I've waited for over 20 years...

I became a hockey fan early in my life...probably around 4 or 5.  My dad was a hockey fan.  So I was one too.

My first favourite team was the Philadephia Flyers.  Why?  Because they had a player name Darrell Sittler and even though he spelled his name wrong, it was my first connection to the NHL: that guy with the puck, scoring the goal, has the same name as me.  It was magic. 

My dad, seeing my newfound love of hockey, helped me out by buying me hockey cards which I taped onto the back of record covers and then lined my walls with them.  How many rookie cards did I scotch tape to an album cover only to later have them torn and thrown out.  What would they be worth now?  More in sentiment because they were given to me by my father but still...they'd be worth a penny or two.
He also bought me hockey pucks.  I had every hockey puck from every NHL team there was. I remember them proudly displayed on a shelf in my room.  I was 6.  All these years later I only have one puck left - somehow it made it 20 odd years and sits in my office in a box.  I think I'll find a shelf for it now. 

When my dad would watch hockey I would watch hockey. When his team scored he pumped his fist in the air with an excited "YESSS!!!"  It was awesome.  When it was too late for me to stay up and I'd have to go to bed I'd lie awake waiting to hear the "YESSS!!" and I would do the same until they stopped and the game was over and I'd go to sleep dreaming of hockey.

I loved the Philly insignia. I used to draw it a lot.  Dad got me a philly jersey one year and I wore the orange, black, white jersey with pride.  I never actually wanted to be a hockey player at this point.  I was happy being a proud fan.

Then in juniour high I discovered two things.  Well..three. 

Ball Hockey

Montreal Canadiens

Patrick Roy

These three things changed my life.  My friends were ball hockey players and got me into it.  I was a big guy, not very in shape so they put me in goal.  and ...I ...fell...in...LOVE with being a goalie. My friends taught me what to do and I quickly progressed becoming one of the better ball hockey goalies in our leauge.  Yes...we had a league.  Through my friend Scott McCourt I discovered both the Montreal Canadiens and with my newfound interest in goalies I found #33 Patrick Roy.

Oh I wanted to be him so bad.  He was so good.  Best goalie in the NHL.  Best playoff record of almost any goalie in most categories. Played the most playoff games, won the most playoff games, started the most playoff games, etc, etc.  He became my teenage hero.  I still have a blue binder covered in liguid paper designs of "33" "Roy" "Patrick Roy" and the habs insignia.  Inside is every Patrick Roy hockey card I owned.  I used to pour over it looking at his gear, his stance, and on the back reading every stat, and description of his unique but now always copied goaltender style.

I was such a fan that in grade 8 I carved with a needle his last name on my arm "ROY".  ( it was a fad then..don't ask..I wasn't the only one )

Except to those who didn't know what it was about I was the only guy with a mans first name scabbed onto my arm.

"Who is Roy? Your boyfriend?!?!! HAHAHAHAHA"

The scab quickly became Roy with 33 underneath. On certain days in the summer, in just the right light I can still see that scar.

Well no I can't but it sounded pretty funny!

When I discovered Patrick Roy, Ball hockey goaltending, and the Montreal Canadiens ( my new and now favourite team ) my fandom changed.  After seeing them win the cup on June 9 1993 I seriously wanted to become a hockey player. Not just any hockey player.  A Goalie..for the Montreal Canadiens..the guy that would take over for Patrick Roy when he retired.

One problem...I couldn't skate.  Like...at all...like..I look like a 4 year old, ankles bent out, trying to skate for the first time.  and I still do.

So...I wanted to become the first NHL goalie that didn't skate and I was set to pursue this goal.  I worked so hard at my ball hockey skills...I thought...they'd be essential for proper development of this dream.
Luckily I discovered the Bass in grade 9 and that insane dream went out the window. Phew!!! Dodged that bullet!

Yes I picked up the bass and that part of my life took over.  The hockey watching dropped off.  My obession with the Canadiens lapsed...I was still a fan..but I was like a lapsed Catholic...still a fan but I rarely went to hockey church.

Even that hockey kindled relationship with my father dwindled.  I was a late teen. A Bassist. I didn't have a whole lot in common with my dad anymore.  I remember at one point he got tickets for a game when Ottawa had their farm team here and I was like.."ah..you probably want to take someone else...I'm not really in to that anymore"

I'm sure it killed him.  I was a 17 year old punk and didn't know it.  I was rebelling against his promise.  A promise I didn't mention above.  He always used to say "When we go to an NHL game..." "When I take you to a game..." "oh but wait until we go to a game"

He never took me.

and even though the logical part of my brain realized it was next to impossible for us to go to a game due to our financial situation I was still hurt the day I realized...he's never going to take me.  My poor father made other promises that he never kept.  Pushed me farther away until that day when an NHL farm team was basically on our door step and he bought tickets for us to go...the closest thing that he could give me to a real NHL game and I said..."ah..you probably want to take someone else...I'm not really in to that anymore".  I know now I was really saying @#$#@ You for not ever taking me when you said you would.
and I regret it so much.

That moment was forgotten in my headspace until after he died.  and I realized what I had said...not the words but the meaning...and a part of me died.  I cried and I cried.  My father was trying to reach out to me...trying to patch that problem..trying to reconnect...and I slapped him in the face, stabbed him in the heart.  What happened to his little boy with the hockey cards and the pucks, the one who lied awake listening to his cheers in the next room as the sounds of hockey filled the house.  For him I can't imagine how horrible that felt.  He lost his son.  He lost his chance for redemption.  Depressing. 

I have a son now...and dear God I hope Jacob and I never come to that.

But...in the few years before he died we patched things up.  Not through hockey but just through life. Three days before he died I sat alone with him in a room at the Prince Edward Home and told him everything I every wanted to tell him.  How proud I was to be his son and how great it was to have him as a Dad.  I thanked him for all he taught me and all he gave to me in wisdom and experience.  I thank God for that day.  That I finally had the courage to say these things.  but why do we wait? and I still wait though I try not to.
A couple years back I got back into hockey.  Started watching it once in a while - following the now terrible Canadiens - moreso just going for any Canadian team.  The last playoff race was so great...Calgary and Tamba Bay. I wanted calgary to win for Canada but I wanted tampa bay to win for PEI's Brad Richards.
That summer Elizabeth got a job offer in Calgary and though I didn't want to go I thought...HOCKEY!! 
and then the lockout happened and there was no NHL for the entire time I was in Calgary. 

We move back to PEI and boom...hockey is back....I jinxed it!

This year I'm so into the new NHL.  and I've been watching every Canadiens game I can.  and they're doing awesome. I watched their post Olympic race to the playoffs and watched as they squeaked in in the last week of regular season. 

So after over 20 years I'm reconciling with my father in a new way. 

Yesterday, tickets went on sale for the playoffs.  Elizabeth knows how much this means to me.  So we spent over an hour on our computers and phone/cell phones trying to get me a single ticket for a Montreal Canadiens playoff game...and she got one.  I went for the best available seat and on Apr 28th, a week from tomorrow, I'll be sitting in the Presige section 111 row FF which means I'm directly across from the players bench..very close to the penalty box...6 Rows up from the Ice.

Dad, thanks for giving me a love for hockey.  Your Grandson Jacob and I watch hockey together and always think of you.  He's only two months old so he gets a little scared when I say "YESS!!!" but I'm sure he'll learn to love it just like I did.

I'll be thinking of you next Friday and don't worry...I forgive you.


  1. :) that's a story that made me smile (bitter sweet)and as a father and a former rebel without a cause/clue I can appreciate my parents more

    1. Thanks for the comment ... Yeah perspective is amazing stuff


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