Team Story - Part II, The rise of the Vermilion Black Devils
This is the second part of the guest blog series and team story by Alexander Rasputin. The story is fictional but based on the real in game events with his Vermilion Black Devils in Game World Buzzer where he took his team from LIHL to GHL in just 5 seasons. So please enjoy the second part of 'The rise of the Vermilion Black Devils'!
Haven't read the first part yet? Team Story - The rise of the Vermilion Black Devils, Part I
The First Circle
SEASON 1: LIHL, 60-6-3-11, 1st place
Rasputin brings in two Russians to fill key roles on the team - angry powerforward Viktor Sabitov and goaltender Dennis Sabantsev. Sabitov will play on the 1st line with Bergland and German veteran C Akram Janjic, who joins the squad through a Twitter job posting. Sabantsev will start in net. Bure runs the first weeks of practices behind closed doors, with players sleeping and eating at the arena. Occasionally, the players run out of the building in a line carrying what looks like bodybags over their shoulders, and head into the old clay mine where they are seen swinging pickaxes and chopping wood on the surrounding countryside. Rock music blares out of the arena, and bonfires and strange chants cover the perimeter as a vaguely Orthodox-looking priest does laps around the building with an incense burner.
When the public is finally allowed in, they see a different team. The Black Devils are fast and aggressive, and hit hard. Inter-squad scrimmages devolve into adrenaline-fueled shoving matches. The players are focused. Where they lack natural skill, they are physically prepared to play a fast, aggressive game. Bure routinely steps onto the ice to show them mere grains of his talent, still exponentially better than anything they can offer, but for now, it is enough.
The drastic change in cohesiveness causes the unbelievers in the local media to put out a hit story on the team. “Local team’s miraculous transformation powered by ‘Russian gas’” whines the headline. In a calculated PR move, Rasputin invites WADA experts in to test his players. They follow them into bathrooms and crawl up to their beds to take blood samples during sleep. At one point, the WADA team bursts on the ice in the middle of a practice and demands urine tests on the spot. The players call the WADA rep “Gollum” for the way he always creeps behind them, muttering to himself, just out of sight. But the results are negative.
Opening night has an audience of 750. Someone throws a sack of potatoes on the ice and boos. The players pick them up - no sense to waste good food.
The first season goes by quickly, powered by excitement, adrenaline, and the novelty of professional hockey. The still mostly-empty stadium is slowly attracting fans, but the team is a financial black hole. Rasputin streams games on social media, inviting YouTubers and amateur sportscasters to call the games and build up a younger fanbase. He holds NHL tournaments in the arena, giving out cash prizes and season tickets left and right. #BlackDevilHockey and #RussianSpies is trending on Twitter.
True to their namesake, the Black Devils rip through the competition, finishing with a 60-6-3-11 record and a +195 goal differential. Bergland and Sabitov finish with 81 and 72 points, Sabitov with over 200 hits, and the team’s 2nd D-pair of Jesse Betiol and Aadam Richer-Louveteau, local boys, are +94 and +93 respectively. Calgarian Cedric Lepage is the team’s top goal-scorer with 39.
A championship banner is lifted at The Chasm, and one flame is lit under the demon statue in front of the stadium. The Five-Year Plan is underway.
That was the second part of 'The rise of the Vermilion Black Devils' by Alexender Rasputin. The story continues next week so stay tuned!