Team Story - Part V, The rise of the Vermilion Black Devils
This is the fifth 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 fifth part of 'The rise of the Vermilion Black Devils'!
Haven't read the first parts yet? Team Story - The rise of the Vermilion Black Devils, Part I
The Fourth Circle
SEASON 4: BHL, 59-2-4-15, 1st place
The now well-oiled Vermilion machine has won 3 straight league titles and countless hearts. The player Instagram accounts are flooding with fans and their pockets with cash. For the first time, the Black Devils are a profitable business. The Chasm, as Vermilion Park is now commonly known far and wide in Alberta, is a busy place. Hundreds of businesses have opened their doors within the arena and the Vermilion area, with the town quadrupling their population and infrastructure just barely catching up with the expansion.
Alexander Rasputin buys a tiger sanctuary and fills it with bears. Every morning he wrestles them to remind himself that life is precious, and that danger and uncertainty can be bent to man’s will. Rasputin is a man on a mission - and for the BHL, that mission is to get better players. The Vermilion staff understand that at the BHL and then the SHL level, they are entering elite territory, and the core of the team that will be able to compete in these leagues needs to be built now.
A new top-tier scouting team is formed, with focus on using advanced analytics on picking up the best players for the now well-known Black Devils style of play - fast, furious, and incredibly offensive, both in approach, and in the amount of Russian profanity accompanying every rush. Coach Pavel Bure, now with a 183-13-10-37 record behind the bench, continues to go out on the ice and destroy his defence at practices, but they can now stop him about half the time, rather than not at all. There is clear progress.
The Black Devils have drafted well, picking up gifted defensive defenceman Dmitry Yakovlev at 114th after shipping perimeter squad players to mediocre teams in the offseason for their draft picks. Yakovlev will immediately slot in on the team’s first pairing, and is one of the pieces that will form the team’s core for at least the next two seasons. The team has also signed flashy Canadian C Laith Sanford, who scored a record 57 goals the previous CHL season, playing for rival Wolverines. Goalie Dannie Dutil, known for his near-perfect positioning but not much else, has been slotted in as a starter to replace retired Zach Callan. Rasputin and his staff aren’t concerned - the goaltender isn’t going to be winning the team many points with the kind of offence the Black Devils are used to running.
After being blessed by the horned Orthodox-looking, incense-carrying priest, and under the watchful eye of Fedor, the scouting team locks themselves inside The Chasm’s offices for 13 days. Arena employees report chanting, flickering flames, and strange, inhuman sounds from behind the doors.
On the 14th day, as the scouts file out, their sunken eyes filled with incomprehensible, eldritch truths, their leader hands Rasputin a torn scrap of paper. On it are three names:
C Frank Weichert F Hasan Peloso F Ricky Danielsson
Weichert, a 21-year old German superstar with elite playmaking and faceoff skills, trains in the Alps, at altitude. After signing a lucrative deal with Vermilion, he quips that Rasputin himself paradropped onto a ski slope and negotiated the signing during a ski race. “If I beat him, I would have owned the club, and he would have centered the 1st line”, he says, laughing. The signing of Weichert, something that took over a week to complete, involved competing with offers from various BHL and SHL teams, and was the first true test of the Black Devils reputation.
“I wanted to come here because of the playstyle first, as “defence” is not a word in my vocabulary - but also because I wanted to be a part of history”, continues Weichert. “Ultimately, I was convinced that someone with as much drive as Alex was going to bring this team to the GHL.”
Canadian powerforward Hasan Peloso needs no such convincing. “I knew about Alex’s project. I have family in Alberta and they couldn’t shut up about this insane new team with the witchcraft and the arena, and the Moscow money, and the feeling of lifting a trophy every single season. I saw the games, the interviews. The balls with which they played and Alex’s message of ‘we’re coming for you’...” He chuckles. “They didn’t need to ask me twice.”
Rasputin describes a similar mutual admiration. “We have this tradition here. Every practice, the first player in the locker room begins to do pushups, and continues until all the other players have come into the room. I have...had...the record - 165, probably out of respect”, he grins. “When Hasan came in, first practice, he started the set, and the boys lined up right outside the door, to, you know, f!#k with the new guy. Well, we must have waited for a good 10 minutes and that f!#%&r was still going. At that point, we had no choice. What a monster.”
With two of the three top targets locked down, Rasputin sets out to approach Herschel, with whom Danielsson had recently signed, for a deal to obtain his rights. A Swedish junior star, the 20-year old sniper is viewed by the scouts as the ultimate fast, energetic trigger-man with elite shooting ability, who would form a telepathic partnership with Weichert and be a predator on the rush, with Peloso providing the hits and net-front presence to enable the other two to have their way with the enemy defence. But the negotiations drag on. Despite Vermilion offering a more and more lucrative package to a team already stacked with top young talent, Herschel management stubbornly refuses to pull the trigger on a deal.
The beginning of the season draws close, and Rasputin finally resorts to something he hadn’t yet done - trading away the Vermilion 1st round pick. In a package with previous 1st rounder Sloboda and promising centre Oehrl, the BHL 1st is finally enough to green-light the trade, and Danielsson, “a fast-food Mogilny”, according to Bure, takes the first plane to Alberta to link up with his new club.
The season begins with even more fanfare and more on-ice success, as the team, knowing Rasputin’s expectations, set out to tear down opponent after opponent in truly demonic fashion. Halfway through the season, the Black Devils are 9 points clear at the top of the Eastern Conference. The 1st line of Weichert, Peloso, Danielsson, dubbed the “Weapon of Pass Destruction” line by the press, is cosmic. Midway through the season, Weichert is leading the league with 1.85 PPG, with 30 goals and 55 assists in 46 games putting him on a record 150-point pace. An injury to Danielsson slows him down, but it is Peloso who is leading the charge in the goalscoring department, Ovechkin-esque in battering through opponents on his way to highlight-reel goals. The mainstream Canadian media has picked up on the hype around Vermilion, and public figures and ex-pros can now be seen at Black Devils games. Rasputin and Bure are more than happy to give interviews, creating a constant aura around the club. Will they, again, capture the title as easily as before?
Fate strikes this charge down in game 46, against Estuary Flame, a Western conference rival. In a now routine, surgical three-move breakout, Weichert and Peloso skate away, 2 on 1 against an Estuary defenceman. In desperation, he dives to the ground, waving his stick like a white flag at Weichert’s legs, and tripping him awkwardly as the two players slide in a pile to the boards. Weichert doesn’t get up and the crowd holds their collective breaths. Moving slowly, the Black Devils star is escorted to the locker room, holding his head, as Peloso repeatedly smashes the offending Estuary player into what remains of his face.
Post-game, a grim Rasputin spits out “Done for the season” before disappearing into a closed-door meeting with the players.
Feeding on Rasputin’s earlier message of channeling anger on the ice, it is Hasan “Turkish” Peloso who steps up for the team. Paired with Danish veteran playmaker Clemens Eriksen, picked up via waivers, the two continue the Vermilion domination of the BHL. Peloso finishes with a record 50G/56A/106P in 73 games, Eriksen contributes a respectable 68 points in 48 games in his short time with Vermilion, with Weichert finishing 3rd in league scoring despite missing 34 games.
The Black Devils take the title with 4 games to spare, missing out on another 60-win season by 1 game. The team celebrates around Peloso, receiving the top goalscorer, point scorer, and overall MVP award, his name etched into Black Devils lore. A banner is lowered from the rafters and a fourth flame is lit in a ceremony by the injured Weichert.
That was the fifth part of 'The rise of the Vermilion Black Devils' by Alexender Rasputin. The story continues next week so stay tuned!
- Team Story - The rise of the Vermilion Black Devils, Part I
- Team Story - The rise of the Vermilion Black Devils, Part II
- Team Story - The rise of the Vermilion Black Devils, Part III
- Team Story - The rise of the Vermilion Black Devils, Part IV
- Team Story - The rise of the Vermilion Black Devils, Part V
- Team Story - The rise of the Vermilion Black Devils, Part VI
- Team Story - The rise of the Vermilion Black Devils, Part VII