Thursday, March 11, 2004

Ohhh, the good ole hockey game....

Imagine, me, a hockey fan?!! Who'd of thunk it?!!

I grew up in a house that revolved around hockey...and I mean REVOLVED! I remember holidays and family celebrations where the games table even had to be set up in the living room, so that everyone, except for me, could see the tv screen with hockey on it...and it didn't need to be an important game, or someone's favourite team could be some minor league game with teams they didn't even know!?! I have alot of memories of being 'shhhhed' during hockey one ever had time for my questions or comments, and so I started to dislike the game....well, except for in a couple of my tween years when the Oilers were hot and there were exciting players that appealed to us tweens like Gretsky, Lowe, Messier, etc....I watched a few 'Hockey Nights in Canada' back then....and even met Wayne Gretsky once when I was 13...I have a picture of him to prove it, signed 'To Sherri, hugs and kisses, Wayne'! I also did some on and off watching of the game in my teen years as there were cute guys in my high school who were on our local WHL team, The Blades....I actually went to a few Blades games back then...players like Dave Chartier went to school with me, and guys like Todd Struby and Marc Habshied were pretty nice...

Into my adult years though, I had kind of gotten turned off by the game. I mean, I knew so many guys who seemed to almost worship it, and I often felt like they would choose hockey over me anyday. Watching hockey with a guy was like being put into timeout in a corner...not a fun experience....and I found myself getting more critical of the game..and especially the violence.

When I met Les (my husband), he was a hockey fan. Having grown up in Vancouver...he'd grown up with his team, the Canucks. He'd also played hockey as a child...and even did some adult drop-in hockey...(he's a goalie!) And he enjoyed watching the odd game on tv, especially when his Canucks were playing.

Les was a bit apprehensive about even asking me at first if I would watch a game with him because he'd seen, first hand, the obsession for it that I had grown up in. But I knew how much he liked the game, so I agreed to watch with him. I thought we could make an evening of it. I'd make a really nice dinner...maybe we could have a glass of wine, go for a walk, and watch some hockey. It turned out to be a great evening! I really enjoyed all of it...even the I asked myself what was different about it this time?

Les is what was different. He really engaged me in the game, not shhhhing my questions. You see, I like the personal side of things...once I know more about the players - their families, their struggles, it becomes a whole human story to me...not just a game. And Les didn't discourage me in this...I think he actually came to enjoy seeing hockey through my eyes:) Well, all last winter we watched our Canucks whenever they were on Hockey Night in Canada (if we didn't have other Les is wonderful that way, his wife and his family come before his hockey:) ...and by playoff time last year, I had become quite knowledgable in the game, if I do say so myself....I even called it that Anaheim would make it to the final! Les said that he'd never experienced hockey that way see, I have different ways of looking at things and talking about hockey than your average viewer. This culminated in quite an emotional night by last year's Stanley Cup Final. To make a long story the end of the game, the Conn Smythe trophy for the MVP in the playoffs was presented to the losing team's goalie, J.S. Gigeure...and I broke out into tears, because the hockey press had done the brave thing and chosen the right person for that award (would have been much easier to give it to a player on the winning team). I knew so much of Giguere's personal story that I couldn't help but be moved. That night, Les took one look at me and said, "There's no crying in hockey!?" But I couldn't help it...and Les still loves me for it!

This year, we've continued watching our Canucks, and I will proudly tell you that I am a fan. A true Canuck fan is easy to spot...we have no problem calling our team a bunch of bums when they play that way! But the reverse is also true. I know all sorts of things about the players and I have my Nazzy, he has such soft hands (that refers to his puck handling ability), and then there's Danny-boy (Daniel Sedin, formerly known as Gretel) - long before he had shown his improvement this season, I called it, I could see it would happen...I remember Les teasing me when he saw how much I believed in him.., and then there's Clouts (I've learned alot about goalies, since my husband was one) - Clouts just got engaged, you know?! (and to his high school sweetheart:)

Anyway, rather than going on for a page about what I find remarkable or special about each player, I'll just jump to one final favourite...Berti...that's right, Todd Bertuzzi, the guy in the news...the guy who messed up this week. I could jump off the band-wagon as I'm sure many have done this week and disown Berti because of his actions, but I won't (and I'm sure glad that God doesn't do that to us when we each mess up). I still believe in Berti's talent (he's got the soft hands too...and that's a strange combo for such a big lug...he really has a way of making plays happen). I do not condone what Berti did in sucker punching Steve Moore. It was wrong, horribly wrong, and I am very disappointed in his actions, and he will face the consequences. I agree fully with his suspension for the rest of the season as announced today and the monitoring this summer. I am so relieved that Moore will make a full recovery...he's been in my prayers. I believe that Berti will have some really tough things to learn from this, but I know he will do it because I know that under it all, he does have a good heart…and my prayers will be with him and his family (wife-Julie, kids-Jade and Tag) as they step through this. Will he play again in the NHL - I don't know...with the potential lock-out next season, that part of his life might be over, but a new day will begin..

When this whole incident happened this week, it hit me really hard…it was like something was happening to someone in my extended family, and I felt a sort of responsibility for what happened because I’m a Canuck fan. My hope is that out of this all, the NHL (players, coaches, fans, refs, etc.) learn some lessons and take steps to remove violence from hockey. Violence does not need to be part of the game…look at the 2004 All-Star Game…it was one of the best games I’ve seen and there was no hitting. And while these lessons are being learned, I’m going to watch and cheer on my team as they show courage today and tomorrow in facing the aftermath of yesterday. Go! Canucks Go!

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