It may not be an official national holiday, but in this hockey-mad nation, it quite likely should be. A day to celebrate a game that is so much a part of the fabric of this nation that it's hard to imagine life without it. More than anything, Hockey Day In Canada isn't about our love of the game at it's highest level, but at it's roots. The connection that most of us have with the game: playing with friends, family and coworkers in community arenas, frozen ponds and rivers, gymnasiums and even the street in front of our house. It's about learning the game as children, sharing that time with loved ones. It has shown the power to bring this nation together, to bring it to a standstill, and to bring it to it's feet. So today as we watch a TON of hockey, and prepare to see our Canucks take on the Flames in an important divisional rival, I asked my fellow Nucks Misconduct writers about their favorite childhood hockey memories. We'll take a look at those after the jump...
THE STANCHION- I wish I had a hipster answer like "Oh you don't remember Gerald Diduck scoring the overtime winner in a '92 exhibition game against the Flames? I do." but my answer will be as cliche as they come. 1994, Kirk McLean, and "The Save". Being a young goalie myself, and hating the Flames with a burning passion, nothing was more exciting than seeing Kirk McLean drop kick the hopes and dreams of the Flames into oblivion during overtime when he made his save on Robert Reichel. This was back in the day of no PVR's or YouTube, so I saw the save only a couple of times that night, but I am pretty sure I recreated it during hockey about 191928828 times since then. Any sliding kicking save is met with a resounding "'94 McLean!". Every. Single. Time.
NUCKS AND PUCKS- Growing up in Vancouver, I never had the opportunity to experience the stereotypical Canadian childhood winter filled with outdoor shinny on the pond or at the local rink. However, I was certainly not lacking for hockey playing opportunities, as my back alley was a year round site for pick-up ball hockey games that sometimes reached epic proportions. My neighbourhood friend and I, along with his younger brother and my older brother, were among a core of people who could regularly be found in the back alley after school or on weekends. Summers were glorious, with many days filled with road hockey from morning until sundown, with only brief pauses for lunch and dinner. The games would feature children and adults, boys and girls, all playing together and having a blast. One epic game that I will always remember involved about 30-40 people, ranging from kindergarten kids up to middle-aged adults, coming from blocks around to play in the alley. Those were great times and fond memories. While I may not have experienced outdoor hockey until my adult life in Toronto, I certainly was privileged to enjoy countless hours of road hockey with friends and neighbours throughout my childhood.
YANKEE CANUCK- I didn't have an uncle or a grandparent dragging me around on some frozen pond. In fact I lived near no frozen ponds and, the one time the closest pondish-lake thing near me did freeze over, my friends and I walked on it and we all fell through. Shocker. But I still remember where I was literally standing when someone chucked NHL 94 in my face. Like every other male with opposable digits, a fondness for video games and never lacking in reasons to lose their shit and scream at friends, I was hooked. Sure the same deke always resulted in a goal, or slamming into the opposing goalie and shoveling the pass off to the center was a bona fide crowd pleaser, but no game in my lifetime every attracted so many people to a sport they knew precious little about. For me it paved the way to finding games on TV and then to Vancouver. No offense to Blades of Steel, but NHL 94 planted the seeds of rampant fandom and, to be honest, I'd still kick anyone's ass in it. Bring it on fools; respect the B button!
JORDAN CLARKE- As blissful and miserable as the '94 Cup run was to my 9-year-old self (my neighbour who I watched game 7 with cried all night and refused to go to school the next day), my favourite childhood hockey memory is just playing endless hours of street hockey with my friends from the neighbourhood. When you're a kid and you're outside running around with a hockey stick in your hands, nothing else exists; normal activities like eating and going to the bathroom become secondary. You'd rather piss your pants than take off your gear and go inside (that may have happened once). As great as watching hockey is, there's nothing like playing the game.
VANCITYDAN- Childhood eh? You devious bastard. so many choices. Hockey is best when you are young. Especially in the hut like arenas all over rural BC. I think, for me, it was a game, about 14 at the time. We played with the wooden sticks and pucks only cost a dollar. ( and hung onions on our belts...lol) The pads were not like the seemingly weapons they are described now, but the games were, through that special prism those memories have, just as rough and tumble as anything now. When you play hockey as a teen in those rinks ( hell, anywhere I imagine ) its all about standing up. We had about the smallest kid our age ( the new kid as well ) I had ever seen on the ice ( 4' something with a low single digit ). He got crushed by one of the biggest kids for our age on the other team I have ever seen, no puck near, late late late... Standing up for him was the immediate new goal of the first line I was playing on then, for the next two periods. We ended up winning the game by a couple,( our line, but he did get an assist I think on another goal ) but the way that little bastard kept on taking his shift after being crushed, smiling and part of the team, knowing each time he went out that we had his back, and were taking numbers...
Thats why I think we should call up Jordan Schroeder ;-)
KENT BASKY- My earliest childhood memories of hockey are a little hazy. I can vaguely recall my dad taking me to see the Saskatoon Blades play at the old Saskatoon Arena, and surprisingly vivid memories of the Canada/Russia Summit Series in 1972. I remember getting my first hockey stick for Christmas: A Sher-Wood, about a foot and a half taller than I was, with a straight blade. I remember endless road hockey games growing up in Kamloops, where the only thing that ever really stopped us was rain or bedtime. We'd play in the snow and the summer heat, and when it was cold enough, on the Thompson River or the rink at Westsyde Park. I remember watching lots of junior hockey, the Chiefs, Rockets, Junior Oilers and Blazers. I remember going to Memorial Arena to watch games during the Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament, not knowing some of the kids we watched would go on to be superstars: Jari Kurri, Mario Lemieux, Mike Modano among others. And most of all, I think about watching Hockey Night In Canada with my family. No matter how crazy life got, with school, work and the day to day stress of growing up in a family where both parents worked, and we kids were typical teenagers, we always put things aside on Saturday night to watch the game with dinner. To this day the thing I miss about not being in Kamloops is watching hockey with my dad, especially the way we chirp each other. I may not have been able to play competitively for health reasons, but that didn't make hockey any less important in my life.
CAM CHARRON -There was always a small group of us trading cards or discussing games when I was a kid, until the 2002 Olympics rolled around. I can still picture everybody's reaction in the room when Joe Sakic scored the goal to put Canada up 5-2. Bob Cole had the greatest goal call ever on that one: "Joe. Sakic. Scores!"
The once again banged-up Canucks are in Calgary tonight, taking on a Flames team hungry to get back into the playoff hunt. The latest to fall victim to the injury ninja is Keith Ballard, suffering from what may well be a serious neck injury. Is this something that could keep him out long term? It would be a shame, one hand due to the way Ballard had recently stepped up his game. On the other hand, Ballard being out for an extended period of time could be a godsend for the Canucks. If they're in need of putting him on LTIR, that opens up a sizable chunk of cap space with the trading deadline right around the corner, something that expands what kind of players the Canucks can be on the 27th. We will learn more in the days to come, in the meantime it will be business as usual, as the NHL's best road team looks to notch win #20 against an old foe.
Roberto Luongo will be in the crease for the Canucks tonight, looking for their 6th consecutive road win and 6th straight at the Saddledome. Speaking of 6, the Canucks are 6-1-0 with Ballard out of the lineup (sorry Bally), and should Ryan Kesler score tonight, that will be 6 straight games with a goal for him. The Canucks are 7-2-2 all time on Hockey Day In Canada, and have 2 wins and a tie against the Flames on HDIC. They played the Flames last season at Rogers Arena, skating away with a 4-2 win, and are 5-1-1 on Hockey Night In Canada this season.
METAL SONG OF THE DAY
New 3 Inches Of Blood? New 3 Inches Of Blood. Vancouver's metal kings have a new disc out soon, and if the first release is any indication, this one will be a face melter. From Long Live Heavy Metal (featuring huge Canucks fan, vocalist Cam Pipes) here's Leather Lord!