Sunday, December 07, 2008


There are some things embedded in any culture that speak volumes about the places they come from.

Once you've experienced Mexico's "Day of the Dead" or stood amid the smoke from pyres along the Ganges, you look at your own mortality much differently.

Brits may cringe at "Coronation Street" and Aussies grimace at the suggestion they "put another shrimp on the barbie", but the flavor of "The Rover's Return" still resides in every modern pub and nothing augments a cold bevvie better than a sizzling Crystal Bay prawn.

In Canada, we're in love with hockey. Barely a parent escapes the 5:00 a.m. ritual of tying skates on our sons and daughters so they can be imbued with the thrill of speeding down the ice, scoring a goal and going into the boards with your elbows up.

When others question the game's on-ice fighting, cheap shots and trash talk, we silently question their masculinity and their reliability in times of trouble. In fact, many of us believe the easy-going nature of Canadians is directly related to our understanding that scores are best settled on the ice.

Hockey arenas are the centers of our communities and this time of year they are where we go to drop off bags of groceries and toys for the needy. But even some of that is connected to the game -- especially on Teddy Bear Night.

Virtually every small town, semi-pro and minor league team hosts one of these during our Christmas season. The concept is simple...

Bring a stuffed animal to the arena.

Set it in your lap.

Watch the game.

And when the home team scores its first goal you hurl your bear onto the ice. As Rink Announcers are fond of saying, "It's Panda-monium".

Play is suspended and the bears are collected and donated to charities. Teams like the Calgary Hitmen annually truck up to 30,000 off the ice. Given the capacity of their arena, this means quite a few fans are sneaking in extra bears.

The whole process is stupid but fun -- sort of the way most of us actually play hockey.

Enjoy your Sunday -- and don't forget to duck.

1 comment:

Elize said...

Thanks so much for coming out with us for a few drinks Jim! It was great to get your perspective on the industry and just... chill in the incredibly chill air.

Thanks again!