The great one, Wayne Gretzky, put into these words what competing in the World Junior Hockey Championships meant to him: “It’s just a bunch of Canadian kids getting together to play hockey for their country over the holidays.”
So we didn’t win a medal in this 2013 junior showdown — it is not the end of the world, there will be many other tournaments and our Canadian teams will always be in the middle of the action, giving it their best effort.
Since the early 1900s our great nation has played in countless international hockey team competitions for men, women, juniors and under-18 teams at home and throughout the world, and have proudly returned home with hundreds of medals and awards. Most importantly they have gained a wealth of experience and pride for just being there for Canada.
I don’t know about the rest of you, I didn’t get up at 2 a.m. to watch all those games from faraway Ufa, Russia, but I did catch the replays and cheered for the efforts of all those teams full of gritty up and coming young superstars. What always really impresses me about all of these exciting sporting competitions is the overwhelming support from our Canadian fans, both here at home, or wherever in the world our teams play. The fabulous flash of red and white, the Maple Leaf, the painted faces, the flags, the noisemakers and all the rest of the hoopla is always amazing, whether we win or lose. When we host these international events anywhere in Canada our rinks, buildings, and playing fields have always been packed to the rafters with avid fans of all ages.
The best statement I caught out of the 2013 junior event was from the U.S. team as they hoisted their championship trophy high. When asked about how they came together so quickly, most of the players credited the coaching staff, who told them at the beginning of the competition to just go out, play hard and have some fun.
This past Sunday morning we could almost hear the cheers from our living rooms as the National Hockey League finally came to their senses and put an end to another long and bitter lockout. Now that the perks and the share the wealth formula has been settled for the players and owners, hopefully now they will get back to work for the next 10 or so seasons and give their millions of faithful fans the kind of effort and action that they have always deserved.
I did get quite a few emails chatting about the hockey lockout but I got a real kick out of the one that was directed at me in good fun by my son. It was a cartoon of a big neon sign at the border stating: “Welcome to Canada…home of the undefeated Toronto Maple Leafs (2012-2013).” Tim Hortons next exit and everyone after that. No matter what, I will always cheer for the blue and white but I really hope that our great fans will keep on dropping in to the local hockey rinks to cheer on our great young teams, to join in as they celebrate Minor Hockey Week in Canada this month and then stick around for the rest of their exciting season.
Keep enjoying this balmy January and have a great week, all of you!