Sunday, February 28, 2010

That Good Old Hockey Game

For those from around the world who have tuned in to watch the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, you may have noticed something:  Canadians Love Hockey.


Is that the right word?

It's more like a feeling in our core.  This thing we all feel akin to.  A sport that bonds each and every Canadian in some way.

Me?  Yeah, I like the game.  I'm not a fanatic like others (Tara), but I like it.  You see, if I let myself watch it too closely, I can get slightly obsessed.  Sort of like these Olympics.  I get too emotionally involved.

Like every other Canadian, I know.

But it's not a good scene.

When the Flames lost in game 7 during the Stanley Cup play-offs in 2004, I was in London.  I called my parents balling from a red phone booth.  I walked down those cobblestoned streets sobbing my eyes out. My American roomates/classmates had no idea what was wrong with me.  A game right?

Secondly, I am a Flames fan.  The Engineer is an Oilers fan (if you are American, this is like Yankees/Redsox).  Our truly bad fight a few years back involved these two teams.  I insisted the Engineer leave my house.  Forever.

Over hockey.

This crazy sport on ice really does touch almost every citizen.  Everyone has a story.

Take the Engineer.  Not unlike this Tim Horton's commercial,

he wasn't allowed to play hockey as a little boy.  So what does he do now?  Plays hockey.  His friend moved here from India in high school. He never saw snow, let alone ice, in his life.  He's been spending these last few years learning how to play that good old hockey game.

The good man I spoke of a few entries ago who passed away was my dad's cousin.  My dad grew up on a farm in rural Alberta.  When I commented that Alex had always been 'husky' my dad smiled and told me that they used to put him in goal hoping not many pucks would get past his size.  This made me smile.  I could just see these farm boys running to the outdoor rink after doing their farm chores, for a game of twilight hockey (at 3pm).

And that's what hockey is.

A game that every boy played.  From crude ice skate rinks made by dads in the backyard, to frozen ponds, to the community centre - every boy I grew up with played the sport.  And sometimes we did too.  But I didn't skate, I preferred to run on my pics hoping to keep up.  To this day, when I walk into a community centre and that smell of ice, equipment and hot chocolate hits me, I am taken back to Friday nights in high school.  They were spent cheering on the team your crush played for.  For me, that was the St. Boniface Seals.

Tomorrow it doesn't matter if you're a Flames, Oilers or Canucks fan.  What matters is that you are a Canadian fan.  And we'll be watching, all 36 million of us, as our boys bring gold to where it belongs.  The girls already did!

For those of you who don't get us Canadians and our hockey obsession, check out the man who sang it best:  Stompin' Tom Connors.

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