Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Who needs the NHL?

I'm a hockey girl. I'll admit it. Growing up in a village of roughly 1400 people, early mornings on the ice learning to figure skate, frozen marathon skating sessions on the pond and Hockey Night in Canada each Saturday night are just some of the things that make me a quintessential Canadian. My dad hailed from Toronto, so naturally we were a Leafs household. Save your remarks, once a Leafs girl, always a Leafs girl.

With my dad's passing almost four years ago, every time I watch hockey or discuss it, I am instantly brought back to great memories with him. From going to watch the AHL team - The Cornwall Aces, and waiting for an autograph from Reggie Savage to skating on Maple Leaf Gardens with my dad and touring the Hockey Hall of Fame, this Canadian sport is in my blood. The recent hockey strike and now return to salvage what is left of the season, I found myself thinking about how this really affected people and our local community.

My first thought is that professional hockey players make too much money. I'll admit, I am not up on the politics of the sport, so perhaps I am missing some information and don't realize why they get paid so much, but I stand by my thought on that topic. My second thought is that the people whose everyday jobs and businesses depend on the NHL were more likely the real casualties of this strike.

 My third and final thought was about the many people who are missing out on the simple enjoyment of the game and creating memories with their loved ones. I have three girls and a spouse who loves hockey. Admittedly, he cheers for the wrong team- I mean, the Canucks? C'mon! However, I do want our girls to have the same daddy/daughter moments with him that I was lucky enough to share with my dad. Yes, I will absolutely share my love for hockey with my girls but there is a rite of passage in our household that daddy gets Hockey Night In Canada with them too.

In the absence of the NHL, our family attended a Brockville Braves home game last Friday. This was the first time we have ever been, and to my suprise, the arena was full!  I love our city, I just had no idea how much our residents loved our hockey team! It was nice to teach my daughter about a favourite sport of mine and it was an emotional moment as I realized how it must have felt for my dad to share his hockey passion with me as a child. At just three, my daughter was more concerned with "what hockey player do you think has the best hair momma?" then the actual score, but at the end of the night, we all left with big smiles and a bit of "Braves pride" because we cleaned the ice with the opposing team.

I am happy that the NHL has started to straighten themselves out, but I'm pretty sure my dad would be proud that my girls are going to learn about hockey - the sport he loved - at a local and grassroots level, as that is where the true spirit of this great Canadian sport begins!

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