Saturday, April 9, 2011

My hockey cup runneth over

They say that hockey is in every Canadian’s blood. Don’t know about that. But it is certainly a part of my beginnings. I have proof of that in the small trophy sitting on my living room shelf, down here in the desert.

“David Lloyd – Mite Champion” I won’t include the year. 

Not that I have anything to hide, but… *sigh – let’s just say that I was eight years old at the time. Now this trophy, in addition to the rust, has undergone a traumatic past, revealed by the broken handle on one side - not a mean feat for something made out of some sort of metal - and the cup itself, bent forward. I am not going to lay any blame for its present appearance on anyone, although I will mention that one of my best friends was seen leaving the room shortly before the damage was reported. My friend, who will presently remain nameless, maintains – until this day - that his team should have won the cup. The thing is - we didn’t know each other at the time of the championship game, which my team won 1-0, but we were both under this massive pile of skates, hockey sticks and hockey gloves, right in front of his team’s goal. And somehow the puck managed to make its way into their net. He calls it a hand goal, but has no physical evidence to present. I maintain that I saw a stick poke it in. But even if I am mistaken, I will freely borrow from Maradona in claiming that it was the hand of God. (I have often wondered what position God would play – attacking centre forward or saviour in goal. I guess this very much depends on whether this is a Jewish God or a Christian God.)

I played a few more years after that, but stopped when my mother thought that hockey was getting too violent. Actually, and this is just between me and all of you out there - I was grateful for the out, for I was becoming increasingly bruised through the wear and tear of spending most of my time squeezed against the boards. I have never done too well with physical contact (and stop that snickering), although my closest thing to a real physical fight came on the hockey rink. I was playing on defence at the time and the opposing player first took offense to my sticking the stick up between his legs and pulling back hard when he was on a breakaway. Especially since I got away with it. So, at the first opportunity, he hit me hard. Then I found an opportunity to hit him and so we continued until the final buzzer signaling the end of the game. At this point, like real pros, we threw off our gloves and squared up for a real fight. But the referee, towering over us, stepped in to stop all of this nonsense. You may think I had it planned that way, but I admit nothing. The thing is, a Canadian puts on skates and immediately thinks he is Rambo. But it is good if you have something to back it up. So, for my own good, I left playing hockey early and depended only on watching the sport from the safety of the living room. The Toronto Maple Leafs won their last Stanley Cup shortly after that. I have vehemently maintained throughout the years that there was no connection between the two, almost parallel, developments. But not long after that I set out on a self-exile. I have vague memories of saying, at the time, that I would be back when the Maple Leafs next won the Stanley Cup. You can see how well that worked out for me.

What does all this have to do with the Israeli experience? Actually, I think that hockey is the perfect sport for Israelis. Fast, non-stopping, people getting thrills by hitting each other, shouting and swearing – much like a Sunday drive down a street in Tel Aviv. The only problem is a lack of ice. A small setback. There is only one “official” ice rink in Israel, up by the Lebanese border. There is something poetic about putting a hockey rink close to a border where missiles are frequently fired down upon us. Adds flavour to the game, perhaps. But, despite all this, an Israeli team managed to win the Division B trophy in an International Peewee Ice Hockey Tournament in Quebec City. Not having access to ice most of the year, they practiced most of the time on roller skates. I bet the Russians never thought of that. Maybe the Maple Leafs should come over here for a few pointers. Perhaps their problem is that they keep insisting on playing on ice.

And while we are talking about ice, there is one more thing that the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Middle East have in common: the Leafs will win the Stanley Cup and there will be peace in the Middle East probably only when hell freezes over.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very lucid, entertaining, and thought provoking combination of words. I am constantly looking for something to smile about in this very complicated 21st century world, and you gave me that smile.


    Phil Stowers