I’m not one of those handyman, McGyver types. I hold my own when it comes to fixing busted clothes-dryers, replacing panes of broken glass and I’ll even change the oil on my own cars but I don’t build entire rec rooms, turn 4 cylinder engines into V-8’s with popular mechanics kits or wire the cottage in order to have ready-made ice in a fridge at cocktail hour. Frankly, I’m either too lazy, not bright enough or just plain not interested in most cases.
However, when it comes to hockey, I’ve always had a bit of a strange streak in my genes when it comes to nets. In our backyard rink at home several years ago, I deemed the standard Canadian Tire offerings just a little too bush league. All but the mother-of-all-nets they sell just seemed to flimsy to suit me. So…counter to my natural tendencies, I decided to build a better a bet hockey net and watch as the world beat a path to my backyard.
With my son in tow, (god bless little kids ‘cuz they get excited by dumb-ass ideas their dads cook up when they’re still too young to know any better), I headed off to home depot. I went straight to the plumbing section, grabbed a bunch of sections of galvanized pipe, various elbows and with my tape measure, stood their ciphering for a few minutes before I headed for the checkout.
As I stood looking, one of the typical handyman guys that Home Depots hires to provide customer service to other like-minded gents, showed up and nodded approvingly at the raw materials in my cart that were obviously the beginnings of some leading edge plumbing project.
“Roughing in a downstairs bathroom?” he asked, sort of a mano-a-mano introduction.
“Nope, buildin’ a hockey net for the backyard rink” I replied.
What followed was a combination blank stare and contemptuous grunt. He took a second look at the cart then at me and then walked away.
Knowing enough about the measure twice, cut once edict, I took one last run through my net specs that I had written before leaving home and satisfied, we had this thing nailed, we headed for the checkout. A quick stop on the way home at a sports store allowed us to purchase the mesh and then off home we headed to assemble the home plumbing supplies into a net that would withstand the hardest slapshot any neighbourhook kid could take (and mine too, but no trouble there).
This net served many wonderful years in our backyard rink but as with all living things, it got old and weary and passed away this past spring, neglected in its later years by lack of physical exercise brought on by an absence of the backyard rink brought on by the addition of a dog to our family two years ago.
Sigh. I miss that rink and I miss that net in its glory days. I read somewhere that Bryan Trottier, when growing up in the prairies, had a family dog that he taught to play goal. At the end of the dog’s life, it was toothless like many an old hockey player. Hmmmm.