Imagine this, the National Media and a whole country celebrating a sporting activity for an entire day! Well, my friends from around the world, we call this day, “Hockey Day in Canada”. It would be as if, let’s say in the US, an entire day was devoted to football. You might say Super Bowl Sunday is this type of celebration but, I think not. Or perhaps you might imagine a “footy” day in Europe but, that wouldn’t even come close. We’re talking every community, small and large, from coast to coast in Canada, celebrating the penultimate winter sport.
I’m telling you, that “Hockey Day” is celebrated in just about every ice rink from coast to coast in Canada, including the high Arctic and Inuit settlements.
One community is selected to be the host for the event and this year Stratford Ontario was the “chosen one”. The national TV network, the CBC, will broadcast events all day long and will televise the three games between the Canadian NHL teams.
You see, in the cold winter months in Canada, it is often hockey that keeps families and communities together. Trips to the hockey rink, dressing squiggly little kids in their gear and freezing your butt off are all part and parcel the daily routine. Grabbing that hot Tim Horton’s coffee has almost become ritualistic to a parent of a hockey child.
Where I live, the teens gather at the rink on a Friday night to watch the “D” game. The Delhi Travellers, a junior “D” team attracts crowds of kids who watch the game and socialize. When I pick the boy up after the game, I am greeted by great throngs of kids who have gathered in the parking lot waiting for their ride home. My boy’s two buddies play on a rep team that fills the building during playoff time, this in a town of less than five thousand people. The rink becomes the community focus for the long dark days of winter. When I picked up my paper at “Dave’s Variety” this morning a group of old codgers were gathered about jawing about the previous night’s game.
Oh, of course, the ponds are frozen and pick up games are played well into the night. Even though my son has painful welts on his legs from the chaffing of his skates, he’ll proudly tell me how he “dangled” someone to score a goal.
The streets are often blocked with kids playing “road hockey” with the call of “CAR!” announcing that the nets must be cleared for a vehicle to pass by. I remember as a young boy coming home with frost bitten ears and toes that hurt so bad from being frozen that I’d cry as my mom removed my skates.
Hockey players are tough as nails. They’ve played with fractures, they’ll leave the ice to have huge cuts stitched and then return, and they often play hurt, unlike many other spoiled and pampered pros. I saw an NHL’er this past week take a slap shot in the face. He lost several teeth, ended up with thirty stitches to close his wounds and yet returned to the ice for the third period. My own face is crisscrossed with the scars from my days as an ice warrior and I never really played the game above the low amateur level.
So, how does this relate to humour you might ask? Well it is my contention that we hardy Canadians use humour as an antidote for having our ass frozen off. Indeed, the joking and kibitzing in hockey arenas, on the ponds and out on the street, reaches epic proportions when you’re fighting the bite of frigid cold air. Humour makes you laugh and jiggle and it warms your soul. And, like today, the game of hockey becomes a focus for all of that revelry.
If you’ve got a few spare minutes today to explore, why not click on the CBC link below and go see what “Hockey Day” is all about.
For those who don't buy into my thesis regarding Canadians and humour, let me end with this.
Here are two pictures of Canadian icon, Don Cherry, who is the main analyst on national hockey broadcasts through his "Coaches Corner" spot. This seventy-plus former hockey player and coach could kick Butkus's butt in a New York minute and his verbal meanderings would make John Madden's verbage appear as if he's Silent Bob.
I rest my case.