When you were a little kid, did you ever go to one of your Dad’s games? It might have been only pickup hockey or perhaps a shop-league game (as my Dad’s league was called) but I remember the experience of being allowed to go to the rink late at night to watch him play. This was a rare privilege only bestowed during Christmas break or some other such holiday where I didn’t have to get up for school the next morning for the old guys always played late at night.
Going to such a game was quite a thrill, almost carnaval-like. Hey, these guys were almost real hockey players! They skated faster than my buddies, shot way harder than my buddies and they were HUGE with their equipment on. The goalies always had monstrous pads and their blockers and trappers were massive old brown hunks of leather and tape that looked like they’d been used a long while.
After the game, it got even better if you were allowed to go into the dressing room – until you realized that in that dressing room were a bunch of stinking, sweaty, ugly old guys. Guys that swore and yelled at each other and ribbed each other and, did i mention, they really stunk?
Even today, I can remember the funny names from those trips I took to the rink with my dad. There was someone named Sully (pretty common in every game in Peterborough) who obviously had some dental challenges , a goalie named the Meathead and the organizer was a guy named Tuds.
There was always the question about whether I played hockey too, what position I played and whether I was as good as my old man. There was always someone who would chime in that I was probably faster than my old man even now, or could shoot harder, and while I was pretty impressed they might think that, I didn’t understand the laughter that seem to be directed at my dad for those comments.