Nobody pays that much attention to beer league hockey.
Mostly they’re made up of guys just trying to stay in shape. For every guy who’s still got the moves from his teens, there are a dozen who are clearly over the hill.
Some played a little Junior. One or two got a sniff from a semi-pro team. But they all had a moment in pre or post-puberty when they shone and wondered if they might one day play in the Bigs.
That possibility is long dead now. They come to the rink to hang with old friends, get away from the wife and kids, forget the crappy day they had at work.
A few want to maintain the same waist size. Several more look forward to the couple of cold ones and plate of wings that button the night.
In Canada, they’re the economic backbone of recreational hockey. Whether its two in the afternoon or four in the morning, these gaggles of guys are paying for ice time that keeps the rinks open and reasonable priced for the kid teams.
They fork out thousands each year to buy new equipment and sticks. They rent goalies. They fund the sports bars or pop for the case of 24 that gets kicked from one to another across the dressing room floor as they get their wind back.
But there’s always a moment, when somebody recounts the night’s one special play or they go silent watching the NHL highlight reel on the big screen over the bar, when you know they still wonder what it would’ve been like to play in front of a crowd or been that guy mobbed by jubilant teammates.
We all want that moment. Just one time. Just to know if it feels as good as we’ve dreamed it must.
This Sunday, during the Super Bowl, Budweiser will run a commercial featuring those guys from the Beer Leagues.
It was filmed in Port Credit, Ontario, a blue collar town where the Air Canada Arena where Toronto’s Maple Leafs play is just a white dot across the lake.
And while it’s just another commercial shilling beer, it’s really about that moment those guys have always wondered about.
For every Canadian guy, and anybody else who’s never touched their dream, it’s a very special moment.