When you’re a member of the Anchorage Igloos, life is a bit different than it is for the other 11 SHL clubs. Most often, that difference manifests itself in extremely long road trips and brutal winter temperatures. But occasionally, players have to deal with some of the quirkier aspects of the league’s northernmost outpost. RW Jean Pierre Fleury found that out the hard way this week, when his new car was severely damaged by… a rogue walrus.
Fleury appeared in a couple games for the Igloos last year, but this season he became a full-time member of the roster. He chose to celebrate making the big time (as well as his new contract) by purchasing a brand new Chrysler 300.
“For the first time in my life, I have a new car,” said Fleury. “Before now, I always had old cars, rusting and crappy. Now I can afford something nice.”
After showing off his new ride to teammates before Tuesday’s morning skate, Fleury parked it out in the farthest reaches of the players’ parking lot, which is located at the edge of the Gulf of Alaska. He parked it away from the other cars to avoid door dings, as well as any pranks his teammates might want to pull.
“I thought maybe they would put shaving cream on the windows or something,” said Fleury.
When Fleury returned to his car after the practice session, he was shocked and distressed to find that the passenger side of his car was badly dented. The damage was so severe that Fleury was unable to open the doors on that side.
“This was much worse than shaving cream,” Fleury noted. “If this was a prank, it was a terrible one.”
His Igloos teammates quickly assured him that this was no prank. But access to the players’ lot is controlled, and security guards did not report seeing any unusual cars enter or leave. So what had happened? Had some juvenile delinquents attacked the car?
Fortunately, the team posts security cameras around the lot, and they were able to find footage that showed what happened. And when they reviewed the footage, they were stunned by what they saw.
At some point during the practice session, a male walrus climbed out of the water and onto the land near Fleury’s car. It is currently the height of the walrus mating season, and the normally gentle creatures tend to be a bit more aggressive during this time.
It appeared that the walrus must have seen his reflection in the shiny paint of Fleury’s car, and mistaken it for another walrus, perhaps a romantic rival. The animal backed up, then charged and headbutted the car several times, before wandering back off into the water.
Naturally, once word got around the clubhouse, the Igloos were all too excited to see the tape for themselves. One of the team’s video editors created a continuous loop of the attack, which C Jake Frost then played in the clubhouse before Thursday’s game against Dakota.
“It was really fantastic,” said Frost. “We just kept watching the walrus trashing J.P.’s car and laughing ourselves silly. Meanwhile, J.P. was sitting over in his locker with his head in his hands. He couldn’t bear to look.”
Fortunately for Fleury, his insurance was able to cover the damage. And the team announced that it will build a fence along the shoreline to prevent incidents like this from happening again.
Until the fence can be constructed, however, Frost had another suggestion. “Naturally, after this heinous attack on my teammate’s car, I decided to become an expert on everything there is to know about walruses,” said Frost. “And by that, I mean that I read the Wikipedia entry on them. And I learned that polar bears are one of the few natural predators that walruses have. So that’s the answer: we need to send [Igloos mascot] Petey out there to defend our cars!”
Frost’s linemate Jerry Koons supported the idea. “There are few things in life more terrifying than an 8-foot-tall polar bear with earmuffs and a hockey jersey. If we have Petey sit out there and keep an eye on things, we won’t have any walrus problems any more. No one wants to mess with Petey.”