What I write now, I write with the most confident of assurances. This story was passed to me by a reputable source, high up in the organization. I cannot utter his name, but to damn him to a similar fate as described below. Suffice it to say, what I write is true, to the best of my knowledge...
Nolan was fired: to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. The register of his termination was signed by Bettman, Pegula, Black, and Hasek - for good measure. Murray signed it, and Murray was not the type to put his name to anything uncertain. Nolan was surely fired.
How it came to be, then, that Nolan would visit the NHL’s most curmudgeonly general manager, is a matter of personal belief, I suppose. Was it a ghost? A dream? Whatever it was, Murray pulled the sheet up to his quivering chin. “Ted? By God, Ted, is that you? What do you want with me?
The glowing, mulleted apparition sauntered forward toward the cowering Canadian. “Yeeeeeeeeeees,” he moaned, “It is I, Ted Nolan. We have much to discuss, Tim. In my last days as coach, we were complicit, you and I.”
Murray clutched his hands to his chest. “Mercy! Why do you trouble me?”
Nolan took another step, and in the light of the glowing fire, it became apparent that he was wrapped in tank treads, “It is not I who troubles, you Tim!,” Nolan howled, “IT IS YOU WHO TROUBLES YOU! YOU designed the tank, and now I suffer from its weight! But your suffering has ended! Do you see it? DO YOU? You frown while your plan comes to fruition before you, and all those who suffer bear the weight, while you enjoy the spoils of our toil. Tonight, you will be visited by three spirits, each with a message for you. Heed their words, Tim Murray! Heed them weeeeeeeeeeeeeeellllllllll!!!!!” And with that, the Windows flew open and the frigid winter air extinguished the fire; the room was cold, silent, and as dark as Murray’s soul. He whimpered, waiting for another sign he wasn’t alone. Eventually, he rose from his bed, shut the windows, relit the fire, and after a time, fell into a deep sleep.
“Tim,” came a whisper, but Murray did not stir. “Tim!” The whisper was more insistent, but still, nothing. “TIM!” Even at a loud whisper, the sound was like a shout, and echoed off of the walls of the stark room. Murray bolted upright “WHAT WHO HUH?” He looked about the room, confused. “Who...who calls for me?”
“It’s me,Tim,” came a mumble from the hall.
“Who is me?”
“It’s me. Your first trade as a general manager. You mortgaged my career for the future, Tim. Do you remember me?” As he spoke, a gaunt figure passed through the closed door. Shaggy black hair hung sweat-slicked and disheveled. The scraggle of several days without shaving covered the bony cheeks. “Ryan? Is that you? Can it be?”
“Yes. Ryan Miller. The face of the franchise from an age ago. Do you remember, Tim? My Amp commercial? My time as an NHL spokesperson? I was your destiny!”
“No,” Murray shook his head. “Not my destiny. I wasn’t here. That was...for someone else.”
“It could have been for you, Tim. I could have signed. We could have done it all. Together! But you gave me away. For what?! Another, low-rent goalie? A poor man’s Evander Kane?” If the skeleton-visage had emotion, he would be yelling. His words, though, were barely audible.
“No,” Murray said more emphatically. “You are nothing more than a ghost of your former self. I have goaltending. They don’t have your name - the false success tied to your face, but they are good. We are good.” Murray who had been looking down, lifted his chin and levied his finger. “I didn’t need you. I don’t need you!” The wind outside began to howl, and the apparition began to look pained. “BEGONE, SPIRIT,” Murray shouted. “I DON’T NEED YOU!”
The room fell silent again, with only the crackle of the wood from the fireplace breaking the the tepid quiet. Tired, Murray laid back down, closing his eyes. He didn’t think sleep would…
STAY TUNED FOR THE CONCLUSION OF THIS EXCITING CHRISTMAS TALE!