Disclaimer: These are not the only five reasons I like hockey. Like many of you, hockey for me is wrapped up with a lot of good memories having to do with my family. Like a lot of people who played the game as a kid, I remember fondly Mom and Dad taking me to my own games and practices, along with a lot of other childhood moments that most of you can probably relate to in some way: playing road hockey with other kids in the neighbourhood, learning to love the game by staying up late and watching the Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada, taking shots on goal in the basement with my grandmother in net. Wait, what? That one might not be so commonplace. The fact that she consistently showed me top cheese and then beat me with her glove hand said more about my talent level, I'm afraid, than it did about hers.
Like many of you, the game has long assumed a place of prominence in my life, and is also wrapped up in a lot of the happiest times in my more recent life: playing beer league hockey with my buddies, busting each other's balls in the room about a meaningless game against our arch-rivals (the carpet installers' team) in the Chesswood Sunday afternoon Men's "D" Division league, going to Leaf games with my brothers, watching any number of games with my Dad, etc. etc.
All of those things are very treasured parts of my lifelong passion for the game, but - reading many of the fantastic entries you folks have all submitted for this "Five Reasons I Love Hockey" contest - it occurs to me that my own memories are nothing but highly particularized manifestations of recurring general themes. The compilation of these posts has permitted us to explore the very essence of our love for hockey. Not to sound too much like Ken Dryden, but basically, it seemed to me that we were collectively approaching a kind of Zen understanding of our relationship with he game through this exercise. Submitted for your consideration, then, are five facets of the game essential to a fan's passion for matters of puck and stick.
In keeping with the Zen theme, my submission has been completed in the native verse form of hockey: haiku. Each of the verses describes one of the five reasons put forward for your consideration.
Morning in the rink;
A fresh sheet of ice, alone.
Blades start carving turns.
II. Game On: Brilliant Moments
Time stops: in alone.
Breakaway! Feint; shift. Shot; save!
The crowd can exhale.
In the quiet room
the sweaty grinder's face stitched.
Still, the game awaits.
Sixty minutes gone,
Nothing has been decided.
Next goal wins it all!
V. The Stanley Cup
The smiling captain
holds the past etched on silver
and raises the Cup.