By Bill LeConey
The Press of Atlantic City
MARGATE, N.J. March 13 – “You are a traveler at heart. There will be many journeys.” — Message in a Chinese fortune cookie given to Scott Stirling at a Ventnor restaurant.
Heather Stirling laughs at the fortune. Confucius was never married to a minor-league hockey player.
She is alone at home again, her husband the goalie off to another rink in another town. The cell phone connects the dots of their hockey road map: “Can you get to New Haven for the Yale-Brown game? “I’m stuck in traffic on I-95, so go ahead and I’ll meet you there.”
The word “home” is an illusion. The Margate house is rented to the Stirlings by the Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies, who own Scott’s contract for the seven months he is scheduled to play in the East Coast Hockey League this season.
But the goalie is currently loaned to Bridgeport, Conn., of the American Hockey League, his seventh call-up to his fourth different team this season. He had just returned from a road trip with the Bullies to Cincinnati and Johnstown, Pa., when the Sound Tigers called again.
Flexibility. Respect. Loyalty. Patience. These are the words that describe the Stirlings’ marriage, which is less than a year old.
Their lives bounce on the puppet strings of hockey executives in Uniondale, N.Y., or St. Louis. Heather can’t see the future beyond the next AHL transaction wire.