Hockey Diplomacy

Embassy terraceTuesday afternoon saw a nice crowd of hockey aficionados turn out for the Canadian Embassy’s annual Hockey Day luncheon. This event is held every spring and it coincides with a Canadian team’s visit to Verizon.

Travel timing didn’t work out for Leafs players or brass to show up in big numbers, but that didn’t dampen the spirits of over 100 attendees or detract at all from the hockey chatter.

And what an appropriate week to hold this – Canada Week for the Caps.

May DalyIt was a great event. Guests were encouraged to wear their favorite jerseys – so refreshing from the typical DC garb of drab dark suits. We spotted gear from the Leafs, Jets, mystery Euro leagues, and a couple from area men’s league teams. My colleague Bill had a very cool Baltimore Bandits (AHL, 1995-1997) sweater while I was sporting my Caps Winter Classic Laughlin #18 jersey. The only one not impressed by that was CSN’s Alan May. OK, Alan May – cool guy or coolest guy ever? Hint: the latter.

GMGM EmbassyThe luncheon was held in a beautiful room high atop the Pennsylvania Avenue embassy and offered a commanding view of the Capitol. Attendees were treated to a beer and wine bar, and in the case of your intrepid teetotaler reporter, plenty of soft drinks. Servers brought out trays upon trays of tasty snackies – sliders and some yummy mini-pizzas loaded with bacon. Mmmm!!!! Bacon.

Headliners for the luncheon were dozens of members of the USA Warrior Ice Hockey Program, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly, Caps GM, George McPhee and from TSN, hockey analyst Gord Miller.

We were welcomed by Canadian Air Force Attaché, Colonel Scott Howden. In brief remarks, he first offered condolences to those lost and injured in Boston – a sober and appropriate reminder given that the suffering seen Monday was an all too familiar sight to the many active duty military and veterans in the audience.

WW 3 shotCol. Howden then talked hockey, specifically his wish to see all Canadian NHL teams make it to the playoffs (at the expense of the Rangers and Isles). For one particular Canadian team, he hoped that they weren’t peaking too soon – the Edmonton Oilers. Chuckles rippled through the hockey-savvy crowd.

Next up, Canadian Defence (we’re spelling this the right way) Attaché, Major General Nicolas Matern, spoke of the great work the Warriors program – a transition for soldiers to rehabilitate. He recognized them for their military service off the ice and their hard work on.

Amb. Doer, Col. Howden, Maj. Gen. Matern

Amb. Doer, Col. Howden, Maj. Gen. Matern

Canadian Ambassador Gary Doer wrapped the program and reminded all to enter the raffle for two sweaters that were up for grabs, Caps and Leafs. Funds raised from that go to the Warriors program. We were then ushered out onto the terrace for a group photo, my pal and I taking a knee in the front.

All in all, a great afternoon and our thanks to the embassy staff for making us feel welcome. These events usually see an Eastern Conference Canadian team featured, but we can expect one from the Western Conference for the 2014 luncheon. I’d say which team it is but that wouldn’t be very diplomatic of me.

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