Saturday, November 5, 2016

Hockey: Canucks versus Oilers

The guys and I went to a hockey game with the Canucks playing the Edmonton Oilers.  The Oilers won 2 to 1.  There were a whole lot of zealous oiler fans at the game.  After the Fort McMurray fire and the second time the Federal Liberals, the time Justin  Trudeau, just like his father, Pierre Trudeau,  had thrown the province of Alberta under the bus. The Trudeau energy decisions as always ruined the western provinces for the sake of Quebec.    Quebec had taken 45 billion in transfer payments but now wouldn't even allow a pipe line to cross the province so Albertans could keep their jobs.  Hence the Albertans, Canada’s own uncared for refugees, were migrants to  British Columbia.   So it was kind of good to see these Canadian refugees, displaced and betrayed, cheering their home team as they no doubt wondered when, if ever, they would get back to Alberta.
Hockey has always been dear to me. I grew up playing it with my brother.  My nephews in Ottawa are big Senator fans. Whenever I visit at Christmas  NHL hockey is playing on the television.
When my brother Ron and I were kids, we’d walk to the outdoor rink through waist high snow. We’d shovel off the rink to play. There’d be a wood stove we’d sit around in the old club house putting on our skates. I’d always have freezing toes. My mom would help me get my skates off and warm my feet holding them in her hands.  Boris Tyzuk and his father were always there.  Other than the coach it was always just Boris and my mother who seemed to be there cheering us kids on.  I’ve always thought that explained why Boris became a Rhodes Scholar and I ended up in Medical School. We were just like any other kids but we sure had a whole lot of love and support from our parents.
Walking home with my brother, my mother always had a Wagon Wheel she’d give us for the walk home. I’d be so tired. I played hockey age 5 to 12. My brother played till he  was 16.
Hockey Night in Canada was a great time. My brother and I would put on our hockey sweaters, mine the blue Toronto Maple Leafs and his the red Montreal Canadians. Back then when we were kids Quebec was part of Canada and not separated by Trudeau’s polices.   Dad was in high spirits. We’d all be shouting at the game. Mom would have pop corn or mandarin oranges, always thinking of what would make her boys happy. She was as much a hockey fan as the rest of us and the whole family shouted at the TV screen, so much so that the dog would start barking.  Dad would be laughing so hard and we kids would be squealing and Mom would be trying to keep order while laughing herself.  Sometimes in intermission Dad would roll off the couch and start wrestling and tickling us kids. Naturally the dog would join in.  Bedlam in the Hay home until the intermission ended and the hockey game began again.   Dad always had the couch. Mom had her comfortable chair.  Ron and I usually sat on the floor up close to the tv.  It was in black and white in those days.
Later I’d play in the Old Time League in the country, in the Comox Valley. A former NHL hockey player who had had a few cardiac bypass operations would skate circles around us at supersonic speeds. It brought home better than anything could the difference between amateur and professional.
The Canucks and Oilers are the best professional teams.  Tom was talking a week before of the incredible playing of the new Oilder player, McDavid.  “He’s the new Goreski. I’m looking forward as much to seeing him play as I am to the game.”  Watching McDavid play surely was worth the price of admission. Dave loves hockey too. His eyes never left the game once the puck was dropped.
I love  Canuck’s Sedin brothers. Watching them skate and stick handle is like watching ballet on ice.  The game was so well played by both teams that it took on a choreographed quality.  Getting the puck, passing, skating, lots of shots on goal and great saves by the goalies. The Oilers  just had the edge.  Miller, the Canucks goalie, was terrific,  only letting one shot through. The other goal was on a power play when no one was in the Canucks goal.
James and Kevin, a couple of fathers of young children sat together while I sat between Tom and Dave, a couple of older guys like me.  We’d hear the young guys screaming their heads off at times.  It’s amazing the energy at a hockey game.  Great music.  Lots of fun filming that showed up on the big screen. Michelle sang O Canada so beautifully I had tears.  We all stood and sang along.
I love Zamborni Machines. Just watching them cleaning the ice and all the young kids coming out with shovels warms my heart.  Then the kids there with their parents.  It’s such a family event, hockey games.  And this one was so close to Halloween that a whole lot of people came in costume and the best won a contest they richly deserved, the girl a perfect zombie if she wasn’t so beautiful. Dave and Tom and I liked Wonderwoman a whole lot too.  She was with a guy.  All we could for was some major crime happening so she would  rescue us.  
When people talk about Canadian culture and multi culturalism like Canada is an uncultured place, I point to hockey.  America has its football. The rest of the world has it’s soccer.  Canada has hockey and the game defines us.  I believe it’s the greatest game in the world and there’s a philosophy, theology and poetry that affects the northern soul playing it but also just watching it.  Admittedly cave men played soccer and football but hockey like baseball involves a tool so it didn’t develop until people were far more advanced culturally  mentally. There’s teammanship in other games. Yet hockey is extremely  fast. Only polo with horses is faster.  It’s highly dangerous too and not at all for politically correct easily offended not yet off the breast sorts of adults.  Girls play hockey but it is akin to rugby in it’s contact capabilities. Everything about hockey is marvellous.  I truly believe it’s God’s game. In Canada we say, we’re not doing something till hell freezes over.  A true Canadian, a man of high culture, will skate his way through any challenge.  
All too soon the game was over. It was great to get together with the guys.  I’ve been going to Canucks games over a quarter of a century, given the cost, maybe one or two ever year or so.  This group of guys make it a whole lot of fun.  Looking forward to the next time.
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