Hockey is Canada’s game and hockey fever is running wild at this time of the year as the playoffs, World Cup and Memorial Cup are all finishing up.
The International Ice Hockey Federation championship was held May 18 in Quebec City and Russia faced off against Canada. It was a heart breaking overtime loss for the hometown as Russia won their first world championship title in 15 years. As I watched part of the game and then the final result I started to think about how spoiled we are in Canada. Canada won double gold in hockey in 2002 at the Salt Lake City Olympics, in the past few years they have won three World Championships and are four-time defending World Junior Champions. Every time you turn around it seems like Canada is winning another major hockey championship. A lot of pride comes out when you put on the red and white maple leaf and cheer for your home country or watch the men or women sing O’Canada after winning gold, it is amazing to watch. As the 2010 Olympics approach the pressure will be on for Team Canada to win gold on home ice but if they don’t they will continue to make our country proud.
The best in the Canadian Hockey League are currently fighting it out for the Memorial Cup. The Western Hockey League is represented by the Spokane Chiefs who defeated the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League 5-4 in overtime on May 17. The Bulls are the team that I grew up watching as a youngster. My Dad would take me to the games and I would ask him questions about the rules, the players and my hockey knowledge comes from watching Belleville play. My Dad even sent me a Bulls t-shirt to wear while they are in the Memorial Cup. Since I can remember this is only the second time that they have made it to the Memorial Cup and it reminds me of being a kid.
There are a lot of people that when they watch the Stanley Cup they are reminded of their childhood dreaming of hoisting the cup. Each year little kids take the ice with the goal of one day winning the Stanley Cup. The cup was named after Frederick Arthur Stanley, Lord Stanley of Preston who was Canada’s sixth Governor General. According to the Hockey Hall of Fames website it weighs 34.5 lbs and is 89.54 cm in length. There are 2,056 names on it and the first team to engrave its roster was the 1906-07 Montreal Wanderers. The last time my favourite team won the cup it is even engraved incorrectly it says the Toronto Maple ‘Leaes’, maybe that is why they haven’t won it since.
There are many stories associated with the cup; it has been stolen, been to government buildings, traveled to Russia and one player, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Sylvain Lefebvre, christened his child in the bowl of the cup. I have been lucky enough to touch the cup twice. Once when I was a teenager on a visit to the HHOF, I even kissed it. The second I waited in line for over an hour at Rideau Hall in Ottawa where I found the TML engraving from their last victory and posed for another picture.
This year the Detroit Red Wings, representing the West and the Pittsburgh Penguins, from the East will battle it out for the cup. If you want to cheer for a Canadian team both teams dress 12 Canadian born players. This could be the year for the Penguins with the leadership of the young Sidney Crosby who is the youngest captain in NHL history to lead his team to the finals. I called The Pens and Sid the Kid from the start and I’m sticking with them. Hopefully, it will be good hockey that all can enjoy, Go Pens Go!