I just found this short essay I wrote about hockey. It is from a time a while back when the Leafs were competing to be in the playoffs and I was still coaching my kid's hockey team. I don't really remember why I wrote it but I did so...
Hockey -Tim Posgate
As I head out to my weekly shinny game with my pals I
realize that I am as or more excited about playing than I was more than twenty
years ago when we all started playing together.
As a matter of fact, I don’t think I was ever this excited
about playing hockey when I was a kid. Maybe it is because the Leafs are in a
position to possibly make the playoffs for the first time since my kids have
been aware they have blue blood. Perhaps it is because I have had a sore back
this week and I felt the possibility of this great past time being taken away
As I write this my kids are outside (in the rain) playing
road hockey on our driveway. (yes, we purposefully bought a house in downtown
Toronto with a driveway for hockey reasons and we don’t even have a car) The
kids don’t wear helmets or facegaurds or anything of the sort and neither did I
as a kid playing road hockey.
Is hockey dangerous? Yes. Any sport where the main
instrument of use is a long stick has an element of danger to it from the get-go.
(Since they were old enough to stand I have taught my kids and their friends
how to respect each other while playing the game)
Soon I will car pool to the West end of Toronto to play the
greatest game on earth. It is one of the rare times I can “float” in complete
joy and be fully absorbed by the moment and not think about any emotional,
health or financial woes that may be on my mind during the rest of the
We play for fun. We don’t really keep score. (some guys do,
as competition is a an exciting part of hockey whether it be in the battle for
the puck in the corner or the number of goals at the end of the game) Do we
have injuries? Yes of course. I have taken a stick near the eye (before I
started wearing a cage) and usually once a week the game stops for a minute
while someone collects themselves from a bad fall or collision. We are pretty good for a bunch of old
guys. At top speed we can get moving pretty fast. (relative to walking anyways)
It is important to note that professional hockey moves at
almost twice the speed that we do. It doesn’t look like it on TV. I have
watched a few games from up close and it is unbelievable how fast these large
men can skate. Professional hockey is just that; hockey that revolves around
money. There is a lot at stake. The game is the same but the potential for
capital gain, more lucrative contracts and a chance to win the Stanley cup
provide for a culture that most of us will never have an inside knowledge of.
Even those of us who are part of the hockey world (I coach my kids hockey games
too) can really only imagine what goes on behind closed doors in the NHL. I
feel like I got a little and only a little more insight into this from the new
HBO documentary about the NHL Winter (outdoor) Classic.
Unfortunately, of late there has been more attention drawn
to head injuries and other negative parts of NHL hockey. It seems that there is
a movement from the intelligentsia to criticize hockey in any way possible,
especially in mainstream media. I find it hard to understand their motivation
however I have noticed that few of those people are hockey players themselves.
Of course, the same topic in kid’s hockey is of utmost
importance. The powers that be in Canadian amateur hockey certainly need a way
to make the game as safe as possible. However, this is really only a concern in competitive youth
hockey. Most house-league hockey like where our family plays is very safe and
is positive environment and a great place to hang out with your friends and
enjoy the game and some hot chocolate.
But, please let us not confuse the large, muscle bound,
Canadian (a few Americans and Europeans too) men who entertain us each weekend
on Hockey Night in Canada. This is entertainment. It is not a game for those
who don’t like the sight of blood. It is a battle where the precision and
beauty of ballet joins the speed and danger of stock car racing (which brings
me to wonder why it is not more popular in the States)
Including pre-season and playoff games there are over three
thousand games a year in the NHL. There will be fights, (much better than stick
swinging incidents) injuries and the unfortunately odds would have it that
someday maybe another death. (In l968 Bill Masterson was the first and only
player to die from the direct result of an on-ice incident)
In the meantime, the only thing more exciting than NHL
playoffs is going out myself and pretending that I am Sydney Crosby or
Alexander Ovechkin and enjoying and sharing the beauty of the greatest sport in
the world with my friends and family.
If you are the kind of person who only watches the
highlights at the end of the news (or even worse, watches the controversial
hits on Youtube) or spends most of the time at your kids games on your
Blackberry then I am not interested in your views on our sport. Hockey is not
an exclusive club but we are only accepting new members that love the
game. If you want to check it out,
come by my place on a Saturday night or sign up for a beginners shinny league
and you too will love the game within no time.