Hey there. I seem to only write “yes, I’m still alive” posts of late. Which is probably not the best idea. Neither is writing in a series of halting sentences. Like that. And that. And that…
Anyway, yes I am here. It’s been a funny thing coming to finally write an update, mainly because I get an idea, some inspiration to write, and then it’s shot to hell by Winnipeg or an injury or it’s the obvious news. Or it’s just my brain working too hard on something that should be organic. Digression…
What I finally decided upon was a kind of…amalgam of ideas into one hopefully coherent post. There are 10 bonus points if you can guess the type of wine I was drinking while writing this. It’s shit, but it’s wine, so there’s that.
So first thing, I do owe the lockout a great debt. Other than keeping me out of more debt, it brought me deeper into non-NHL hockey. This isn’t to say I wasn’t interested in it, but it was always a secondary thing to watch to the big NHL. I have realized through going to a bunch of OHL or AHL games over the past few weeks and months. Barrie Colts, Oshawa Generals and the Toronto Marlies have all been the teams of this awakening I’ve had.
It all started in Barrie, going with friends as a way of seeing hockey that was relatively close to my house. I had not in recent memory been to an OHL game and had no idea what to expect. Especially in Barrie.
See, Barrie is this special place. And by special, I mean generally perceived not great. Just as a for instance, I was in Barrie visiting my mother and was solicited to buy crack at the bus station on Sunday evening. That was fun. And that is the general image a lot of people have of Barrie. While, yes, there are nogoodnicks, I realized it was also passionate about its hockey.
I didn’t expect great shakes going to the Colts games I did, I figured it’d be a meagre crowd of mainly friends and parents, more or less passively watching and giving baseline attention. I could not have been any more wrong, The place was packed, cheers all the time, all age groups, both teams represented…and sweet fancy lord they had big beer. Not that I ever had 5. Not to mention the Colts play a pretty fun game to watch.
I also briefly forayed into the world of the Oshawa Generals, alongside the lovely Kathryn and Sarah (y’all know them from Twitter). Again, it was an action-packed game, crowd really into it. Again, I realized I’ve been artificially holding myself back from all aspects of hockey, blinded by the big shiny thing.
That said, I’ve also taken to going to Toronto Marlies games. And boy, I suck. I really suck hard. Haaaaaaaard. I would definitely posit, rather safely, that the entertainment value of a Marlies game is on par (at minimum) with a Maple Leafs game. The first I was four rows from the ice. Which is the closest I’ve ever been to a hockey game. Second I was perched over centre ice. And I liked it. Very, very much. And I finally got to buy some You Can Play gear, the water bottle of which I proudly drink out of every day.
Plus I think I have a crush on a mascot, which is a terrifying prospect and I will not go further down that rabbit hole because I’m sure I’ve given a lot of you enough fodder by even admitting that, so much so that I’m rambling on in an attempt to distract you from the shame that I sort of maybe feel but not really and I’m certain many of you will laud this over me for a while but if you don’t I will build several churches in your honour. Or not. Moving on. Most importantly, they sell smoked meat sandwiches and poutine at Ricoh Coliseum. Which if that wasn’t reason enough to go already what with the good hockey, the vittles are certainly there.
I won’t get esoteric or anything (well, more esoteric), but I will implore any of you who have not given minor league teams a fairer shake, please do. The tickets are cheaper (in most markets), the hockey is as good (if not better) and it’s such a wonderful experience that you will not regret.
That being said, the season being back did bring out the crazy in me. That crazy is called driving to and from Detroit twice in three weeks for three hockey games. And no, I’m not also a closet Wings fan. Imagine if I added yet another team to my exhaustive list of teams I like. At last count it was what? 27 teams were my favourite? (It’s two, you vultures. Only ever two, and yes you can have two teams you love….)
Ok, brief aside on that parenthetical note: you can have multiple teams you are passionate about. I have been a Leafs fan since I can remember (despite photographic proof of me in a Panthers windbreaker, Kings shirt and a Sharks t-shirt while riding a pony). I’m fairly certain it was just a thing that was inevitable, as it would be growing up a whisker away from Toronto.
As for the Canucks, it started with a certain gentleman by the name of Markus Naslund and his quite attractive face. Yes, that is the reason I started liking the Canucks. It wasn’t as ratcheted up as the Leafs at the time, but it lay there, smoldering. The smoldering turned into smoke which turned into a spot fire which became a blaze and is now a flaming mess. So I have deep roots in the Leafs, but a crazy passion with the Canucks. Both exist simultaneously and coexist in peace. I watch each of their games, scream just as much, wear shirts/shirseys as often…
But back on point. There were two things I’ve really garnered from the 3 Wings games I saw. First, the Red Wings desperately need a new arena. I know this is not news, but compared to the other arenas I’ve been in for hockey or other events (been to Rogers Arena, the Joe, ACC, Scotiabank Place, Bell Centre, MSG, Staples Centre, Consol, St. Petes Times Tribune Examiner of Clearwater County Horatio Caine Forum Centre Arena Coliseum, Verizon…) it shows its age and desperate need of revitalization. If but for the fact it is impossible to move on the single concourse (yes, just one) during intermission or trying to leave the Joe needs a replacement.
I know a lot of ideas have been floated, but it does detract from the experience. The history of the building, however, cannot be overlooked. When you walk inside you do feel a part of history. It is quite a fun experience. Not to mention a distantish relative of mine was a Red Wing back in the day (Bill Gadsby). If you get there early enough, walk around the place, it’s history everywhere. It is one of the few remaining relics of hockey years gone by, and one of only three arenas not to have corporate sponsorship. Can you name the other two? Hmmmmm? I game one away earlier. But again, bonus points if you can name the remaining ones.
The second issue, while not unique to the Joe or the Wings, just happened to occur at the tail end of an 8-3 rout of the Canucks by the Wings. After the Wings scored their 8th, a chorus of USA USA USA chants erupted. Really? REALLY?! Removing the fact the Canucks have MORE AMERICANS ON THEIR ROSTER (a point which I loudly exclaimed to the amusement of others around me), this is a phenomenon I simply do not understand. When a Canadian team beats an American one, we don’t break out into O Canada or other chants (Olympics excluded and World Juniors, where it is ACTUALLY nationalistic).
And don’t make me bring up 1812 again (still). But really, I just don’t get it. Is it posturing to show how much of an alleged hat Canada is? Assist me in understanding this, I ask with actual curiosity. Maybe I’ll just start chants of ISAAC BROCK or TECUMSEH or LAURA SECORD clap clap clapclapclap. Because that shouldn’t be a surprise really coming from me. And, as some of you know, Laura Secord is my homegirl.
Hey, apparently wine brings out my Canadian nationalistic pride. Isn’t that a funny thing? Oh, it was a terrible Riesling by the way. Ugh, such a waste of $12.
But who cares, I’m going to have a soak in the tub with this terrible wine and listen to a 90s dance playlist on Songza -then bedtime – because that’s how Mondays go with me. Right now Da Funk is playing and I’m getting into a nice groove. My cue to stop typing and go. Godspeed all, and don’t do anything I wouldn’t do. ❤