Night Fire Coach Foster

Over the last three-plus seasons, New York Night coach Nick Foster has become famous and infamous around the SHL for his acid-tongued quips and his enthusiastic attempts to stir up rivalries, especially with the Hamilton Pistols.  More quietly, Foster also transformed the Night’s toxic culture and lifted the team from a punchline to a borderline contender.

He couldn’t quite get them over the hump, however.  And this week Foster was fired as coach of the Night, arguably for failing to back up his boasts and jabs with a title or even a playoff berth.

“This was a tough call for us, because I really like Nick and appreciate all he’s done for the organization,” said Night GM Jay McKay.  “I don’t want to lose sight of that.  But we came to the conclusion that a different voice and a different direction is what we need to get to the next level.”

Nick Foster

Foster departs with a record of 105-114-6.  When he first arrived in New York in 2017, he inherited a feuding, dysfunctional locker room, with star players openly criticizing then-coach Preston Rivers and even leaving the team or refusing to take the ice.  Foster quickly worked to instill discipline in the team, encouraging a greater focus on two-way play, physicality, and accountability, benching or trading players who didn’t want to buy in.

Once he had managed to mold the team in his image, Foster turned his attention outward.  He embraced the role of heel, encouraging his team to lean into the swaggering bad-boy image.  He sprinkled his press conferences with insults aimed at opposing teams and players.  He even mocked Dakota’s famed Corn Palace.  Most famously, he stoked New York’s rivalry with Hamilton, turning it into the fiercest feud in the league.

Foster’s approach earned him a lot of enemies around the league, but it proved popular both with his players and with Night fans.  During each of the last two seasons, the Night finished above .500, the first winning campaigns in franchise history.

But New York never made the postseason, and they’d shown some signs of stagnation or even regression recently.  With aging owner Marvin Kingman reportedly desperate for a Vandy, there was growing concern about whether Foster had taken the team as far as he could, and about whether his press-conference remarks were serving to fire up opponents more than the Night.

“This isn’t just about Nick,” said McKay of the firing.  “Ultimately, this is a challenge to all of us. We need to step up our game and reach the next level.  Mr. Kingman expects a great deal out of this team, and it’s on us to deliver.”

“Live by the sword, die by the sword,” said Foster.  “I know lots of people around the league have been longing for the day I got the ax, so today’s your day!  Live it up.  The bastards won this round, but this team isn’t done, and I’m not either.  Enjoy the peace and quiet for now, but remember that I’ll be back.  You’re not getting rid of me that easy!”

Assistant coach Biff Lombardi was named the interim head coach, but the team is not expected to retain him long-term.  The team is reportedly considering former Washington Galaxy coach Rodney Reagle and Harvey Williams of the minor-league Oshawa Drive as possible replacements.

Pistols Mascot Invites Foster, Night to “Fist City”

At this point, it’s well-known around the league that the Hamilton Pistols and New York Night don’t like each other.  The teams have been feuding for multiple seasons.  The rivalry was initially sparked and furiously stoked by Night coach Nick Foster.  The New York organization has also played its part in kindling the dislike, particularly during last season’s “Canada Night” promotion.  The Pistols have lobbed their own barbed remarks and occasionally gotten physical, but have generally preferred to let their play do the talking.  Foster’s recent jabs at the team’s new mascot, however, seem to have crossed the line, and the Pistols finally went after the New York coach and his team in a memorable in-game skit.

Crosscheck

The Pistols debuted Crosscheck, a friendly orange creature, as their new mascot about a month into the season.  Foster saw it for the first time shortly before the All-Star break, and wasted no time making fun of it.  Foster called Crosscheck a “freaky inbred Teletubby” and claimed that it represents a typical Pistols fan, because “it’s fat, missing most of its teeth, and it looks like its family tree is a straight line.”  Pistols fans and players alike were outraged by Foster’s insults, and the team decided to respond in kind.

The Night came to Hamilton on Saturday, and the fans filled the air with boos when Foster’s name was mentioned during the pregame lineup announcements.  Before the opening puck drop, the Pistols dimmed the lights and cued up a video on the Jumbotron.  It began with some clips of Foster’s descriptions of the Hamilton mascot.  Then, after a pause, it showed Crosscheck sitting in the office of owner Cory Blackwood, Jr.  The owner assured Crosscheck, “Listen, whatever you want to do, the organization is behind you.  I think it’s time you got even.”

The video then showed a series of clips of Hamilton players beating up New York players, interspersed with shots of Crosscheck venting his frustrations.  In one scene, he threw darts at a picture of Foster’s face.  In another, he went after a punching bag with Foster’s picture taped to it.  In yet another, he played a special version of Whack-A-Mole where all the “moles” were made to look like the Night coach’s head.  The whole sequence was scored to Loretta Lynn’s 1968 country classic “Fist City.”  The fans laughed and cheered throughout; even some of New York’s players appeared to be watching with evident amusement.

Finally, after the video was complete, Crosscheck came charging out on the ice, wearing boxing trunks and gloves.  He stopped in front of the Night bench, waved his fists around, and pointed at Foster, challenging the Night bench boss to a throwdown.  Foster responded by laughing and blowing kisses, while the fans booed.  Adding injury to insult, the Pistols proceeded to shut out the Night 3-0 during the game, with backup netminder Ron Mason stopping all 42 New York shots.

Nick Foster

“I loved it!” said Foster after the game.  “The freaky Teletubby earned my respect out there today.  It might not be too bright, but it knows how to stand up for itself.  Again, I’d say that the weirdo seemed like a typical Pistols fan, except that it seemed to be basically sober.”

The Pistols, naturally, dubbed Foster a coward for declining Crosscheck’s invitation to fight.  “Crosscheck called [Foster] out like a man, or whatever it is,” said LW Steven Alexander.  “And Foster had a chance to back up his mouth with some action, but of course he wouldn’t do it.  I wish I was surprised.  Crosscheck is ten times the man that Foster is, and Crosscheck’s not even a man.”

One thing’s for certain: the Pistols are clearly not inclined to take Foster’s insults lying down.  Will the Night respond in kind the next time Hamilton visits the Big Apple?  As angry as this rivalry already is, it could be heading for an even greater level of hatred.

Continue reading “Pistols Mascot Invites Foster, Night to “Fist City””

Night’s Foster Roasts Pistols’ New Mascot

New York Night coach Nick Foster is a master at using verbal jabs to stir up rivalries with opposing teams and players.  Over the last couple of seasons, he has trained the bulk of his rhetorical fire on the Hamilton Pistols, turning that rivalry into one of the league’s most heated.

Crosscheck

The two squads faced off again on Sunday, and after a 2-2 tie, Foster took the opportunity in his postgame press conference to open up another front in his verbal war against his opponents from the north: he mocked the Pistols’ new mascot, Crosscheck.

The Pistols originally planned for Crosscheck to debut at the beginning of this season.  After they won the Vandy last year, though, Hamilton’s front office shifted their early promotions to focus on celebrating the team’s title.  The new mascot – a rather unusual-looking orange creature clad in a Pistols jersey – finally took its bow late last month.  It’s received mixed reviews so far; some fans find it fun and cheerful, while others seem to consider it creepy.

Foster’s first exposure to Crosscheck occurred during Sunday’s game, and he wasted no time opening fire on the new mascot.  “So I look up at the scoreboard for a second, and suddenly I’m staring at this freaky inbred Teletubby,” Foster told reporters.  “At first I thought I must be hallucinating, but I rubbed my eyes and it was still there.  I asked [assistant coach] Biff [Lombardi] if he saw it too, and he did, so it must be real.”

After bugging out his eyes in mock shock, Foster continued.  “Now, I know Halloween isn’t for another eight months, so what the hell is this?  Are they trying to scare kids, or get the adults to throw up in the aisles?  I know I’m scarred for life: I’m going to see his one extra-wide tooth in my sleep.

“I finally figured it out, though,” the New York coach concluded.  “This… thing is supposed to represent Hamilton’s fans!  Think about it: It’s fat, missing most of its teeth, and it looks like its family tree is a straight line.  Just like your typical Pistols fan!  It must be like looking in a mirror for them.  So now I get it.”

In the wake of Foster’s barbs, the Pistols and their fans rushed to Crosscheck’s defense.  “Crosscheck is one of us,” said coach Keith Shields.  “Crosscheck is all about fun and love of hockey, and certainly deserves better than Foster’s insults and cruelty.  If you insult any member of the Pistols family – whether it’s a player, a fan, or a mascot – you have to answer to all of us.”

Added LW Steven Alexander, “Crosscheck might be ugly, but it’s better to be ugly on the outside than ugly on the inside.”

Hamilton’s fans have bombarded social media with memes and posts supporting Crosscheck and attacking Foster.  “I think perhaps we owe our gratitude to Coach Foster,” said Pistols GM Marcel LaClaire.  “He has done more to unite our fan base behind our new mascot than anyone ever could.  For this, I am thankful.”