3 days ago
Thursday, April 8, 2010
I used to have favourite hockey teams. As a boy, it was Les Canadiens. Ah oui! Les Ca-na-diens! Les super canadiens de Montreal! Montreal had just captured four straight cups. Dryden had retired. Lemaire fled to coach in France. Scotty bolted for Buffalo. But they were still Les Glorieux. They were the default game on CBC, not Ballard's Maple Laffs. The elegant Danny Gallivan, Dick Irvin narrating from right to left on your radio dial. They lost Dryden to a lucrative legal profession, but they still had Bunny. And Denis Herron. That didn't go too well. But they were Les Glorieux. As the economics of hockey dictated that the Laffs become Canada's team, I remained loyal. Never more than seven years without a cup -- 1978/79, 1985/86, 1992/93.
Then Ottawa gets their NHL franchise. That tribal, or rather civic affiliation was forged during my years of exile in Vancouver and central New Jersey, that hockey hotbed and home of the ECHL's Trenton Titans. Needless to say, neither the hapless Canucks nor the mighty Titans inspired much civic humanist zeal. And Ottawa, well they are continuing their Great Tradition of perpetual disappointment. Although I did nearly get drownded, as the Young Artist would have said, in the charivari that was the "Elgin Mile" back in 2007. At the end of all those days, how did I possibly negotiate those stairs down to the pisserie at the Fox and Feather? Why couldn't I have just pissed off the balcony? In the topsy-turveydom, nobody would have even noticed. I think I might have done it a couple of times.
But now, its no longer about the teams. "Who do YOU cheer for"?, people ask over enthusiastically. Nobody, I says. I only have interest in individual players on my keeper league "fantasy" team. Such an odd term. In my lurid fantasies, hockey doesn't usually feature very prominently. "Did you watch the game last night"? Yeah, Florida eked out a thrilling 2-1 overtime win over Columbus. Matthias picked up an assist! People usually just walk away confused and unsatisfied, deprived of their collective civic pride.
They don't know the feeling. The addiction. The solipsistic self-love of building your own juggernaut. Building the levee, gulp by gulp. Kane, Duchene, Perry, Horton, Fabian Brunnstrom.
And the diadem at the centre of the Crown, Steve Stamkos.