* I’m, like, super easy to please. Really. I’m thrilled that you’re writing about any of these guys; anything you come up with is gonna be amazing. I’m also basically impossible to offend, so if you have a crazy idea: chase that dream.
* I love stories that experiment with storytelling, format, POV, etc. So if that’s your thing, or if you’ve always wanted to try something out-of-the-box and haven’t had the opportunity – go for it.
* I know these are all listed as pairings, but I’m super, super okay with gen and friendship fic for ANY of them. I’m also totally okay if you want to allude to or include one or both of these characters in relationships with someone else. I have no OTPs. Please interpret “pairing” as loosely as you’d like
* Happy ending, no happy ending. Pain, torment, heartbreak, guilt, shame, anxiety, unrequited pining, it’s all good, bring it on [if you write about Willie Mitchell, I would like Willie Mitchell to be happy, but that’s my only exception]
* I love sci-fi and fantasy AU/tropes. Magic powers. Telepathy. Soulbonds. Space. Actually AUs in general are great. But that doesn’t mean I don’t also love slice-of-life, hockey stories – I love those too! I love the sport, I love thinking about how these guys prepare for games, and what they think about when they’re actually playing it.
* I’m cool with real life family members and partners appearing in fic, I just ask that they’re treated respectfully and with sympathy
Things I tend to avoid in fic:
* The only thing I really actively avoid reading is explicit heterosexual sex.
* I am also, in general, not a fan of fic that revolves around weddings or child rearing or things that could be labeled “fluff”
Pairing specific stuff!
Let’s just get the most embarrassing of these out of the way, okay?
Does this pairing exist with only the briefest of real-life overlap? Yes.
Is this pairing here because Kyle Rau is a tiny, angry, determined hockey player and Lawson Crouse is a giant, first-round-pick, super-hyped prospect? Okay, yes.
Does it hurt that “giant, tall, blond, Florida Panthers forward” also describes Kyle’s best friend? No, no it does not.
I am judging myself really hard right now
One of my favorite things is the relationships between people who have to scratch, and claw and fight to find a place in pro hockey and those that… don’t. Everyone thinks Lawson is going to have a long NHL career. Lots of people think Kyle won’t. That dynamic is fascinating to me. Something that plays on them both being far from home would be great, or just outside their comfort zone. Something about them pining for friends or lovers who are far away and making do with each other would be amazing. You should also feel free to break one or both of their hearts.
It’s pretty clear the NHL thinks they’re soul bonded and who am I to argue? Childhood friends getting drafted/breaking into the League at the same time? Amazing. Jealousy? Why not. Separation and pining? Yes please. I not-so-secretly love tormenting Lawson Crouse, and this picture TK posted? With his girlfriend? And someone giving LAWSON grief over it in the comments? It is amazing, okay?
tell me this isn't amazing. this is amazing.
They also rode ponies together, and if you want to write me fic where they’re on a cattle drive or farm hands or on the rodeo circuit or whatever, I would love you forever.
Oh, man, this is turning into kind of a theme, but Aaron Ekblad was the kid who got a special exemption to go play in the OHL early because he was so good. And in Barrie, he played with Tanner Pearson who was such a late bloomer he didn’t even make the OHL until he was 18, and then he was passed over in the NHL draft TWICE. (I’m gonna link this video, but fair warning, the first 10 seconds of it make me want to die from secondhand embarrassment).
Eks, looking very happy, flanked by Scheifele (L) and Pearson (R).
BUT THEN, Tanner Pearson went on the win the Stanley Cup and when Aaron was just a wee draft prospect he got to visit the Kings’ locker room during their cup run.
I’m just saying this pairing does a lot for me in terms of friends who are also competitive with each other. With mentorship and guidance-by-peers. I love that they sort of flipped in terms of who was more successful and then maybe flipped again if you count Pears breaking his leg and Eks’ Calder. If you wanted to write about their history in Barrie, I would love that. If you wanted to write about them playing each other now or in the future, I would love that too.
A grizzled grinder and a bright-eyed, highly-touted prospect? I feel really predictable right now. But, like. When Adrian Kempe came over to play in North American for the Kings’ AHL affiliate he lived with Paul Bissonnette. And if you don’t think that’s great, I don’t know what to tell you.
picking up bad habits
Biz taught him all kinds of things, including apparently, how to chirp. Which is great. I find Biz fascinating, and especially his place on the Monarchs fascinating. When he was brought in, it was for very specific leadership-type reasons, and that’s sort of amazing and great to me. I also really love what he had to say in this Player’s Tribune piece, about how he feels about fighting for a teammate, and how he sees his role on a team. If you wanted to write something about that debt/counterdebt, protection, vet/rookie power dynamic, and how that does or doesn’t spill over off the ice, that would be, um, great.
Theirs is a friendship that spans decades and leagues and miles. They have that anointed one/not-a-guarantee dynamic I love. Some ideas because I know I’m being super vague and unhelpful here: team fic where they get shit for being super married. How they manage distance. Reconciling after a fight.
"Stick" and "Mitchy"
Two beloved players who have left my team [broken heart emoji].
This pairing more than any I’m really open to gen/friendship. But hey, if you want to make it more-than-friends, I am here for that too. I just want to see them being happy together and enjoying each other’s company. I’d love a story about how they’re providing mentorship to young players on their new teams. If you wanted to write a story about one of them seeking input on how to support two guys on their team who were in a relationship, I would basically die of happiness. If you just wanted to write them getting dinner after a game in one of their respective new cities, and reflecting on their careers I would also be super happy. Basically I love them, and I want them to be happy.
[a note about Aaron Ekblad and the Mitchells: I don’t have a problem with a romantic/sexual Ekblad/Mitchell(s) relationship, it’s just not my Thing, per se. If you want to allude to it or include it, that’s fine with me, I just ask that you don’t make it the main focus of the story]
Also, Willie and Justin had pre-game ritual of hanging by bench in LA that I sort of adored:
Just, you know. Hangin'
seriously, that's what they did
they're very chill
And here is where I’m going to go on an embarrassing mini tirade about how great Willie Mitchell is. I saved it till the end so you could skip it if you wanted to, okay? Nothing important comes after this, so you can just stop reading here, if you want. But this has to be here.
You guys. Willie Mitchell is so great. He is SO GREAT.
Willie Mitchell is a gritty, stay at home defenseman who, yes, has slowed down considerably in recent years – but that’s fine because Willie Mitchell was never supposed to have the NHL career that he did.
Willie Mitchell was never supposed to have an NHL career.
Willie Mitchell is a BC kid, but he played college hockey because he figured he’d need an education. Willie Mitchell was drafted in ’96 in the eighth round (remember when there were 8 rounds?). He played a tiny bit for New Jersey and a lot for their AHL team before finding a place for himself on Minnesota’s roster. He went from there to Dallas to Vancouver (where he played with Lu) before ending up in LA.
Willie Mitchell in LA was famous for two things: being a mean old bastard on the ice, and being the best guy in the world off it. Willie Mitchell was maybe the best quote Kings beat reporters ever had. Willie Mitchell is charming and gregarious (like really, really gregarious). Willie Mitchell cares deeply about politics and conservation and protecting the environment. Willie Mitchell enjoys a good bottle of wine, and always knows the best restaurant in town. Willie Mitchell naps on airplanes #BecauseItsTheCup. Willie Mitchell has shepherded and sheltered a long, LONG string of young defensemen. He helped ease them into their careers and he allowed them to take risks and be great. Willie Mitchell is literally always smiling. Willie Mitchell has friends in every town he goes to.
Willie Mitchell’s career was also supposed to end several times over. He’s battled with concussions – and become an advocate for better concussion research and awareness. He lost an entire season to a knee injury and people in LA weren’t talking about if he was going to announce his retirement, they were talking about when – as in, this week or next. Even Willie Mitchell’s GM was basically convinced he was done.
Willie Mitchell was not done.
When his contract with LA ran out, he went to Florida, and he took my whole, entire heart with him. Before playing a single game for FLA, he was named their Captain. I was initially pretty surprised and skeptical, but it turns out Florida knows a good thing when they see it.
Willie Mitchell helped shepherd Aaron Ekblad’s debut into the league (although Ekblad quickly made it apparent that he doesn’t need shepherding, thank you very much). He and his wife famously (in some circles, anyway) also hosted Ekblad in their home his first year.
Less famously, Willie Mitchell served as a confidant and friend to another Panther defenseman who has battled with anxiety.
Willie Mitchell is that rare example where I am willing to throw stats to the side and say what he does for a team is bigger than what appears on the scoresheet. His work ethic and his dedication and his positivity – they – I can’t tell you what they meant to the guys in LA because I wasn’t In The Room, but I can tell you that what that team looked like before he got there and after he got there were night and fucking day. And he’s got a couple rings to show what a difference he can make.
And he’s a good person. Sometimes that’s a lot, you know?
Sometimes it’s nice to remember that those guys are out there.
Even if they have slowed down.