This is not, and I repeat, this is not a political post. Great way to start out, right? But, there’s no doubt that over the last two months, the United States has had some heavy issues to deal with.
For those of you in Brampton, bare with me, it gets good.
Multiple hurricanes and a devastating tragedy in Las Vegas have wreaked havoc on our great country, once again binding people together in a time of trouble. On top of that, people have politicized these issues to try and gain momentum for their individual parties.
So where am I going with this?
Think about when you first became a hockey fan, the first game you ever attended. Got it? Good, follow me here. You get to the arena, with a friend, co-worker, significant other, or by yourself, you don’t know anyone else. Yet, there you are, being taken back by the beauty that is the sport we love.
Now fast forward to today, you arrive at the rink, you say hi to the friends in your section, you know that one vendor that tops your beer off a little better than the others, and you have that one place you stand during pregame warm-ups. It went from being just a hockey game to becoming a sense of comfort. We look forward to the nights we get to spend at the rink.
The hockey community has always been a tight-knit community, and in my opinion, it starts in the locker room.
“The boys,” if you’ve ever been around a hockey team, you know this term. The boys are your family for more than half of the year. You live with them, ride to morning skate with them, sit in the locker room with them, you’re on the ice with them. All of that interaction translates onto the ice. Someone gets hit, someone else sticks up for them. Someone scores a big goal; you hug them like they just gave you a free car. You win and lose with the boys, and that bond permeates to the fans. You sit next to the same people every game, you high five them when your team scores, and hell, occasionally that goal is so big, you hug your buddy next to you!
That bond that we share at the rink might just be what we need right now. Something to take our mind off the bad, something to give us hope and some relief from the destruction and sorrow that is going on right now.
Does it cure all and make everything better?
No, but the joy that I have going to the rink to watch “the boys” and see all the people I’ve met over the years brings me joy. It’s three to four hours away from the daily grind, stress, and everything else going on in my life. I sit in the chair before every pregame show next to Matthew Harding and we chat about life and go to work. Hockey games are my outlet, and maybe, just maybe, hockey and the hockey community can bring us together right now.
Starting last week, and moving into this week, hockey is back in all leagues from the NHL down to the SPHL. It’s on our televisions, radio, and even our newly announced The Sin Bin app (shameless plug). I challenge all of us to enjoy the couple hours we get with our friends, family, and new fans around us. Because, when we all take a step back and think about it, the moments we’ve had at hockey games can be distinct memories in our mind, that immediately bring us joy.
I’ve been criticized a lot in the last year for my public support of my hometown team, and in the position I’ve put myself in, criticism is to be expected. The beauty in what I do though is that frankly, I don’t care about criticism. Why? Because I support the team, the product, and I support the guys that put their bodies on the line so that for a few hours a night, I can forget about everything else going on. I’m just watching the sport that I love, and spending time with the family, friends, and colleagues I’ve met over the last 25 years. Hockey won’t solve the country’s problems, but maybe we all can make it better, one hockey hug at a time!