Passion Of The Puck : Here’s To Hockey Families Everywhere

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I’ve been told that if you grew up in a SERIOUS hockey household, you know every term, every move, every guy (and gal) in the Hall of Fame, everyone whose ever been on your favourite team, the name of the Inuit tribe that first carved hockey sticks, the breed of caribou antlers (or was it elk?) skates were first made out of, the best type of wood to fashion a puck from, once wore (or know someone who wore) tube skates, can recite all of “Slap Shot” and the animated short “The Sweater”, has actually seen Neal Peart’s hockey drum kit, has a bloodstained souvenir sweater somewhere in your house, learned to skate before you could talk, attended five a.m. practices, can actually follow a game on the radio, had (or has) a rink in your back yard, and has never touched a tennis racquet in your life.

I have been interested in hockey since the ‘70s, but only over the course of the past few years have I become truly appreciative of the power of this sport.  Especially as someone who lives in Southern California, where hockey almost feels like an embarrassment.

I once asked a co-worker “hey, did you see the Kings game last night?” and his response was “No.  I didn’t realize Sacramento had a game scheduled.”

On the local news, unless Wayne Gretzky was playing, hockey never made it onto the broadcast.

In the early ‘90s, everyone scoffed at the idea of Disney’s upstart team and even the San Jose Sharks got short shrift.

I began to despair, but as I met more and more people from the east coast, Canada and cold weather countries, I discovered that hockey has worldwide appeal rivaled by only that of soccer.

Actually, “appeal” is too mild a word.  “Passion” comes close, but is still too weak and “psychosis” might sound a tad too crazy.

Wait…hockey fans ARE crazy!

Check Youtube and you will find billions of vids of pro game outtakes, painstaking homages to specific players, peewees falling over with parents in the stands chuckling, and familial pride lavished all over their talented kids.

And no videos ooze pride the way those posted by FunnyCanadian do.  So I absolutely had to get in contact and interview Dad, Son and Daughter.  The love that Dad lavishes on maintaining their backyard rink is awesome, the kids are dedicated and could the son become the next (dare I say it?) Patrick Roy…?

So without further ado, here are John Sr., John Jr. and Chantal chatting about the greatest sport on earth!

John Sr.

When did your children begin playing?

JS: Chantal and John both started skating when they were 3 1/2 and began playing organized hockey when they were 6 and 4 [respectively].

I know equipment is expensive, how do you economize?

JS: Hockey in general and goaltending in particular are indeed expensive.  If Chantal’s outgrown equipment fit her brother, he would use it. Chantal would also play goalie on our backyard rink and I would buy goalie equipment for her that John could grow into.  We usually buy used because kids grow really quickly.  For example, last March John wore a size 2 skate and this fall he is up a size 6!  The other advantage of buying used (aside from the lower price) is that the equipment has already been broken in.

I noticed Chantal wearing a Leafs sweater and John Jr. Habs.  What’s the story behind that?

JS: Since I was born in Montreal, I am obligated by birth to cheer for the Habs! We now live in Scarborough which is a suburb of Toronto. Me, John Jr. and Mom are Habs fans and Chantal is the only Leafs fan.  As a family, we will watch both the Habs games and Leafs games. But if they happen to be playing on the same night (which is every Saturday) we watch the Habs!

Ever have qualms about getting Chantal Leafs gear?

JS: I do not have a problem buying leaf stuff for Chantal. In fact I took my wife and my mother to a Tampa Bay Lightening vs the Leafs game in Florida in 1992. Being a proud Canadian I wore a Leafs jersey to the game!

How would you characterize hockey fans and players?

JS: Canadians in general are known for being polite and hockey players are appreciative of their fans. A perfect example is Bobby Hull who would remain and sign autographs until everyone had one. Don Cherry has always been very nice! The players in the NHL realize that they are role models to kids and act accordingly.

What advice would you give to aspiring hockey parents?

JS: I would suggest that parents let their kids have fun and enjoy the great sport of hockey. Too much pressure and unfair expectations on the part of parents are only counterproductive.

John Jr.

Why goaltender and do you prefer butterfly or stand-up?

JJ: I like the equipment and the challenge of playing the position. I play both butterfly and stand up depending on the shot and the situation. My favourite goalie of all time is Patrick Roy and I wear # 33 on my jersey in his honour.

What’s your team?

JJ: I play in the GTHL which stands for The Greater Toronto Hockey League.

Do you and your sister practice together?

JJ: Yes. My sister and I help each other. Chantal’s shot has gotten better after shooting thousands of pucks at me!

Explain headbutting the puck.

JJ: I use my head because I am not afraid of the puck. It helps that I play soccer during the summer! I’m having fun while clearing the puck with my mask.

Chantal

What’s your team?

C: Because I also attend Royal Canadian Army cadets I do not have the time to play on a competitive hockey team so I play in the Scarborough Sharks house league and on the  Bantam select team. I usually play center.

Who is your favourite player?

C: Vicky Sunohara from the Canadian Women’s Olympic Hockey Team. My dad works with her friend and I have met her in person. She is a really nice person! I wear # 61, which is her number, when play.

Do you think you have a shot at the Olympics?

C: Right now I am playing to have fun. To make it to the Olympics I would have to practice hard and hope for the best.

Here in the States there is professional-level women’s basketball.  Do you think hockey should have a similar league?

C: I think that there should be a league like the NHL for women, and that players from all over the world could play in it. Then they could take the best players from each country for the Olympics.

The rest of your family are Habs fans – why the Leafs for you?

C: I am a Leafs fan because I was born in Toronto!

Hockey’s considered more of a guy’s sport, why do you like it?

C: I love playing hockey because it is fun, I make a lot of friends, and I like being outside on our rink, I also like showing that girls can do what boys do!