It;s 4:45 pm on New Year’s Eve Day here in Yugoslavia. I’m listening to TSN Radio Montreal and waiting for the puck to drop in Malmo, Sweden, in 45 minutes, where our juniors will dance the annual NYE smashmouth tango
with the hated Mairkans who kicked our asses in Russia last year and skated away with our gold medals.
I have said this for many years, and will repeat it again right now – hockey is the only thing that makes me patriotic. There is nothing I hate more than losing to the Mairkans, there is nothing I love more than seeing our guys skating over a trail of Mairkan blood and tears on the way to collecting their gold medals.
I could struggle and fumble around trying to find the words to explain this feeling, but some brilliant copywriter did it for me (and, no, I don’t care that NIke is a Mairkan company that exploits children – well, that’s not true, I do care, and am not encouraging anyone to buy Nike products, merely giving a tip of the hat to the folks who created this commercial.
Now, I could acknowledge that my love affair with Canadian hockey is stupid, that patriotism is stupid, and go on to analyze exactly why. But you know what? I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to do that because I still love Canadian hockey and I will never stop loving Canadian hockey, nor will I ever apologize for it.
When I see our guys skate on to the ice, I’m nine years old again., watching Paul Henderson beat Vladislav Tretiak, that Godless, communist, with 34 seconds left on the clock,to win the 1972 Summit Series over the Russian robots who had scared the Hell out of a nation.
I’m 13 years old, watching Darryl Sittler score the winner, in overtime, to win the first Canada Cup in 76 over the Czechs
But more importantly, I’m ten years old, it’s a Saturday morning and I am trudging through hip high snow with my straight blade Hespeler stick, my Bauer Black Panter skates and a pocketful of pucks, to get to the outdoor rink, where I will spend the rest of the day pretending that I am Bobby Orr and dreaming of winning the Stanley Cup, or even just our house league championship.
I’m 14 years old, pulling on my Daoust 301s
and ragging the puck around with my Sherwood PMP 5030
on a Tuesday night, dreaming of playing junior for the Brandon Wheat Kings or the Soo Greyhounds, instead of doing homework, and dreading the rinkrat flicking the lights on and off to tell us that we have just five more minutes before it is time to go home.
I’m 12 years old, walking into the Fort William Gardens, wearing my KC All Stars team jacket, for the first day of the Elks Central Canada Peewee tournament, thrilled to finally being a part of something that was so much bigger than me, and even bigger than life. I’m wide-eyed, wandering around the Gardens, seeing all the other teams that had come from far and wide to battle for the gold medallions that are more valuable to us than real gold could ever be. I am a part of something. I am not alone. As this Canadian Tire commercial so brilliantly makes clear, there’s no such thing as… well, no, just watch it
I am 50 years old now. That child that was me is a long time ago, and a long way away. But without hockey, I don’t think I can ever be that kid again. I don’t want that to happen because I like that kid.
And if you don’t like hockey or sports, just shut your fucking mouth and do your own thing, or drop ’em, fucker, and get ready to spit chiclets,
’cause I’MA go all Bobby Clarke on your Kharlamov ass.
Okay, enough of that shit – game on.
Go Canada go!