Hockey… what have I missed?!

Paul Rupert’s ‘Sunday Skaters’

Last week some of the guys at work were discussing the rules changes implemented in the NHL. That was the first I’d heard of it. Here in California, hockey isn’t exactly the spectator sport of choice (although it *has* grown in popularity). Coming from Montreal, hockey is ingrained into the culture. As soon as there is enough snow to provide adequate coverage on the roads, the hockey nets would come out and the boys on our street would play hockey… not in ice skates, mind you, but they’d still get the job done, sliding around in their boots. In the summer, the puck would be replaced by a tennis ball, and the games would continue. Many a dream of being a great hockey star was born that way… who didn’t want to be the next Yvan Cournoyer or Guy Lafleur (who later opened up a hotdogs and frites place in Montreal after he retired)?

I could skate, but those figure skates they had for girls don’t have much ankle support, and mine were notably weak… so no heroics on skates for me. I learned to skate at the Jean Beliveau area in Longueuil and our school field trips would include at least one yearly trip to the rink, and a day on Mount Royal, where we’d spend part of the day skating on Beaver Lake.

As I got older, I would hang out at the rink with my (various and sundry) boyfriends, keeping score and monitoring penalty minutes well into the night. During the play-offs my friends and I would gather from house to house to watch. Pity there isn’t a “Hockey Night in Canada” equivalent here. You could bet I’d watch. To see a hockey game at the Forum was awesome too. My boyfriend’s boss had season rink side tickets, right by the goalie, so we’d see some great skirmishes for the puck.

After I got married and moved to California in ’93, I was still religously following the play-offs… especially since the final players were the Montreal Canadiens and the L.A. Kings. This is how I got what my husband likes to refer to as my “hockey injury”. The Habs must have scored and when I jumped up in celebration, my right arm shooting up into the air, I threw out my neck and needed to go see the chiropractor for an adjustment. Well… of course I could only image the rioting and pillaging that ensued afterwards in downtown Montreal. It never failed… after every cup win, Ste-Catherine Street would get thrashed. I worked downtown and would see the results. Astonishing.

Well, the Canadiens haven’t won since, I’m sorry to admit, but the Nordiques are now the Avalanche… and the NHL is a different place to be. So… what’s this about new rules? Maybe I need to tune in to ESPN more often. Maybe I need to invest in a pair of Langes and find a rink. 🙂 Maybe I need to go to bed.


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