The great Edmonton Oiler years in the last half of the 1980s were the milieu in which I developed a keen interest in watching hockey. From grades 5-9, I faithfully memorized the players names, numbers and stats. In junior high, several of us would surround the newspaper in the library and check the scores from the previous night’s games – many of which couldn’t be published in time as the games finished after the paper’s deadline (3 or 4 time zones later). We collected Upper Deck, O Pee Chee, Score, Pro-Set hockey cards and poured over the Beckett price lists to see if we had any valuable cards (we didn’t). I got to watch the odd Oilers game when they played the Canadiens or Leafs or Bruins since they were closer to our time zone, but mostly it would be in the morning sports news highlights that I would catch the cool goals.
My interest in hockey faded though high school and college, just as the skill and success of the Edmonton Oilers faded too. Once I entered the work force, I discovered the Memorial Cup and World Junior Championships and even perked up when Edmonton leapt into the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006.
The last couple years, I have begun watching the Montreal Canadiens. Their fast style of play, amazing goal tending, and deep heritage have stirred a little bit of that junior high boy that is still left in me. The Habs have shown amazing team work in the regular season and this year finished second overall. Last night they lost their bid for the cup in the quarter final, but last year they made it to the semi-final.
Last night Blaise stopped watching the game after the second period because he was bored. I can see why – the Habs were losing, not much going on outside the neutral zone, hard to tell who the players are.
So why was I glued to the screen? I think there is a deep desire for victory, even a proxy victory through tough, hard working, highly skilled men. I think there is a value in elevating the excellent within your tribe and celebrating their highly developed skill. I think it should inspire and encourage others in that same tribe toward excellence in their fields.