He shoots but he doesn’t score
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!”
A rookie mistake. If only.