I was standing in the living room when I let out a yell that frightened the bejeebers out of my then-five-year-old son. Sidney Crosby had just scored one of the biggest goals in Canadian hockey history.
Having just returned from attending freestyle and cross-country ski events at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, I had lost track of when the men’s gold-medal hockey final started. Turning on the TV, I watched the late comeback by the Americans, to force overtime. Which made the overtime celebration all the more special.
For my son, though, it was just too much noise about something he didn’t understand. And may never.
As a child whose hockey beginnings were in the days of the Original Six, I was caught up in a sea of fascination, reading and watching NHL hockey when the only teams were Boston, New York, Toronto, Montreal, Chicago and my favoured Detroit Red Wings, led by Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe.
I don’t wish the same passion on Aidan. The game is different. The potential passion is different, I think. But there are hints that he could love the game, too, even though I suspect his demeanour is more suited to our sporting pursuits.
My wife and I don’t want him to play competitive hockey, for a wide variety of reasons, including the fact he already does soccer, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, golf and paddling (kayaking and canoeing).
But just the other day, I watched my son standing in Canadian Tire with his first-ever hockey kit. He had on the elbow pads, shoulder pads, shin guards and pants. He looked as proud as could be, sort of like the way he glowed when he was all dressed up for his first communion at church.
He even used the words, later that day, “I’m so excited,” about the prospect of playing in a local hockey league.
It’s just a sponge-puck league with a definite recreational orientation, so we’re anxious to see if he fits in. You know, the normal kind of stuff parents worry about, whether it’s the newest grade, activity or friends.
If he never shares the passion I felt at his age about hockey, that’s just fine. I collected player cards. I made numerous hockey scrapbooks. I played the game hours on end. I even went to an NHL game in the old Montreal Forum.
I don’t expect any of that from my son. His artistic, creative and sporting interests may take him in a totally different direction. If he merely likes the game, which he has basically only played on our pond, that would be nice.
I have to admit, forking out more than $150 for his new kit and other accessories was mildly surprising. The bill’s not finished either, since Aidan has outgrown last year’s skates.
In contrast, I remember my best pair of goalie pads cost $125, or what was thought to be very expensive many moons ago, and I laugh to myself.
But I also wonder and hope the beaming boy in Canadian Tire a few Sundays ago carries that smile and pride onto the ice and finds that he really does like this national game called hockey.