Friday, February 3, 2012

For Hockey Fans Everywhere

For Canadians, hockey is not a sport, it's a religion.

My husband has played in a local league for as long as I've known him, even before we started dating, so we're talking thirty-plus years. Game night took precedence over everything and everyone. I understood from the beginning that hockey night was sacred and nothing interfered with his schedule, not dinner parties, not evening classes, not even childbirth. After the birth of our second and third kids, I shooed my husband out of the hospital room to go and play with les boys. He would have stayed, but I knew from his restlessness that he wanted to share the news of another baby with his buddies and, well, since he was there, lace up his skates and play a bit of shinny.

I got to know pretty much all of the guys on his team over the years because they'd phone me ("Oui bonjour, Madame Secretaire!") for the master list when they were looking for a spare. They were an interesting bunch of people; one might even say, a motley crew. One player had only one arm but was as skilled as a professional in the NHL, L. was a woman who once won gold for Canada on the women's team, and Stewie, well, he was in his 80s and still skating. The only rule was, "If Stewie gets the puck, Stewie keeps the puck. No contact, point final."

My first question to someone calling to cancel was always "are you the goalie?" because goalies are gods in the game of hockey. Not having a goalie meant a mad scramble to find a replacement. We even had the sixteen-year-old kid down the street on retainer with an offer of a lift and cash. If a goalie couldn't be found or bribed, the game would go on, but the thrill was sacrificed and it became less a game and more a form of exercise with a puck and skates.

I went to watch my husband play only once. I went to all our kids' games (our son and one of our daughters played.) The stands were full of fans made up of siblings and parents and grandparents so it was usually a noisy affair, the gossiping over arena coffee punctuated by whistles and cheers when a goal was scored, or jeers when a ref made a bad call.

So I decided to be fair and attend one of my husband's games. It was, to put it kindly, anti-climactic. Because the games take place in the hours no one wants, late at night or early morning, the stands are always empty, the only sound that of the hissing ventilation system and the mop and pail of the arena cleaning staff.

So when I saw this video, I thought of my husband and his team. And what it would have meant to them to have this happen to them. My husband would be the guy sitting on the ice at the end.

"And the chicken is loving it." Favourite line.


Vicki Pettersson said...

Thanks. Now I'm crying.

A Novel Woman said...

I know, eh?

I said eh.

SUCH a Canuck...

Vicki Pettersson said...

You know James played too, right? I sent it on to him.

Linda G. said...

Oh, man. That brought tears to my eyes, and I don't even like hockey. How goofy is that?

Yutha said...

I knew this video would remind you of Doug. (my verification word is "shint"...a combination of shinny and shit?)

Malcolm R. Campbell said...

Since Georgia seldom has really cold weather, we're not a place with skating rinks, much less hockey. We do have some friends who moved here from New Jersey and they don't miss hockey games whenever they find them on TV. Best I can tell, one's supposed to get into fights on the ice.

btw, since I enjoy reading this blog, I awarded you with a versatile blogger award. You're on your own recognizance when it comes to accepting it. :-)

See this post:


Lesa said...

I attended about a million baseball games with my brothers as they were growing up. I can only imagine how thrilled they would have been if something like that happened. What an amazing idea! Thanks so much for writing (so well!) and sharing it.

Debby said...

You know people. Get the families together. Make it happen. It would be a night to remember, alright.