Wednesday, October 8, 2014

So you think your kid is going to love hockey

A fresh new season is upon us.  I'm excited.  All teams are tied for first.  

When I was a kid I loved hockey.  I still love it.  I'm not sure how it happened. My father was an immigrant from the Philippines. I've heard stories about immigrants trying to fit in at their new workplaces and so watching hockey would get them into the conversation at work.  Maybe that was it.  My earliest memory is watching the Leafs when I was 5 or 6 years old with my Dad. I remember Palmateer and Salming. Then we up and moved from Toronto to Edmonton.  Just like that. Then came my love for the Edmonton Oilers.  Things were just turning a corner back then in 1981-82. What do you do in Edmonton in the winter? Um, play hockey, watch hockey, talk about hockey. I wasn't able to play organized hockey.  I used to go and skate on the outdoor rink five minutes from our house.  I used to play in the living room.  I'd use a tennis ball and an old Pampers box as the net.  My brother was just born and we had Pampers boxes all the time. Pampers boxes back then had a cardboard flap that you pulled back to get to the diapers.  So I pulled the flap and tried to get the tennis ball in that opening as many times as I could.
Fast forward to spring 2014.  I'm sitting in my family room watching Ron MacLean interview Wayne Gretzky about the Stanley Cup Final - the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers, two of Gretz's former teams (sadly no Oilers yet again).  My seven year-old son is sitting right beside me.  His brother and sisters and mother upstairs getting ready to watch their favourite show So You Think You Can Dance.

We try as parents to encourage them.  Hockey, swimming, karate, piano.  Try everything, see what sticks.  Our seven year-old tried hockey.  He was 6 at the time.  New to organized hockey.  He was a beginner. He skated with the 4 year olds.  Did his best.  That's all I asked.  Of course he wouldn't get on the ice without me.  I ended up being sort of an assistant coach.  And so the season ended and it wasn't the best experience.  No problem.  We'll see in a couple of years.  

Back to the couch.  We're sitting there watching Ron and Wayne and I'm yelling 

"Do you know who that is?"
"That's Wayne Gretzky!"
"The guy on the right!"
"Who's the other guy?"
"It doesn't matter who the other guy is!" (Sorry Ron MacLean)
"That's Wayne Gretzky! He is the best hockey player ever!  He played for the Oilers.  He's number 99."

Then from upstairs...
"So You Think You Can Dance is starting!" 

And in a flash my son was gone.

Now if you ask him who Wayne Gretzky is he says:
"He's the best hockey player ever. He played for the Oilers.  He's number 99."
Like he's reading a grocery list.

So, to that end, please Oilers be decent this year.  We're in the zone right now, eight, nine, ten years old.  If you could start being decent and then start blowing the damn roof off the place you'll have another fan.  I don't want to even discuss the alternative. 

Let's Go Oilers!