhouse like this?
Jason Pominville: No. I mean we used to hang out at Dave Andreychuk’s house sometimes on weekends, but, you know.
Marian Gaborik: What happened?
Jason Pominville: Well, there were a bunch of us for a while, but then Rick Martin and Danny Gare went off on their own because they scored 40 goals in a season. And then Pat LaFontaine and Alex Mogilny started their own thing and called it the 50 goal club. And eventually it was just Mogilny off on his own, calling himself the “70 goal club.”
Marian Gaborik: Did he have a clubhouse for that?
Jason Pominville: No, he just declared a four foot mobile radius around him “the 70 goal club.” It was super weird, man.
Marian Gaborik: (suddenly lost in thought) Interesting concept…
Jason Pominville: So I’m just not going to worry about the 30-goal thing, and try to win the Stanley Cup. Is that cool?
Brian Rolston: (suddenly beaming) I’ve won a Stanley Cup!
There is an awkward pause, and both Gaborik and Pominville stare angrily at Rolston.
Brian Rolston: What?
Pominville and Gaborik: Shut up, Rolston.
Marian Gaborik: Ass.
With this, Jason Pominville turns to leave. He gets back out to the car, opens the door and sits in silence for a moment.
Zach Parise: You ok? What happened?
Jason Pominville: (staring out the windshield into the distance) If you ever score 30 or more goals for this team, do me a favor and keep it to yourself, understood?
Parise: O…K. (sniffs the air) Is that Ben Gay?
Pominville: Icy Hot. And I don’t want to talk about it.