I was going to title this post “Hangovers and Hockey”, given today is Boxing Day and all, but there is an outside chance my mother might read this so I probably should keep it a little more professional. Truth is that in our household, Boxing Day has long been a day of quiet reflection mixed with some uplifting spirit. By ‘quiet reflection’ I mean lazing on the couch and by ‘uplifting spirit,’ I mean cheering on Team Canada in the IIHF World Juniors. It’s a perfect pairing!
HockeyNow has published several World Juniors Preview posts, and I will commit myself to reading a few of them of them, but historically, I’ve been so busy watching my own three kids play hockey, I rarely have made the time to check out the up-and-coming superstars who get showcased in the World Juniors. I just settle in and go for the ride! It’s always fun to get to know all their names and their backgrounds. There are always a few players who seem to shine during this tournament, and then it’s fun for me to see where in the NHL they end up (it’s like I know them all now!).
As I have watched a little of the pre-competition games this year, I am struck by how young all these players look to me. “They look like babies!” I joked with my husband. Could it be that with my own twenty-year-old and nineteen-year-old sitting on the couch beside me, I’m looking at all these players and realizing I’m old enough to be their mother?! (You don’t need to answer that.) Where have the World Junior years gone?
I’m not sure when watching the World Juniors became such a tradition in our family but I have very specific memory dating back to 2004: a family friend had been heatedly debating some critical aspect of Maple Leaf trivia with my then seven-year-old eldest Maple Leaf-crazed son, when he finally asked my boy, “Oh yeah? Well, who’s the goalie for Team Canada in the World Juniors?” to which my son confidently replied, “Marc-André Fleury” knowing the Team Canada roster far better than anyone else in the room. Clearly, we’ve been hooked for quite a while. And the year the World Juniors were held here in Ottawa? Well, let’s just say we still talk about it.
Though the World Juniors takes centre stage in our family room, another relatively new hockey viewing tradition is also gaining popularity on our couch. The NHL’s Winter Classic, a league game that is held outdoors, has been held annually now since 2008. We are anxiously awaiting the year that such a game will be held in reasonable proximity for us to attend in person. Let’s just say we’ll be talking about that for years, too!
While our family takes a hiatus from the regular rigour of the minor hockey schedule this holiday season, hockey itself is never far from our routine. With or without the World Juniors on your television screen, I say three cheers for all the hockey moms this holiday season – you all get five for keeping the peace!
Happy World Junior – I mean – Boxing Day!
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