Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Cherry Blossoms & Loneliness

What is your favourite thing about the NHL?

I'm going to repeat the choruses of the replies before mine: the game. Oh, the game. Turning it on, watching it in real life, seduces me into a hypnotic trance that only the threat of fire can break. Its rhythms undulate and its players don't even seem entirely human, floating over a majestic spread of ice with the grace of butterflies and cherry blossoms. I love everything about the game: its noises, scents and texture. The scraping of skates and tapping of sticks against the ice could be the soundtrack to the rest of my life, if it were possible. I'm not crazy about hockey bag smell, but I kind of like the smell of salty, stagnant sweat on human bodies. The impossibly smooth surface of the ice sets a perfect backdrop to the stitching of hockey equipment.

What is your least favourite thing about it?

I don't like the way junior hockey works to feed the NHL players. (This isn't really a complaint about how the NHL works, but since scheduling, diving, etc. have already been addressed, this is the next issue that I feel strongly about.)

I don't like that players have to move away from their homes at tender ages to pursue a career that may not even lead them anywhere. I don't like it that most hockey players don't have an education -- which doesn't make them any less of great human beings but I think they're robbed a chance of Shakespeare, Donne and Newton. Yes, the CHL may have great education packages, but I just don't think forcing a 15-year-old to juggle a hockey commitment with academics with loneliness and distance from their parents is fair.


Sasky said...

I have friends playing through the Canadian junior systems, some of which have moved from Australia to play over there.

For many of them it's a choice they make without a second thought because it's the best chance they have of making something out of their skills.

Many of the guys, hockey is what they do, what they know, and as much as it sounds bad to say it, for some of them it is the only thing they're good at. Some of them don't do good at school, and hockey gives them that.

They system isn't perfect, but. it gives many kids chances they wouldn't have otherwise. They still get educations. But hockey as ell.

aquietgirl said...

The system isn't perfect, but I think it starts too young. If I had the power, I'd delay everything about a year and move the draft age up to 19, with special exemptions for kids like Crosby, something like what the OHL did for Tavares.

I think some kids are able to handle it really well, but at the same time, they are with virtual strangers for the most vulnerable time of their lives. I have friends in junior hockey as well and I really, really feel for them.