It’s not really a secret that I love hockey. Ok, so it’s not a secret at all, it’s more like a glaring mark on the center of my forehead that screams “HOCKEY FAN WITHIN!!!”
I learned the basics of the game watching my brother play as a little kid, I learned to enjoy it as time wore on (because it was either enjoy it or lose my mind in the arena for yet another hockey tournament) and then I started to grow up. I wanted more time with my Dad and I knew taking him shopping more than once a year wasn’t the best way to achieve that, so I started going to hockey games with him. Somewhere in between
talking his ear clear off meaningful conversations on the drive to and from Chilliwack and the shared Nachos (pre-corn allergy invasion) I learned something pivitol – I didn’t just want to come to hockey for my Dad (or contrary to popular belief, the boys) I wanted to come to hockey for, well…the hockey! I’d fallen in love with a game that is full of action, excitement, talent and a little fist-a-cuffs. I’d discovered that hockey, the real hockey happened long before the million dollar pay cheque was even a dream, and true talent happened when a 16 year decided there was nothing he wanted more than a chance to play this game for the rest of his life.
These days my cheering is more pee in the potty instead of puck in the goal and while I don’t have the time to spend in an arena that I used to, a part of my heart still belongs to “The Hockey”.
Back in the day, when Junior hockey ruled my days, I decided that if I was forced to watch professional hockey (eg – guys who no doubt have talent on ice but DO NOT deserve a pay cheque larger than the guy who has a talent in the OR and you know SAVES A LIFE!) I would NOT be cheering for the Canucks. Partly because winning seemed to be their stomach flu – get a goal or two and then puke all over yourself losing the game in a huge mess, partly because something about Marcus Naslund made me feel like I had the stomach flu and partly because my Dad cheered for them and while I wanted to bond with him, I also love a good banter…
So, I looked around and settled on the Maple Leafs – Curtis Joseph was rocking the goal back then, they were Canadian and let’s face it Blue + White = Pretty! I followed, I have a jersey, I wore hats and I was set. I was committed and the past, ahem 10 years or so, that hasn’t changed. I’m nothing if not loyal – and I don’t believe in the jumping of bandwagons.
(Sidenote: This fan loyalty extended far enough that I even had a Canuck bib we were given when Bethy was a baby that is still in its wrapper. I was all “Dude, you’re not going to taint my kid with that garbage”)
And then cross contamination happened!
Bethany and Audrey fell in love with hockey (duh), not only that but they fell in love with watching hockey with Papa. The regular season slipped into the playoffs, and Papa’s guys were playing, so the girls were watching. As teams slipped away and the Canucks became the only Canadian team still in it, I remained strong. Only watching a game if we were at Grammy and Papa’s with the kids, avoiding the aisle in the stores full of Canuck Crap, I mean souvenirs and saying things like “Stanley who?” I rolled my eyes at the constant game day Facebook status updates (I may still do that) and pretty much stood my ground.
Then I really watched a game, my pulse raced, my fingers tingled and I’m pretty sure my pupils dilated. I missed this!
In an effort to make Papa smile Corey and I purchased Canucks shirts for our girls (who happen to only wear them if hockey is on), we put the game on at home and then it happened – I let a big ol’ “WAHOO!” when they won game 1 of this series.
A hush fell over our living room and Corey (who’s slowly starting to jump onto the hockey train. Although I still hear more than once a game “What’s offside again?!” looked at me and I knew I was caught.
Me. The staunch, anti-Canuckist, was cheering for the Canucks. Tonight, I really need to go clothes shopping (when I say I own nothing that fits it’s not an exaggeration. Belts no longer keep my pants up and I feel like I spent a good portion of the day doing the Urkle Hike ’em up) but I don’t want to miss the game, so I’ll wait. I’ll make dinner, build a big ol’ hockey night bed in the living room, I’ll pull out TV trays, we’ll spend our evening watching hockey, as a family and we’ll cheer. For the Canucks.
Ladies and Gentlemen, it IS official, Hell has finally frozen over.
*Please note this DOES NOT MEAN (Dad) that I will continue to cheer for them at the end of this season. If they win the Stanley Cup I will cheer because they are Canadian and it matters to you. If they lose I will keep my rubbing it in your face to myself, because I’m a grown up like that. And when next season rolls around all bets are off, and you’ll be able to find me tucked away safely in camp Maple Leaf, because that’s really where I belong.*
(Sidenote #I don’t know how many: I also watched Jeff Tambellini play hockey for our Chilliwack Chiefs for 2 years and nostalgia may have something to do with why I’m watching. It’s like seeing one of your kids grow up.)