The 2013 NHL Play offs are coming! While I’m sad that the Flames are not playing this year, I am excited about having 4 Canadian teams to cheer for this spring.

Is hockey a Canadian cliche? Maybe but I embrace it. I was born in Montreal and surrounded by boys (Dad, 2 brothers, lots of male cousins, uncles and nephews) so I had no choice but to endure hockey (& support the Canadiens!). The boys played on the street, I watched. They played in a shinny league, I tagged along. On TV, if the Canadiens played, we cheered like maniacs. It was just part of our life and always part of our fun. We moved to Calgary when I was a child and I quickly adopted my new hometown’s team as my own, learning to hate the Oilers as much as we hated the Bruins and Maple Leafs.

I have 2 children on my own now, and moved to Vancouver 2 years ago. The kids, like their mother before them quickly adopted the Canucks as their team, although they assure us they still like the Flames… But hockey is more than just the NHL and I learned the value of the game from my son.

About 2 years ago my son started skating lessons. At first, he struggled to stand up on skates but persevered and quickly got his legs. Oddly, he never called it skating lessons, he always called it “going hockey”, probably because he noticed that there were a group of kids playing pond hockey at the same time at the other end of the rink. Watching them closely, he asked if he could play hockey like the other kids. When I told him he had to do 2 more pre-requisite sessions of skating lessons, he got a determined look on his face and said ok. Fast forward 3 months and he was proudly stepping onto the ice wearing his Canucks jersey and brandishing his new stick; he was going hockey for real!

This past year, my son played his first year in minor hockey. He participated in the initiation tournament in March and I was super proud of my kid and his team. They played well, but more importantly, they played hard and they played respectfully. I am the first to say that Gretzky’s records have nothing to fear from my boy but what he lacks in skill he makes up for in utter determination. He scored the first goal of the tournament by sheer pluck and never ceased in chasing the puck, chasing the play and cheering on his mates. To top it off, I’ve never seen the kid so happy as when they handed out the medals at the end. He couldn’t stop grinning while looking at it and wildly cheering with all the other boys in the dressing room.

Later that night after the tournament, he walked into the kitchen and gave me a big hug from behind. As he squeezed me as tightly as his little arms could, he said:

“Thank you mommy for putting me in hockey. I never knew I’d get a medal at the end!!!”

His total joy at playing the game with his team and receiving that little bit of acknowledgement was totally worth every cold minute we spent at that rink.

So as we get ready to watch the NHL playoffs, and cheer on all the Canadian teams I am imagining all those players as they once were; floppy haired, adorable, 5 years olds like my boy and playing a game for the sheer joy. And I can’t wait to see their faces at the end when they get their medal…

Go Canucks! Go Canadiens! Go Maple Leafs! Go Senators!

Minor hockey