I happened to spend some time in the emergency room last
week for my ongoing health battles. (No need to get alarmed, everything is for
the most part under control.) I was admitted for the better part of two days
and I started to suffer from extreme boredom. So I did what any other crazy
patient would do, which is whip out their phone and start looking up things. Now, don’t
tell them I was on it though since I probably screwed up the I.V. thing I was hooked
up to, but I digress.
The NHL season had been in full swing for a couple days at this point. Also by
this point I had started to hear the nastiness of comments coming from almost
every disgruntled fanbase in the league. It wasn’t just normal trash talk towards each
other but it was directed to THEIR OWN TEAMS. Read past the jump!
Disgusted with the way their teams have been playing, fans of early cellar-dwellers began the chants of
“diving for McDavid” and “tanking for Eichel” all over social media. You know
what, that really irked me. Then there’s the two idiots from Edmonton and
Toronto who threw their jerseys onto the ice. Which irked me even more. (I got
solace in the fact that the fan in Edmonton stupidly enough threw his
smartphone along with it. Wow. That’s dense.)
I don’t care if those jerseys were fake or not. You’re going to spend your hard
earned money by buying a not so cheap ticket to the game, (because let’s face
it, you’d have to be relatively close for the jersey to make it onto the ice) food
and beer, possibly parking and then throw your either couple hundred dollar or
30 dollar jersey onto the ice just to get a cheap laugh from your buddies? You
my friend, are a jerk, but I’m glad you have that much income at your
disposal unlike the rest of us.
SUCK IT UP BUTTERCUP
So your team is horrible, playing crappy and the losses are piling up. You
think you’re the only one who sees that? What about the players who bust their
asses night in and night out for your enjoyment? “Oh but they’re getting paid
muchos money, they don’t care about winning; they don’t care about the fans!”
Like hell, they don’t! Throwing your
jersey and letting that shield touch the ice is probably a bigger insult to the
players on your team then directing a couple of swear words to their face.
You know what the best part about this is?
IT’S ONLY THE BEGINNING OF THE DAMN
SEASON! OH MY GOD, I CAN’T STRESS THAT ENOUGH.
(Unless you’re a fan of this guy. Then complain all you want.)
The National Hockey League season is 82 pain filled and wince-inducing games.
You’re going to start complaining after two or three losses? Pack up your bags
you fair weathered fan and go watch something else because I’d hate to see how
you react when your team goes on a 15 game losing skid.
This whole dilemma made me think of how much the game has changed since I was a
little girl. I don’t know about you, but I wasn’t as pumped for this NHL season
as I have been in years past. Maybe it’s just a getting older and being
nostalgic about simpler times and maybe it’s because at that point I hadn’t
seen what a great job Rogers has down so far with their takeover. (I’m serious.
I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of Hometown Hockey on Sunday night! That my
friends is going to be to this generation what Hockey Night in Canada was to
us.) I wrote about it at length on my own personal blog; give it a read and see if you agree with me.
The other thing it made me think of while I was laying in that hospital bed is
how these actions would’ve happened let’s say, 20 years ago. I’m sure these
things did happen; I’m sure jerseys got thrown on the ice. I just feel that
legends of back then would take it even harder than the players of today.
SPEAKING OF LEGENDS…
It’s no secret that I love my enforcers. There’s just something about that role
on the ice that can’t fill any other part of my hockey loving heart. I also couldn’t
help to see my youth fly by me in that hospital bed as I reminisced. Adorning
the walls of my room with the likes of Mike Modano, Peter Forsberg, and Eric
Lindros when I was a little girl was a man who was born and raised just a few
highways down from me. That man wore the black, orange and yellow of the 1990’s
Vancouver Canucks and helped instill fear into anyone who stepped in the path
of Trevor Linden or Pavel Bure.
He answered to the name of “The Maniwaki Mauler” or “The Algonquin Assassin”.
Now, these names may come across as a bit murderous in nature. Make no mistake
of it; on the ice, that’s what Gino Odjick intended to do.
Born on the Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation reserve in 1970, Odjick grew
to be a monstorous 6’3”. Add a pair of skates and you can just feel his
presence staring down at you without him even being there. A proud member of
the Algonquin nation, the reserve was situated near the Gatineau Rivers and
just west of Maniwaki, Quebec. Currently, the town holds a population of just
over a thousand. When Odjick was growing up, it was less than 500. Getting to
the NHL, hell even playing recreational hockey, was sometimes just a dream of
many a kid from the reserve.
During the 1970’s and 1980’s, the natives of most reserves and the populations
of nearby cities could not seem to cohabitate in peace. Racial tensions were
rampant and it was here where Odjick learned what would soon become his trade
and calling: fighting.
(Pictured: What Odjick does to teams with fair-weather fans. Photo: greatesthockeylegends.com)
By the time the 1990 NHL Entry Draft rolled around, Odjick had completed two
years of major junior with the Laval Titan. He made a name for himself as he
collected close to 600 penalty minutes during the regular seasons. The Canucks
saw they had an enforcer in the making and knew he’d be an important cause to
the roster they were shaping. A young team that featured superstars in the
making like Linden, Bure, and Petr Nedved, it came as no shock when bench boss
Pat Quinn would throw Odjick on the line with each player. Quinn considered him
one of his own and Bure, another outsider if you will, became the best of
friends of Odjick.
Odjick’s toothless grin is the poster for the quintessential hockey player. The
only player that could top it would be Bobby Clarke’s as he’s hoisting the Cup
in the mid 70’s. He played eight seasons with the Canucks and remained a fan
favourite through all of them. If you want to see why, just watch the following
video. The arena became alive each time Odjick whipped off his gloves.
To get old is inevitable. I remember watching that game in it’s entirety when I
was a little girl and seeing that now makes me feel ancient. Gino has long
since retired from the NHL, in fact it’s been almost 13 years since he laced
them up for a professional NHL game. However, it never tires me to watch these
clips and admire guys like Odjick who night in and night out, defended their
teams, defended their teammates, and defended their fans. Made for damn sure that anybody
who crossed that red line or blue line would get a shoulder full. I miss the
hockey of those days.
Time is crazy.
Time allows the game we love so much to evolve and become better for future
generations. The age of Odjick and the enforcer is coming to an end as we speak
as teams start to fully employ more skilled fourth lines. Which is a fabulous thing,
as it gives more and more players a shot to hit the big time.
However, we must never forget our roots, history and where we come from in the
game. That’s a very important aspect in the game of hockey. It’s not just a
game, it’s a lifestyle.
I wondered how to end this article. I guess I’ll do it in the only way I know
AROUND THE TRENCHES IN THE HOCKEY WORLD
In case you missed the inaugural broadcast of Rogers’ Hometown Hockey last Sunday, here’s an interesting and emotional look at the story of Ian Jenkins whose life and hockey career were cut extremely short.
The Manchester Phoenix of the UK’s English Premier Ice Hockey League are hoping to raise 5,000 pounds for autism by November 3rd. How? With proceeds from purchases of a NUDE calender modeled by the players themselves. Go donate ladies.