Two Minute Penalties was written in the spring of 2004 during the National Hockey League playoffs. It was inspired by Frank Downey’s Curse of the Bambino and I followed some pretty strict rules in writing it.

Specifically, the rule was that the story had to be written around an actual hockey playoff series as it was happening. Each chapter had to incorporate a game, and had to be posted (to Storiesonline) within 24 hours of the completion of the game.

This turned into an interesting challenge. I had to lay out a story and plot, without knowing how each game would turn out, and therefore whether Liz would win or lose a particular bet. I also had no idea how many games the series would run, which is why there’s an overtime chapter. After Game 5, I decided that the odds were that either the Detroit or Colorado series would go to seven games, and so I laid out what would happen in the last two chapters. Then they both lost, leaving me with an extra chapter, that was posted a little later.

That said, it was a lot of fun. I’d write while watching the hockey game and then furiously after it was over. At the time, I was living alone (my now-wife and I were dating but hadn’t moved in together) and there’s no way I could have pulled it off if I’d had obligations in the evenings. It also helped that the games were spaced two days apart, giving me an evening to get a jump start on the next chapter and write up until the game needed to be included.

Unfortunately, the next year, the NHL players got locked out and there was no hockey. When it returned, the salary cap killed the Colorado Avalanche, forcing them to let go of many of their best players. They’ve struggled since, and the rivalry with Detroit just hasn’t been the same. So in many ways, this story is a snapshot of 2004, that is not likely to be repeated in the near future.