Hockey Night in Canada

It was a weird experience watching the men’s hockey final on the BBC.

(Ice) Hockey is a sport that’s largely ignored over here, except when the Olympics are taking place, even more than football is in the USA. I’ve been told that live Premiership matches are available in the US, so Britain’s attitude is more parochial than the North American one, since all we can get is the odd match at 4am on Channel 5.

Our own association goes back almost two decades to the last time someone had a go at organizing a pro hockey league in Britain. A few months before we were due to visit relatives in Vancouver, we learned that Bristol had a team. We went to watch them play and fell in love with the game, especially as we could drink with the players afterwards, and learned that one of them had a brother playing in Canada for the Vancouver Canucks. Many good evenings followed, often leading to major hangovers the next day…

Unfortunately the Bristol Bulldogs were wound up a few months later in one of those political shenanigens that bedevil organized sport from time to time. But by then we’d visited Vancouver and fallen in love with the place. And when we were over in BC in time for the Stanley Cup Final the next year, and the Canucks were in it, we were sold. Sadly, so were all the tickets.

So we had to make do with watching it on TV while we were over there; in fact it became almost obligatory for us to settle down with a match on the box, and the mere mention of ‘It’s hockey night in Canada’ still brings up goosebumps. The Canucks haven’t made the final since losing to the New York Rangers, and ever since then trying to follow them has been a bit like supporting Bristol City. They always promise much, then fade away…

After the all the preamble and pontificating by the talking heads on the panel, big matches like last night’s are usually anticlimatic. But not this one. Oh no…

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• March 1st, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0