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J'aime l'hockey

Terry Frei of has a great article on Saturday's Hockey Day in Canada, entitled "Canada's passion knows no bounds". A great line from the article:

"In a diverse nation, the Pakistani cab driver might have honed his English by watching 'Hockey Night in Canada,' and though you can barely understand him, he is telling you Pat Quinn is using the wrong guys on the point."

Frei pretty much nails the extent to which hockey in embedded in Canada's national identity:

"I'm not even sure this is explainable, but when if you attend the pee wee tournament in Quebec City or a major junior game in Kamloops, you somehow feel a bit of the same aura that you sense in the Air Canada Centre on a Maple Leafs night."

I'm first generation Canadian, can't skate backwards, and never played ice hockey in my life, yet I love the game enough to schlep five hours to Jersey and back to watch two good teams play a meaningless game--something I'm dreading doing tomorrow night to watch my home-team Raptors.

Part of it is the ritual, I suppose, like NFL Sundays in America: gathering on a Saturday night to watch the Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada over beers, and then hitting a bar to catch the late game. It's obviously more than the ritual that makes the game special to Canucks. As Frei wrote, there is no simple way to describe what the game meanst to Canadians, as there is no analagous relationship between sport and national identity in the US. This Toronto Star article captures the spirit of the relationship rather well, I think.

The best way to experience it, of course, is to actually attend a game with national significance in Canada--the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto or Montreal later this year will do nicely.

I hope.

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Comments (Post | Latest)

1. Biscuit Chef said on Feb 24 2004:

Here in L.A., the Kings - IMHO - are the best thing going. Go figure though, the networks would rather show an episode of Hollywood Squares than a Ducks-Kings game.

2. Eric said on Feb 24 2004:

See you in Montreal for USA-Canada? I've already bought my tickets.

3. BenW said on Feb 25 2004:

I've played exactly one pick-up game of hockey in my life and I was about 8. I might not have even been wearing skates, but I remeber it was on a lake in Nova Scotia. I skated once in junior high school, once in college and once last winter. This year I decided to buy myself some skates because living a 15 minute walk from the longest rink in the world- the Rideau Canal- and not owning skates is a crime against all that is Canadian.

So I bought some skates and more or less re-taught myself how to skate. I've never been any good but at least now I can skate smoothly without falling. I can't stop on a dime, I can't do crossovers and I can't skate backwards. Watching 5 yr old kids do all of those things with their parents as they fly by me gives me a much, much deeper appreciation of the skill it takes to play hockey, as well as the dedication it takes for parents to pass those skills on to their kids.

American dads play catch with their sons and teach them how to throw a spiral pass. Canadians teach their kids how to do crossovers and switch from skating forward to backwards without losing a step.

4. reemer said on Feb 25 2004:

i'll see you there.


Hi, I'm Kareem Mayan. I co-founded eduFire, an online video tutoring company.

I've done time at ESPN and FIM.

I advise WorldBlu, helping them build democratic companies.

I moderated a council for Creative Good.

And, I helped bring Barcamp, a technology un-conference, to LA, which is where I live. I am now living and working in cool cities around the world.

More about me.

Opinions stated here are mine alone.

Contact: blog -at- reemer


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