The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

January 5, 2007

HOCKEY NIGHT IN SWEDEN



ALMOST CERTAINLY, NO ONE OUTSIDE CANADA OR RUSSIA WILL CARE...OR WILL EVEN BE AWARE.

But perhaps thousands of Canadians took a sick day off work today to watch our team -- with a heavy Winnipeg flavour -- beat Russia 4-2 today at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Sweden.

This tournament means everything to Canada, which has now won it three times in a row. We held the WJHC here in 1999 and every game involving Canada was sold out, to the rafters.

Why do we care so much?

Because we are barely 30 million people, walking in the shadow of the world's only superpower that excels at everything. We live in what many call a frozen wasteland for much of the year.

What else could we POSSIBLY be better at, potentially, than anyone else? Hockey or curling or speed skating or figure skating. Kinda makes sense, don't it? Ice, Ice, Baby.

But to beat the powerful Russians, who live on a mostly vast expanse of ice itself, a country of about 10 times our population, where hockey is also a way of life...


That's some of them above, celebrating a goal.


We also beat them last year in Vancouver. And we beat the Americans in the gold-medal game the year before that, in Grand Forks, North Dakota, barely an hour south of here.

I have a particularly warm feeling about this year's championship.


Canada's best forward, Jonathan Toews, only 18, is from Winnipeg. I've written about him before and I've most often been the main guy covering his progress.

He scored four goals in this tournament, including today's third (winning) goal, after scoring three times in three shots in a shootout Thursday to beat the Americans in the semifinal.

He was named today to the all-star team and in my opinion should have been named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.


He was the third pick overall by the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks last summer and will be an NHL star.



Another good player for Canada, Darren Helm, wasn't even supposed to make the Canadian team but he did.

He's from St. Andrews, near Winnipeg. I talked to him by phone when he made the team. One of those classic stories about the kid who realized his potential or who overachieved.


That's him above, the blond-haired kid. He's 19, was drafted by the Detroit Red Wings and will be with them as early as next season. He scored two goals in one of the games this past week.

Another reason this is a bit closer to my heart is that I covered the 1991 WJHC in Turku, Finland, the coming-out party for players like Jaromir Jagr and Eric Lindros.

The photographer who took the above pictures, Jacques Boissinot of The Canadian Press, was my accompanying photographer that year, so that's another bit of Karma.

Again, I realize no one outside Canada is likely to care about this, any more than I'd likely be captivated by the Australian Rugby League title or the cricket ashes.

But hundreds of thousands of Canadians -- no, probably millions -- will have their chests pumped out just a little more proudly for the next bit.

I hope you can forgive that burst of momentary elation over Toews (left) and Helm (right).

By Monday, we'll be back to our regularly scheduled quiet politeness.




18 comments:

  1. Victory ! I can feel your enthousiasm all the way till here across the ocean.
    Although late, I want to express my appreciation for you cherub-shot-in-the-back-post. It was a good decision to post it, it makes things clear, your analysis of why love sometimes isn't answered : very good, together with the comments it helps to put things in perspective when one struggles with this issue.

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  2. Hi. My name is Anna. I'm a Canadian and I know nothing about hockey. However, I did enjoy reading your post because I, like hildegarde, could also feel your enthusiasm. How wonderful it must be to love what you do so much. :)

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  3. Hildegarde:

    No problem being late, late, for a very important date.

    And that's another possible cause of why love doesn't click...a case of bad timing. Wouldja say?

    Anna:

    I'm sure you're introducing yourself to my legions of wordwide fans for their benefit.

    It's certainly not for ours, seeing as we loiter around each other's places quite often.

    My question to you is, how can you be a Canadian -- how can you be a Montrealer, yet -- and not be a Canadiens' hockey fan?

    My enthusiasm would be much higher if I was in Sweden, a place I've never visited.

    But you are right...for the most part, I love talking to these young kids about their lives, once you get past their cliches and let them know you want them to speak in English...

    ;-)

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  4. I know, I know... I'm a Montrealer and it's almost illegal for me to not be a Canadiens fan. Does it make it better that I used to be a fan throughout high school and through part of my college years? I would even wait in line in the freezing cold at 7:00 on a Saturday morning (I'm the furthest thing from a morning person) outside of the Forum (ahhh, the good old days of the Forum) to buy tickets to hockey games! I even left school (grade 9 at the time) to go to the Stanley Cup parade back in 1986! The crowd and the noise and the dehydration got to me so badly that I felt myself fainting and had to lean on a friend. Have I redeemed myself yet? :) Then I simply got sick of watching all the fist fights during games and got totally turned off. I've never looked back since then.

    Re: the music
    I laughed so hard when I saw his face! After I stopped laughing, I just shook my head. I don't remember his name though. It's at the tip of my tongue. I keep thinking Bill Wong. I hate it when I have these memory lapses.

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  5. Anonymous8:39 PM

    I care :-)

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  6. Anna:

    So what you meant to say was you are a Canadian, you know EVERYTHING about hockey, but you hate it.

    Nonetheless, you appear to have passed the test for at one time being a hockey fan.

    The entire country forgives you.

    The music:

    Yeah, but doesn't he have a fantastic voice?

    Laurie:

    Thanks. We Canajuns need all the lovin' we can get...

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  7. Anonymous10:06 PM

    Woah! Back up a little, fella!
    When you were ( probably) in short trousers I was an avid reader of the Toronto Star Weekly's hockey column in my home country of New Zealand.By the time the paper reached my town it was 'way out of date, but I didn't care.
    And I still like to watch ice hockey games on tv when we get them.Asutralia is not a hockey country!If I had cable or stellite or whatever I would need, I'd probably follow Stanley Cup.
    But you need not change your lead line;I'll accept a grovelling apology!
    Oh yes, well done, Canada.

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  8. OK, here's my grovelling apology...

    But now I'm intrigued. My brother-in-law played hockey in Oz for a year many moons ago, so I know there's a bit of it there...

    But your origins are Kiwi (are New Zealanders OK with that expression?)and you spent some time in the UK along with Down Under.

    How the heck did you develop an interest in hockey?

    Going to put on my short trousers now...

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  9. Anonymous1:13 AM

    Ice Ice Baby....

    My wonderful neighbors to the north have also excelled in sending us some very talented comedians!

    I admit to knowing next to nothng about hockey except for the fights I hear about sometimes.

    The love you have for the sport shows.

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  10. I love hockey. Can you believe that? When I lived in New Jersey in the 80's I watched hockey every time I had a chance. Unfortunately, I watched it for the wrong reason - I could not wait for the guys to bash each others' brains in the arena. I did follow the New Jersey Devils (is that correct?) I like Wayne Gretsky, I can't remember who he played for and for the longest time I wondered if his teeth were real as he has a beautiful smile. I love the hockey players flashing their tootthless smiles.

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  11. Pam:

    Yes, we have exported some funny people, haven't we?

    Most people who don't know much about hockey or are in areas where it's not a big sport have the same impression...it's all about fighting.

    There's no doubt fisticuffs are a part of the sport, or at least have been at times.

    But so are other sports (I could go on and on about the subtle differences).

    Anyway, rule changes have drastically reduced fighting in the game.

    :-)

    Ces:

    All right, girl! You rock!

    Yes, it's the Devils, who used to be a terrible team but have been good for a long time now.

    A young guy from our area, Travis Zajac, plays for them now.

    As I was saying to Pam, there's a lot less head-bashing now, but it still is a rough sport and definitely not for weenies.

    You mention Wayne Gretzky...no those aren't his real teeth but he's the greatest player ever.

    The team he played for originally was the Edmonton Oilers, where I lived for about 14 years.

    I covered him the night he broke Gordie Howe's points record and picked him as the first star.

    He had moved to L.A. to play for the Kings and to live the glamour life with Janet Jones.

    He played a lousy game against his former team that night until the final three minutes, when he assisted on two goals to tie the game and Howe's record and force overtime, then score the winning goal in overtime to break Howe's record.

    It was an unbelievable night.

    And didn't you know that no Canadian males actually have any of their real teeth any more...

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  12. Hockey reports have no business appearing here on The Sensitive Male Perspective of Women's Issues . Blogspot?
    Look Buster, I come here to get in touch with my feminine side..I don't appreciate you getting sidetracked with Sports, especially Hockey...what's next automotive posts!?
    Puh-leeze
    get back,
    get back,
    get back to where you once belong!

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  13. Homer:

    And I did the post to get back to my own deep-voiced, animal male roots, you nincompoop...

    And to help get the gentler persuasion in touch with their own inner males insensitivities.

    Maybe I'll start up a new blog, now that you mention it. I could call it the Guys' Guy Blog.

    It could include such posts as:

    --how to scratch your scrotum without being noticed while out with 100 people
    --suggested reading for the male who is losing everything but the kitchen sink and lamenting their lost or failing libido
    --the best kinds of pets to help you attract females, and what not to wear while you're doing so
    --steps to become a stay-at-home dad, and how to stay there
    --five quick steps to finding your oilpan, checking your oil and changing it
    --the real reasons men lose hair on their heads as they age but why they gain it everwhere else

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  14. ..and thanks for that dreadful music!
    I am 'hearing' what you are 'saying'. Perhaps rolling around in some pure testosterone will give us guys that little edge that we need to stand our ground, howl at moon at growl
    AArrrgh.. Me MAN!
    Then and only then will we be able to withstand this endless onslaught of compassion, understanding and kowtowing to the radical feminist agenda...oh forget it who are we kidding.

    Wussies unite! I for one would evaporate into thin air were it not for the bliss of henpeckery and rigid regulation of all primal urges. We are civilized, domesticated men..it took decades for the Publishers of Cosmo and Good Housekeeping to retrain, I mean re-educate us and develop a small manageable number of breeders who operate at an acceptable level of submissive compliant behavior.

    We ARE the lucky ones my friend. Let us have a moment of silence for our fallen comrades who are no longer viable even as random sperm donors...
    they are genetic deadenders.

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  15. I think this is the best rendition of all! You can see his raw talent. Just look at the genuine smiles of the women behind him!

    I'm not sure I need or want to be associated with your random testosterone-laden rhetoric.

    I don't need -- and neither do you -- to roll around in testosterone. We have plenty.

    What females appreciate is when men have the ability not to let it dominate their lives...

    They don't want us to lose it all, just to tone it down a bit and let some other chemicals in.

    Which actually permit us to drop our need to bonk someone on the head or boink and...

    Oh, never mind. I'd better go eat some meat.

    I think it's time to unveil your new $1.49 shirt.

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  16. Anonymous5:32 PM

    Back again...why did I take to ice hockey? Not sure, but probably one of my pig-headed, non-conformist reactions to blanket coverage (saturation!)of Rugby Union.
    I wonder where your bro-in-law played? I think there was a rink down south, years ago, but it's not easy get locals to swap sun and fresh air for ice and artificial lighting.Oh, hang about...I forgot basketball.
    And yes, I can take being "a kiwi" Just not sure of the "flightless nocturnal bird" definition!

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  17. Dinahmow:

    Seems to me my cousin played in Brisbane or Canberra...he was a good player here but not good enough for pro, but they paid him to go there (20 years or so ago).

    You're no flightless bird. Canadians love Kiwis.

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  18. Anonymous3:24 AM

    this was such a lekka post!
    friends of mine are on the south african women's ice hockey team and they're heading for europe later this year!
    very cool sport!

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