Hockey Blight in Canada

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A bit of a departure from fish and politics today just to touch on a little sports since the shenanigans in the hockey arenas around Newfoundland and Labrador have been making headlines in recent months.

I used to play hockey. But I really don’t lace them up that much anymore. It’s mostly about availability, because really you’re lucky to find ice time before 1 a.m. in a rink anywhere on the Avalon Peninsula.

The truth is, I don’t know why I bother at all.

There are so many things about the game I hate intensely, apart from actually enjoying a good skate. As a result, I’m not very good at it, nor do I care to be.

See, the truth is, I never had many great experiences at any level in the game as a child or an adult.

Actually that’s not true: there was one year the harbor froze and I remember vividly skating in around longliners to retrieve pucks – that was fun, and probably stupid dangerous. But I digress.

I think we take hockey far too seriously — there’s far too much money involved and there’s far too many cowboys and cowgirls out there who want little Junior to be the next Newfoundlander in the NHL.

As a young boy, I loved the game and played minor hockey. My two best memories are playing on a bantam team with a coach named Dean who was the best coach I’ve seen in any sport, anywhere. I forged friendships with guys on that team that have lasted to this day. That was fun.

My other memory is being a 12-year-old and having a prominent Newfoundland hockey player throw his glove at me and embarrass me in front of about 80 of my peers during a hockey camp because I did a drill wrong. That was not fun. It busts my guts now when I hear that idiot talking publicly about fair play and the state of the game.

I tried coaching for a while but that got old quickly. Turns out the kids — 11 year olds — were more mature than the parents in some cases.

For a time I covered sports as a reporter, and hockey was central to those efforts during the winter. I watched parents and fans say and do some heinous stuff. I watched an enraged man reach over the glass one night during a game and grab the referee by his helmet.

I had a man threaten bodily harm on me for using the word “enforcer” to describe his son’s role on a Major Junior team after his stats showed significant PIMs and very few G’s or A’s.

I saw horrific injuries, insane fights, puddles of blood, money being tucked into this pocket and that pocket to play ‘amateur” hockey.

And now we’re hearing about sitting MHA’s being nitwits at hockey games, reports of violence among parents at the rink, executives quitting over disputes, girls being prevented from playing the game against other girls, and all kinds of other crap.

Time to take a chill pill people — it’s a game. Stop living vicariously through your kids and treating hockey like it’s the damn military. Let the kids play the game and maybe you stay the hell out of it eh?

I know I just totally wasted my breath, but that’s it I guess. We love whizzing against the wind around here.

No, for me, hockey is reduced to an occasional Saturday night NHL game, an admitted love for Olympic hockey (the World Juniors and the pressure we put on a bunch of teenagers makes me gag), and an occasional skate in a recreation league whenever they’re down a player.

Jamie Baker is the managing editor for The Navigator magazine, www.thenavigatormagazine.com

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