Hockey, Canada and Christmas

December 24, 2016

As an average Canadian who grew up in a hockey town, the game has been a part of me since childhood recollections of road shinny and black-and-white television on Saturday night.

Christmas was a special time relative to hockey from when Santa Claus left me my first-ever hockey sweater under the tree when I was a 5-year old kid living on Maple St. in Sault Ste. Marie.

Being that the Montreal Canadiens were my dad’s favourite team, it was only fitting that the first National Hockey League sweater I ever owned was of the red-white-and-blue with Rocket Richard’s no. 9 on the back.

Not only did I wear the sweater out on to the street to play hockey on Boxing Day, 1957, I wore it to bed that night, over my pyjamas.

Other sweaters came courtesy of Dad and Mom via Santa Claus over the next few years, including a Detroit Red Wings issue with Alex Delvecchio’s no. 10 on the back.

I remember thinking I would like a Chicago Blackhawks jersey and sure enough, it appeared under the tree one year with the no. 3 of Pierre Pilote on the back.

Years later, I went from hockey fan to hockey broadcaster and writer and I still like to collect jerseys, though now they are of teams in the Ontario Hockey League, Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League, Great North Midget Hockey League and Western Collegiate Hockey Association — and they hang on the wall in the basement of my house that contains a radio studio where I host the weekly Hockey North Show on ESPN 1400.

But there is something about hockey in Canada at Christmas time, with tournaments that range from the local kids variety to the nationally-televised, World Junior Championships.

Hockey at Christmas in Canada carries meaning for folks of all ages in communities across the western and eastern provinces and in Ontario towns such as Sault Ste. Marie, Blind River, Sudbury, North Bay, Iroquois Falls, Pembroke and Ottawa.

Road hockey games still exist as do matches played on outdoor rinks.

This is a column with no tangible meaning other than it’s a brief reflection about hockey, in Canada, at Christmas.

What you think about “Hockey, Canada and Christmas”

  1. Merry Christmas Randy, Mary, & family.
    Keep up your great writing in the New Year, Randy.
    p.s. Looks like a showdown for our favourite teams next weekend.
    Ronnie B.

  2. I beg to differ, Randy! Your article does have “tangible meaning” to me, and no doubt others. It resonates with me on both content and feeling levels, especially considering I spent endless hours not only during the Christmas season, but throughout winter playing hockey on the Maple Street home rink, Wilcox , as it was known. Well done!

  3. Your article brings back some very tangible memories for me, too, Randy. Growing up in East York (suburban Toronto) in the 1940s, we were fortunate to have a flat empty building lot next to our house, at a slightly lower level than our driveway. My dad, and the neighbour on the other side of the sandlot, flooded the lot as soon as the weather was cold enough. All the kids on the street had our own private hockey rink – not especially large, and nothing fancy – but by gosh, it was ours! Fond memories of simpler times.
    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and yours, Randy, and to all our Junior hockey fans.

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