Saturday, November 04, 2006

"If you loved me, you'd win."

Share your earliest hockey memory and why you stuck with the boys. I mean, game.

My earliest hockey memory is skating at Mel Lastman Square, the outdoor rink situated right beside Toronto's Central Library. My parents would drop me off and I'd browse for a few books, then plunk myself down and squeeze myself into the skates. Maybe that's why I've always inexplicably linked hockey with literature. I'd skate for laps and laps until I couldn't feel my feet.
I was a goaltender in the first game I'd ever played and though I played other positions after that, I got bored with them. I like goaltending because there's no sense of utter control -- you're always forced to react and be on the defensive and in a way, you have to assert utter control. I stopped playing hockey regularly way too early for my liking and now that I'm saddled with full courses and silly things to learn, I miss it. Watching it and living it through your team is just never quite the same as getting into your own skates and settling into a quiet rhythm that you can still feel days, after. Skating is one of the purest pleasures (once you get past falling); it feels like floating.

I stuck with hockey because -- well, because I loved it then and I love it now. In a way, my love of hockey and my love of the NHL is separate because one is undying and one depends on my patience and schedule.

Well, growing up in Toronto, you're assumed a Leaf fan until proven otherwise. People don't ask. They assume. I'd lived nervously with this assumption for years until I was conscious enough to choose something else. I'd lived years with watching Leaf hockey and having such mild feelings towards them that I really stopped caring. The day I knew I was no longer a part of Toronto's Leaf contingent was the day I realized I wouldn't care if the Leafs won the Stanley Cup. And this is the Stanley Cup.

I don't know what really drew me to the Senators; it wasn't a conscious choice. I suppose some things just happen due to a convergence or confluence of a lot of things. It was in the 2003 playoffs and the Leafs had just made an exit. The Ottawa Senators were playing the Philadelphia Flyers and it was magic. Marian Hossa, Daniel Alfredsson, Martin Havlat -- I fell into a flurry, hard and fast, memorizing every line and every tidbit of history and every story on the Senators I could possibly get my hands on. It must've only been a month or two before May 23 2003 but it felt like an eternity. And the hurt inflicted on me, from Jeff Friesen and Grant Marshall, has numbed but not disappeared with each season, growing into a deeper sense of heartbreak.

Hockey is comfort; being a hockey fan is hurt. And that is what I have learned. (Yes, that is why "hockey will tear us apart.")

So, this has grown to be sort of off-topic, but I hope it's amusingly off-topic.


Jordi said...

Being a hockey fan is all about a hate-love relationship.

Unfortunately I don't have any skill in skating. I don't think I ever will. Until they develop fashionable shorts that prevent you from hurting your ass.

aquietgirl said...

Yeah, not feeling any love in the relationship right now. If this were a real relationship, this would be where I throw stuff at him.

Skating is awesome! I just have to re-learn it every season. First time I get out there every winter, I'm like a newborn deer.

Jen Z said...

Good for you - you skate! I am so brutal. I always wanted my parents to buy me hockey skates instead of those dumb figure skates. That toe pick was my nemesis.