Back To The Grind, And A Hockey Game
Well, I’ve run out of days to be sick. It’s back to work today. And straight into hell week. Hooboy. Today is a 50% off sale in the store. And then Tuesday is the usual 30% off senior’s day. If the place is still standing on Wednesday, it’ll be a miracle.
And what a welcome back to work! I’ll need every reserve of strength, I imagine. Nothing like jumping in with both feet.
Some cool news from yesterday, partially music-related. For Christmas, my Dad got us tickets to see an NHL alumni hockey game, which was held yesterday. They didn’t release any player names beforehand, so it could be big names, or who knows. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to go, feeling as sick as I was, but come yesterday around noon, I thought I could do it. We went.
The tickets said doors at 1pm, puck drop at 2pm, but no one was assigned seats. It was general admission, first come and first served. So of course we showed up around 12:00, thinking there’d be a line-up. No one. We go into the building, the folks are still setting things up. They had a lot of the stairways roped off, only one way in. We stood around, and finally I approached an official-looking lady at the stairs and she let us up to the seats, just as a guy came over to say we couldn’t go up yet. I muttered under my breath “just keep walking!” and we did. Turned out we were the first ones into the rink, so we had our pick of every seat in the place. My son (it was his choice) selected the first row at the ice, right beside the penalty box at center ice. Attaboy.
We were still hella early. They were testing the sound system pre-game, and playing Queen’s We Will Rock You. On repeat. For half an hour, at varying volumes while some guy said “check, check, check” into a microphone. Now, I love that song, but come on. And that’s the music-related bit of the story. Carry on…
Finally the players come out for a skate-around pre-game. This was a benefit game, in support of Special Olympic Ontario and the Law Enforcement Torch Run. The local team was made up of some of my town’s police officers and firefighters. The NHL alumni team… was like we’d been zapped in the wayback machine.
There was Mark La Forest in net, with Mike Krushelnyski, Lou Franceschetti and Bryan Muir on defense. There was Dan Daoust, Dave McLlwain, Luca Caputi, Mark Napier, and Todd Harvey. Even the referee was Mike Pelyk. The two players I was most excited to see were Brent Gretzky (yep, Wayne’s brother), and Rick Vaive. Man, I loved Rick Vaive as a kid, the way he’d blast up the right wing and shoot pure bullets on the net from the top of the circle… Seriously, it was (mostly) like I was back being a kid in the 80s, watching Hockey Night In Canada on Saturday night.
In all, this was a really fun afternoon. The local law were trying their best, and the old pros were barely putting in effort and still winning. It was clear that if they’d turned it on and really tried, the score would’ve been 50-0, and PDQ. The power and smoothness of the skating was still there, and the control was a pleasure to watch. I was watching Vaive in the warm-ups and he still has a wicked shot. He may have a head of white hair, but he’s been keeping up his skills, it was beautiful.
This afternoon was for fun, though, so there was a lot of horsing around. The NHLers made duff passes just to give the other team chances, and the goalie even tried for an end-to-end rush. Krushelnyski kept collecting snow from along the boards with his stick blade, then dumping it over the glass onto the kids up front, yelling “it’s snowing in here!” Fransceschetti kept knocking the net off its moorings and throwing his stick along the ice to stop breakaways. When the referee gave him penalties for it, he threw his gloves at the ref. Oh man.
A highlight was the first goal the cops team scored. La Forest, the goalie, had requested a photo with the goal scorer for his own ‘wall of shame, in his garage back home.’ So they lined up for the photo and then Gretzky pied the guy in the face. That goal scorer is a dad at my kids’ school, so I’ll have to ask him his side of the tale.
In all, it was a fun afternoon. I wish I had been feeling better – the cold of the rink didn’t help much – but I’m glad I was at least well enough to go to the game. My boy, of course, loved it, and my Dad had a blast remembering all the old players. And, of course, just being in the rink and watching hockey (at any level) is a curative for the Canadian soul.
This is a tour of games, not just a one-off here. I don’t know if they have the same players for every match (probably not, just whomever’s available to come to the rink) but it’s a great time. If there’s one in your town, for all you folks in Ontario, get out to it. It’s for a great cause and it’s a really fun time.