Category Archives: Folklore

As Good As It Gets

Our last night of spring hockey in Cambridge last night was a thing of beauty for me.  The trifecta for someone my age – I cut my stick off (again – another inch and a half) and voila, magic, my legs felt good and the heat and humidity slowed the ice to a slushy crawl so that the young guns were suddenly only two gears quicker than I for a change.

Someone commented they hadn’t seen ice this soft ever….inside, which immediately conjured up images of outdoor rinks in late February that had been skated on all day Saturday and were more snow than ice.  That’s old school baby, that’s where you learn to stick handle, when you’re not just trying to hang on to the puck but fight off six checkers and a pound of snow on your blade.

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Filed under Folklore, shinny

Letting Amateurs Play For The Stanley Cup

As was the case in 2004 when the NHL season was scuppered completely, the idea is again being floated that if this season is shot completely that perhaps we should find some way to allow amateurs to compete for old Lord Stanley’s beaker.

Some would argue this woul taint it but I’m firmly in the camp that it would add to the lore of the grand prize of hockey.   I for one would be ready to enter the Blue team from this year’s WOHL into any such tournament.  These are character guys who are loaded with passion for the game and we’re probably as good or better than the other Blue and White team down the highway to the east, so why not?

Perhaps a tournament could be organized that draws teams randomly, lottery ball style, where all comers would be given an equal shot.   A peewee team, a group of old NHL wannabees, an industrial league team, guys and ladies alike would be given equal chance to play for the fame of having their names alongside Beliveau, Orr, Gretz and Mess.

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Filed under Canada, Fantasy, Folklore, wishlists

The Blowtorch and It’s Place in the Game

George Orwell opined that serious sport “is war minus the shooting”.   Given that, you have to love and respect any sport that requires the use of a blowtorch in a non-weapon sense.  Now those of you who aren’t schooled in the game may need to loose the hounds of your imagination to conjure up just how the handyman’s flamethrower fits into hockey.  Even some of you who are pretty familiar with the game might be scratching your head a bit on this one.

However, make no mistake about it, the blowtorch belongs and is sometimes a key element of a good game even being able to start.  You see, for those of my generation (and that is to say a generation where there wasn’t quite as much parental oversight as there is today), fire was as much an avenue of entertainment as are video games and iphones today.

Yes, it was a simpler time when I grew up than it is today.  In the absence of themed birthday parties held at venues staffed by strangers who you pay to “do a craft” with your kids, I had parents that were just hip enough to allow me to have some buddies over after school on my birthday.  We’d play driveway hockey and then have a chocolate cake made with quarters, nickels and dimes that had been thrown into cake batter.  You had to be a bit careful not to swallow a coin but if you did, the risk of choking and dying was muted by the fact that families were generally larger back then and losing one kid in such an accident, while painful, did make more room for everyone else left behind.  Good times.

But what does this have to do with fire you ask?  Well, I simply needed to set the stage properly because it makes sense that any generation that grew up with metallic hazards in their birthday cakes when they were just wee laddies would be a generation that learned early how to flood their own rinks.  I don’t remember my mom ever flooding our rink.  (Nor do I remember my wife ever flooding the next generation’s rink in our backyard…but I digress again).

Anyway, for those of you who have ever flooded a backyard rink, one of the banes of your existence was inevitably that the hose faucet outside the house would freeze after each flood.  Now I know many of you will pronounce me a rube for not simply having something a little more elaborate to allow the hose to be run from the inside of the house, perhaps through a modified basement window, or from an upstairs bathroom through a sister’s bedroom window.  Good ideas both, but in my case, at my parents house and our current abode, we have always simply dragged the hose out of the basement, attached it to the outside tap and then turned it on, hoping like hell water would run.

And in a good winter, one where it’s actually code enough to make a rink, it just so happens that the tap generally is frozen and water would in fact, not run.  I’m not sure how old I was when my dad taught me how to use the blowtorch.  We moved into that house when I was nine so I think it was pretty shortly thereafter.  Open the valve, light the match…no wait, turn the tip away from your body, light the match and “whoomphhhh!” you have fire enough to cut through any ice-clogged tap in no time.

This was pretty fail-safe, even for a young kid, so long as you kept enough focus on where the flame was hitting the pipe.  At my parent’s joint, there was tintest under the siding so you had to be a bit careful not to warm that up too much, and if you did, “just throw some snow on it if it starts to glow” or some words to this effect were the advice I got.  Our current house is brick so no worries there, although I do remember having the paint on the extended pipe lighting up there for a few minutes one winter a few years back.

Once the torch had unclogged the frozen tap, the water would come gushing out (make sure to get the blow torch out of the way first, which required quick reflexes and good hands) and you’d had have to close the tap temporarily, attach the hose and then open ‘er up again.  Then you’re free to have at it with the hand-held Zamboni.

The other use for a blow torch was of course something a little less dangerous since it didn’t really risk burning one’s house down just to get a fresh layer of ice on your backyard paradise.  No, the other use was to heat up your stick blade just enough to allow you to bend a bit more curve into it.  I honestly don’t know if you can even do this with the newer composite sticks since I suspect they are made of some nuclear alloy that might implode with such treatment, threatening local humanity and that night’s game.

So next time you see some piece of mean-spirited military equipment, temper your fear and anger with the knowledge that it may someday come to a more peaceful use.  Perhaps those new F-35’s the Feds are thinking of buying could carpet bomb a Walmart parking lot with water and make a rink in seconds flat.  Night vision goggles would be awesome for those players who play on outdoor rinks in parks where there are no lights.

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Filed under dads, equipment, Folklore, Parents, rinks

More Than A Tape Job

Bobby Orr means a lot to anyone who has any love of the game.   Like all greats, he is known for many great things – championships, stats, magical plays, etc.

However, great players also have certain subtleties which add to their mystique.  In Orr’s case, one of things I always loved about him was the way he taped the blade of his stick.  A thin strip of black, not the whole blade.  Nothing fancy but unique in its own way.

Apparently those involved in another physical sport noticed as well and this simple black strip became the inspiration for Boston area strippers to shave their nether regions in a manner that exposed a similar black strip – known affectionately as “a Bobby Orr”.

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Filed under Folklore, NHL'ers, Style