I used to play hockey. As with so many other Canadian boys (and now girls, happily) it was almost an eventuality. Written in our genetic code, as though our free will was erased and around the time of our sixth or seventh birthday, we were being sized for shin pads and measuring our hockey sticks against our chins. I was okay. A stay-at-home defenceman in the Serge Savard mold. I played three or four years of competitive hockey and traveled a little bit but I never had any expectation of being a star or making the NHL. Some of my friends did but I sure wasn’t one of them. Eventually, as my interests diversified, I grew tired of hockey and preferred the excitement of the new frontier that was high school. And I really thought that being on the basketball team was going to be a much better strategy to attract girls than being in an arena in Clarence Creek on a Saturday morning. I was wrong.
But what I loved the most in those hockey days was the neighbourhood outdoor rink. I mean, I LOVED it. I would spend as many hours as physically possible playing shinny out there. Until my feet couldn’t take it or my mom had to come over to drag me home to dinner.
All of this is to say that every year now, I drive by my old neighbourhood around this season to see if the rink’s boards have been put up. I’ve been on skates maybe twice in the last thirty five years but I always get excited when I see the boards go up. If not for me, then for some eight year old kid who asked for a hockey stick for Christmas and hopes that the ice will be there on Christmas Day. The boards were up today. Game On!