If you’ve grown up in Canada like I have you’ve been exposed to hockey in some way, to say hockey is a religion in Canada is not an understatement. From as far back as I can remember I’ve always watched playoff games. I’ve witnessed the excitement and passion Canadians have for these high-octane, adrenaline filled finals, especially if a Canadian team has made the playoffs.
Most people that know me would be surprised that I have a new-found love for hockey. In the last year and a half I have become incredibly fascinated with the sport. I’ll admit watching the first two seasons of Hockey Wives helped! I became interested in their lives and what goes into becoming a star player, including their grueling schedule. I witnessed the ups and downs of the lifestyle and how psychology plays a huge role in their game. I’ve enjoyed learning about the players off-ice discipline and was surprised to learn about all of their pre-game rituals and superstitions.
Watching the wives on the show led me to looking up many of the players online and studying their bio’s. When my husband realized this interest was developing he would say “the game we’re watching tonight has one of the wive’s husbands on it.” Then of course, I could relate! Sometime last year in the spring he realized how into it I had gotten when he started my car and my radio had been stopped on AM 590 (yes AM!). This was as “un-Julie,” as I could get! In saying that, I’ll explain, I’ve always had a wide range of interests, I wouldn’t ever want anyone to stereotype me, but this new interest went beyond. As far as he knew organized sports weren’t my thing, unless of course it was through a more patriotic ‘Canadian,’ lense when the playoffs were on. I had never spent any time learning all of the intricacies, politics and history of the game. My response to my radio choice was “I had a long drive home, my free Sirius radio subscription ended and I got drawn in…but why don’t they talk more about hockey…they are so focused on Bautista!” I’m a person when I latch onto something I’m interested in I want to know as much as possible about it, and because this was so out of my wheelhouse, it was a huge learning curve that I found really fulfilling.
I’ve progressed even more, and a lot has changed since then. Now I’m told by my husband I’m a real fan. I’ve read the odd story of a favorite player on Sportsnet and have since asked millions of questions. We PVR the games so if we are out one night, I don’t miss an important game and of course this helps so I can hit ‘pause,’ to ask questions. It was funny one night when I was freaking out that Carey Price (my favorite) was (what I thought) randomly leaving the net in the middle of the game. I was thinking…is he hurt? Why is he leaving? No one blew a whistle…whats going on? That was the night I learned all about delayed penalties. I’ve learned all about the pre and post lockout rule changes, icing, and offside plays. I have started having opinions on great hockey debates such as to change the ‘size of the net,’ vs. ‘goalie pads,’ the player “size vs. skill,” debate and whether NHL players should go to the Olympics. My husband thought it was funny when in January I wanted to start a pool, knowing its something you do before the season. I decided I had never been a part of one and it would be fun so I designed one. The winner makes the other dinner! He’s happy to go along with how serious I take it because he feeds off of my rookie-fan enthusiasm and thinks it’s hilarious! I have my 12 forwards, 6 defense players, and 2 goalies all picked out. After tallying recently, I’m winning by 30 points!
I love hockey for so many reasons. I love watching the underdog of any game shine in unforeseen moments of greatness. I love watching the facial expressions of the coaches and players when the camera cuts to them in precarious situations, I love the excitement of any game and competitive nature. I love to watch teammates treat each other like family, look out for rookies and protect their goalies. I love that there is a line of respect, carved out over decades that cuts through even the toughest of games. There are unspoken and unwritten rules that veteran and seasoned players have come to know. When a line is crossed a quick check into the boards or a verbal reminder ensures those rules and ‘knowns,’ are protected and immortalized. Traditions are valued and upheld while new notions of play are welcomed. When you watch hockey it’s a great metaphor for what I believe in. I love having traditions to look forward to all while being open to new ideas and the changes that will allow me to grow.
I can’t ever fast forward the anthem-that’s the best part. The looks on the players faces, imagining how loud a Canadian arena gets when the crowd sings along (pretty sure it’s the loudest in Montreal). I just enjoy the patriotic start as a reminder of what the game means to teams, fans, cities and countries.
I’ve only been to 3 games in my life, all in Toronto. Now it helps to actually know who the players are and a bit more about the game. It makes the experience all the more valuable.
I’m still a fan in training but am surprised by my own obsession over the game. It’s so rewarding and empowering when you open your mind and push yourself to develop new interests.
Hope this inspires you to explore something new!
Lv, Julie ♥
P.S. There were two articles that I looked up when I started this journey and they really enforced my new found love of the game. One that you can read here was “Breaking barriers all in a day’s work for Maple Leafs’ Soshnikov.” Its all about rookie player Nikita Soshnikov, who came from Russia to join one of Canada’s beloved teams. The other article which can be read here is “Seven more years of Jagr? He thinks he can do it.” It details how Florida Panthers Jaromir Jagr, a legend of a hockey player, wants to play to the age of 50. Both articles look past the locker room and into the lives of players, hooking you into the story of their struggles, work ethic and determination to succeed.