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The International Writers Magazine

Holy Goalie
Scott Schnaars

Dalai Lama- The Number One New York Ranger's Fan but it's him versus the Pope and Fidel Castro in the fantasy league!

A procession of well-armored limousines pulled to a grinding halt near the private entrance at Madison Square Garden. A gaggle of security guards, armed and wired to the hilt get out and check all round them for anything that may be suspicious.

They give a sign that the area is clear, a pull on an ear or a brush of an arm, to one of the cars and the driver files out in typical fashion to open the back door. From the back of the car comes the burgundy and orange flowing robe of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th incarnation of the Dalai Lama. A smile on his face and a nod to the nearby onlookers and he is quickly ushered in to The Garden.

It is about 6:30 on a cold, crisp December evening. Snow is in the forecast for later that night. This is the reason that the Dalai Lama is in New York City. He has actually been in town for several days, but tonight, he will join 19,456 people that are at the arena for this event.

As he walks through the halls of the arena, he hears the dull roar of the crowd finding their seat, cajoling with friends that have this common interest. The Dalai Lama is shaking hands and taking the time to speak with all of the people bold enough to approach his Holiness. He feels his adrenalin start to pump. It has been over three years since his last night like this.

As the Dalai Lama walks into the sold out arena, few people notice the large group of Buddhists sitting together. Fewer still notice the large team of security guards or the bulletproof glass separating His Holiness from the rest of the arena. The Dalai Lama takes his position and the evening is about to begin.
It is a little known secret that the Dalai Lama is a huge hockey fan. More importantly, he is a diehard New York Rangers fan. As if there were any other kinds. He has been in town for about three days speaking to various special interest groups and has had very little time for himself. He specifically scheduled this trip around this game, New York Rangers versus the New Jersey Devils; an historic rivalry that matches that of any in sporting history.

Upon completion of the National Anthem, a player from Rent, introduced the Lama and they showed him on the Jumbo-Tron. His Holiness blushed in embarrassment and humility but managed to wave a hello to the crowd who was in awe at being unknowingly graced by the presence of one of the most sacred men in history. Well, him and King Clancy.

It comes as a surprise to many people that a man, who lives his life preaching the virtues of peace and non-violence, can be such a hockey fan. The truth is, that on one of his first trips to the United States, in 1950, he happened to see a game between the Detroit Red Wings and the Hartford Whalers and got hooked. He was so impressed with Gordie Howe that he actually made his staff arrange an introduction. Two days later, during a layover in Chicago, it was so. It was a short visit, but one that also made a lasting impression on the greatest player to ever lace up skates and, though he had never even heard of him when they met, he often times credits the Dalai Lama for his success. A comparable impression was made on His Holiness for those in the inner circle, they know that it is not unusual to have a pick up game of broomball hockey take place in Tibet. While His Holiness is closing in on 70 years old and no longer plays due to age, we will still skate and take penalty shots when his schedule permits. Even to this day, it is very rare that his shots get blocked.

In fact, the Dalai Lama is such a hockey fan, that it is not unusual for him to be part of two or three fantasy hockey leagues with people around the globe. Under the moniker ‘Holy_Goalie’, he has not won the Fantasy Stanley Cup yet, but does feel that this year is his big year and if certain, not to be named players, would get off of the disabled list, that he might have a shot. They know who they are. He sometimes feels that if he can live a life of no desires and be ostracized from his country, that these NHL players with a twisted thumb can go out there and put the puck in the net for $4 million a year. Then he goes back to being the Dalai Lama.

Pope John Paul II is also in his fantasy league, but doesn’t have nearly as good a surfer name, GretzkyFanII, nor has he been consistently as good. It is clear that the Pope is sicker than he lets on in the media. It would surprise a lot of people that the Pope is not the only world leader that takes part in this Fantasy Hockey League. Fidel Castro (FireNIce), Yassar Arafat (FrozenFish), King Abdullah Hussein of Jordan (23Ice), and Al Sharpton (Zamboni1) are all part of the league as well. Thanks to the Internet, they are all able to take place with minimal amount of time and effort. It is clear, though, that there is some animosity between the Pope and the Dalai Lama, no just due to religious differences, but also because the Dalai Lama got the good screen name. The puck drops at center ice and the action begins.

© Scott Schnaars -Feb 2004

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