He shoots but he doesn’t score

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - EDITORIAL - Steve Bartlett

Please don’t share these words with the kids on my Novice hockey team, The Jets.

Be­cause they might lose faith in their co-coach.

Or they might make fun of me in the dress­ing room, which has hap­pened A LOT over the years.

Here’s my deal with hockey: I’m over­flow­ing with pas­sion for the game, but below empty when it comes to play­ing tal­ent.

I con­sider my­self Canada’s Worst Rec Hockey Player™.

But more than four decades af­ter my first strides on a back­yard rink iced by my dad and old­est brother, I still refuse to let tal­ent get in the way of puck pur­suits.

I play as much as pos­si­ble, frus­trat­ing line­mates and mak­ing goalies look good wher­ever I go.

Work­ing in the me­dia some­times brings op­por­tu­ni­ties to play in char­ity games, which al­low the jour­nal­is­tic corpse … Oops, I mean “corps” ... to raise cash for a cause and then drink beer, be­cause it’s in­cred­i­bly hard for a bunch of re­porters to find a rea­son to do the lat­ter.

Through work, I’ve been for­tu­nate to play along­side for­mer Nhlers, against the famed Fly­ing Fa­thers, and on an oval rink in a Mid­dle Eastern shop­ping mall.

I’ve strug­gled through, and spent lots of time on my an­kles, but loved ev­ery minute.

For the past few sea­sons, I’ve been try­ing to pass the fig­u­ra­tive puck — my love of the game — to my son.

I have no il­lu­sions of him turn­ing pro or be­ing a su­per­star. I just want to in­tro­duce him to hockey with the off chance he may en­joy it as much as I do. It’s also a great op­por­tu­nity to spend time to­gether.

This is my sec­ond sea­son coach­ing his team and I take him to a power-skat­ing ses­sion when­ever pos­si­ble.

A re­cent power-skat­ing ses­sion proved to be the low­est point in my hockey life — worse than all those times I scored on my own net or passed to the wrong team.

And, this time, I wasn’t even on the ice!

One of my son’s great friends, who also hap­pens to be a cousin, rode with us to the rink.

He’s nine and asked for help with his skates. No prob­lem what­so­ever.

When they got on the ice and started warm­ing up, it was ob­vi­ous the kid was hav­ing a prob­lem get­ting around, which was odd be­cause he’s a good young player.

“Hmm,” I thought, “He must have just had his skates sharp­ened or maybe they are new and not bro­ken in.”

I ducked out for a cof­fee and re­turned to find him skat­ing much bet­ter.

His ear­lier dif­fi­cul­ties never crossed my mind again un­til he got off the ice.

“Steve!” he said in an ex­as­per­ated tone, “The in­struc­tor had to take me to the bench to redo my skates. You put them on the wrong feet!”

Sigh.

A rookie mis­take. If only.

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