This game's going into overtime.
Janna MacNeil is a publicist on a mission--to change the image of the bad boys of hockey: the Stanley Cup Champion New York Blades.
Ty Gallagher is a captain on a mission--to get his team to win the Cup again...at any cost. His determination is legendary, as well as his unwillingness to toe the corporate line.
When the persistent publicist and the stubborn captain butt heads, it's hard enough to crack the ice. But they may end up melting it instead...
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February 24, 2003
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Excerpt from Body Check by Deirdre Martin
Chapter 01Not many women could boast bossing around a locker room full of buff, naked jocks as part of their job description, but then again, there weren't many women with a job like Janna MacNeil's. A publicist specializing in retooling clients' images as well as damage control, Janna had been hired by Kidco Corporation to help transform the reputation of the New York Blades, the NHL's Manhattan-based hockey franchise. To put it politely, the guys on the team were renowned for playing hard both on and off the ice. Never had this been more obvious than last season, after winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in twenty years. Everyone knows boys will be boys, but these boys brought the Cup to a number of strip joints around Manhattan, where they enjoyed the rare and singular pleasure of watching ladies with pasties and very little else "perform" with what many considered the Holy Grail of sports. Worse, rumors abounded that a photo existed of a group of players gathered around the Cup with plastic straws up their noses, heads reverently bowed to snort up a small mountain of cocaine. No wonder Janna's crusty new boss, Lou "the Bull" Capesi, guzzled Mylanta like it was spring water. The team was a PR nightmare. Janna was being paid big bucks to change all that. Edging her way through the boisterous cluster of beat writers hovering in the brightly lit, concrete hallway near the locker room door, Janna steeled herself, knowing what awaited her on the other side: naked, sweaty, male bodies. Lots of them. Big, muscled men laughing and joking with each other, flicking towels at each other's butts. Men sauntering off to the shower. Men stretching, massaging their battle-weary bones. She'd met these men-all but their captain, Ty Gallagher, who was a day late to training camp-in these very circumstances yesterday. Lou had introduced her around, and not one of them seemed fazed about parading buck naked or half undressed in front of a petite female publicist. Janna, on the other hand, had had to work hard to avoid the irresistible urge to stare, slack jawed and salivating, at the well-sculpted physiques of these guys. She made doubly sure she kept her eyes north of the equator, too. Once inside the locker room, the same scene she'd been initiated into yesterday greeted her. Some of the players lounged on the long wooden benches in front of their lockers, chatting, half dressed. Others stood at a large, rectangular table at the far end of the room, gulping down mammoth-sized glasses of Gatorade they'd poured from huge jugs. A few acknowledged her with nods; some, she thought, deliberately looked away. A boom box blasted music. The Who? Pearl Jam? She couldn't tell. The atmosphere was exuberant, almost adolescent in its giddiness. Though it was September, still pre-season, the Blades were clearly psyched about making another run for the Stanley Cup in the year ahead. She took a deep breath, trying hard to ignore the pungent odor of male sweat that was inescapable, and made for the bench closest to the center of the room, climbing up on it. Then, with all the power she could muster, she stuck her fingers in her mouth and whistled. The room fell silent as all eyes trained on her. "Listen up, guys: Now that I have your attention, I need your help." She looked around the room, carefully making eye contact with each and every player. "As you know, the Blades organization was recently purchased by Kidco Corporation, which prides itself on providing family entertainment." Boos and amused chuckles filled the room. "Kidco wants the Blades to be winners both on and off the ice, meaning they'd like each of you to give a little something back to the community you play in." She held the papers aloft in her hand. "This is a schedule of charity events going on all over the city over the course of the next year. I've highlighted those that don't conflict with your playing and travel schedule. I'd