CHL Update: Baltimore’s Humphrey Gives Opponent a Hand

Dean Humphrey’s SHL career has been a strange one, to say the least.  The blueliner’s excellent speed and decent passing ability made him a fringe prospect for a time, but his defensive struggles, awkward skating style, and unfortunate knack for bonehead mistakes kept him from seizing a starting job (although it did make him a folk hero in Seattle for a while).

Dean Humphrey

This season, Humphrey couldn’t find a major-league job at all; he wound up signing a minor-league pact with the Washington Galaxy and has spent the season playing for their CHL affiliate, the Baltimore Blue Crabs.  There, the 25-year-old defenseman has continued his typical career trajectory: flashes of promise marred by frustrating errors, a handful of assists, and no goals.

This week, Humphrey scored his first goal of the season; in fact, it’s the first goal of his entire SHL tenure.  Normally, this would be a cause for celebration.  But because this is Humphrey, this was nothing to cheer about.  The reason is that his tally occurred when he inadvertently flung the puck into his own net.

“It’s never easy to guess what you’re going to get with Dean,” said Blue Crabs coach Roland Tedesco.  “But this… this was something else again.”

The incident occurred early in the third period of Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Hogs.  In real time, it unfolded so quickly that it was hard to tell what had happened.  One moment, Humphrey and Hogs D Seth Dowd were chasing after a loose puck in the corner; the next moment, it was behind Crabs goalie Gennady Kulbakin in the net.

It was only after viewing it in slow-motion that the disaster became clear.  Dowd got to the puck first and flipped it toward the crease, only for it to get stuck in Humphrey’s glove.  Humphrey tried to fling the puck away, but it managed to find daylight between the goalie and the crossbar.  Since Dowd was the last Milwaukee player to touch the puck, he received credit for the goal.

“I know closing your hand around the puck is a penalty, so once I felt it in my hand I knew I had to get rid of it,” said Humphrey.  “I just wanted to throw it down in the other corner or flip it to [Kulbakin] so he could cover it, but it just… wound up in the net.”

As the clip replayed on the Jumbotron, the Crabs sarcastically saluted their teammate by thumping their sticks against the boards, while Humphrey tried to hide his face behind a towel.  “The guys already make fun of me a lot,” he admitted.  “And this isn’t really going to help with that.”

Given that Baltimore won the game 6-2 despite the friendly-fire goal, the Crabs’ general postgame reaction was bemusement.  “I’ve seen own goals before, sure,” said C Tucker Barnhill.  “Usually it’s because you’re defending and it takes a bad bounce off your stick, or deflects off your skate blade.  Throwing it into the next, that’s… something you don’t usually see.”

“I was kind of impressed with Humps’ aim there,” said D Stan Shakovich.  “Normally his shots are way off the mark, but this time he throws it and in it goes.  Maybe he should use his hands more often.”

Tedesco’s initially had a hard time seeing the humor in the situation.  “An incredibly dumb move by a dumb player,” the coach fumed in his post-game press conference.  “Humphrey’s got talent, but he’s throwing it away because he doesn’t have two brain cells to rub together.  If I have to watch that again, I’m going to puke.”

The next day, though, he had calmed down a bit.  “Slow-mo makes it look worse than it was, almost like he did it on purpose,” Tedesco said of the play.  “It was a split-second mistake, and that could happen to anybody.  Somehow, though, it feels like it could only happen to Humphrey.  He’s one of a kind, he really is.”


CHL Update: Baltimore Bus Breakdown Ends Badly

Life in the minor leagues isn’t always glamorous.  The CHL’s Baltimore Blue Claws learned that lesson the hard way this week, as they saw a simple bus ride turn into an ordeal that nearly ended in tragedy for one player.

On Monday, the Blue Claws played the Cleveland Centurions on the road and lost 2-1.  The next night, they had a game at Harborside Arena.  Rather than spend an extra night in the hotel and fly back the next morning, the Blue Crabs faced a six-hour overnight bus ride to get back to Baltimore.

Unsurprisingly, the long ride after a loss already had the team in a bad mood.  But things went from bad to worse when the bus broke down outside of Pittsburgh at about 3:00 in the morning.

“A lot of guys were asleep,” said Blue Claws RW Alberto Fedregotti. “All of a sudden, the bus started making these terrible noises and we started to slow down.  You could just hear everybody start to groan.  We were thinking maybe we would need to hitchhike back to Baltimore.”

It took over an hour to summon a tow truck, and another forty minutes for a replacement bus to arrive.  The team did not make it back home until around 10 in the morning, as the players staggered back to their houses for a few hours of shut-eye before reporting back to the arena for the game.

When they arrived, they received more bad news: The tow truck that hauled off the original bus got into an accident, causing the bus to plunge into the Allegheny River.  Many of the Blue Crabs’ personal effects were still on the bus, so several players groused about the loss of their sticks, clothes, or jewelry.

Mr. Fluffykins

D Sheldon Harville, however, feared for the loss of something even more precious: his childhood teddy bear, Mr. Fluffykins.  Harville brought Mr. Fluffykins with him on every road trip he’d been on since high school as a good-luck charm.  The bond between the two was practically unbreakable.

When he heard that his precious bear was likely lost, Harville “started having, like, a panic attack.  I knew the guys would give me all kinds of grief if they found out what was up, though, so I tried to play it cool.  But I was freaking out at the thought of not having Mr. Fluffykins anymore.  He’s been with me so long that he’s like family.  I’m supposed to be preparing for the game, and all I can think about is trying not to bust out crying.”

Fortunately, though, the story has a happy ending.  The bus was rescued from the river and Mr. Fluffykins was retrieved, a little wet but none the worse for wear.  “Thank God Mr. Fluffykins was okay,” said Harville.  “If I’d lost him, I might have had to quit hockey.”

And despite their nightmarish bus ride and fitful sleep, the Blue Crabs managed to win that night’s game against the Oshawa Drive, 3-2.  “It’s not really the kind of situation you can plan for,” said coach Roland Tedesco.  “You can plan for what to do if your star player gets hurt or something.  You don’t really have a plan for what to do when your team bus breaks down and one of your guys loses his lucky teddy bear.  This is a strange life sometimes.”