I just got out of a post-hockey shower, so a blog post is in order while my blood is still pumping.
I can still remember learning to skate. I was four or five years old, and my skates were Microns–those plastic molded skates that had removable cloth inserts. I had pairs like that a few years into my hockey career. Take note that this is a sure-fire way to NOT be one of the cool kids.
Those Microns and me skated all over the ice at the old Mortlach rink, pushing a chair around like some sort of pre-school skating walker. My mom says she remembers watching my first hockey games, laughing at how much we looked like giant bobble-heads on ice.
I played all through my younger years, right up until the end of Pee Wee. A couple things saw me sit out a season, pick up a basketball, and move on.
Upon returning home to Canada from China, our church hockey team had a few spots open. Some off-season bargain-hunting rounded me up my equipment, and within the first minute on the ice, I knew I had missed this game more than I’d realized.
There are so many small things about hockey that set it apart. Of course, there’s the speed, skill, and excitement. But I’m talking more simply right now…
The smell of the rink after the zamboni pulls off.
The sounds of blades and sticks on ice or of a puck ringing off a post.
The feeling of a sharp turn or quick stop on your skates.
The feeling of a pass perfectly placed or a shot finding the back of the net. (Note: I’m better informed about the other three pleasures than these particular ones.)
Simple pleasures to a simple fellow, I suppose.
Anyway, my resurrected hockey career has confirmed a few things: It was a smart move to go to college instead of trying for the draft, it was a poor move to have never learned how to slapshot, and I’d better hold on to my two or three great hockey stories from a previous lifetime. I don’t appear on the verge of creating many new ones. When I was ten years old, everyone told me what a great skater I was. After enduring several years of figure skating, I should have been!
The problem? I’m still a great skater… for a ten-year-old.