Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Ufa, then Omsk
Gripe #465: Kenya Airways over-booked my daughter’s flight and made her spend another night in Nairobi. NOW where is she?
Gripe #466: A huge bloated grey squirrel is snatching plums off my tree, skittering along the veggie patch snake fence, up the arbutus, and then in through the attic window above my office.
Gripe #467: Read almost any book on hockey from the last 50 years, and you’ll be told that a) we all grew up wanting to play in the NHL; b) hockey matters because we’re a nation of ice-dwellers in a land of non-stop winter; c) Leafs and Habs matter most.
By 6 a.m. yesterday morning, I sat puffy-eyed on the couch with a pot of Murchie’s Library tea, multigrain (organic) toast heaped with blackberry jam (my berries), two dogs, two cats (zero daughters). Later, I’d mow lawns, harvest basil, hang wet towels on the line, but for a couple of hours while the sun got high, I was in Ufa, Russia with the boys and their Super Series.
Not a moment too soon. Sure: go Mariners! (someone please help Ichiro get underpants that fit). Sure: woo-hoo! to a Federer-Djokovic final (see p. 631 of Sept. Vogue Magazine). Sure: will Dave Dickenson ever get his brain back? But I can’t tell you how relieved, happy and calm I felt settling in to watch hockey yesterday morning. And listen: I didn’t dream of the NHL growing up in Vancouver; in Victoria, primroses bloom in February, Matt Pettinger trains on the beach, and the Courtnalls still hold court; here, we’re not that into Leafs, Habs, or Sens.
There’s little that’s more pleasurable, even at 6 a.m. at the end of summer, than panicking when a Canadian hockey team blows the first ten minutes of a game (or the first game of a tournament), then watching the coaches tinker with systems and combos, and the players adjust their hearts and minds to turn it around.
If yesterday’s kind of win is thanks to the backyard rink, then explain my pride when Milan Lucic was named captain of Team Canada, a boy whose Serbian parents met and married in Vancouver, who after years as a Vancouver Giants punisher will captain the Memorial Cup defenders next year.
Explain wee Kyle Turris, he who deked and kicked and head-faked his way through big-stage pressure to score on that penalty shot, who grew up near the Fraser River in temperate New Westminster, played for the Burnaby Express in the BCHL, Junior A Player of the Year, drafted 3rd overall by Wayne “Backyard” Gretzky.
Hockey doesn’t have to rely on the familiar patterns and standard storylines. It doesn’t belong to men, or easterners, or athletes, or North Americans. The game is big; we can share. Tomorrow morning, Omsk. But Sept. 9, they’ll be home to play in Vancouver.