Playoffs are exciting! And in Canada, hockey playoffs have the added fun of ushering in spring and the culmination of months of dark early morning practices, long drives to games and nagging injuries that may sideline crucial players. It has also been replete with nagging parents and the ever-looming promise of the NHL. Who knows when a scout for the Pittsburg Penguins may be in the stands?
We are in a rural Alberta Novice Tier 1 league! It is a competitive league and therefore winning is one of the objectives and also means our kids were born in 2006 / 2007; they are between 7-9 years of age and attend grades 2 or 3. The commitment they have shown to three practices and two-games per week is as impressive as their parents’ commitment to driving hundreds of kilometres on icy roads, to stay in pricey hotels while trying to avoid fast food.
As the season slowly draws to a close, the positives are numerous: great team environment, quality family time travelling to points throughout the province and good, presumably healthy competition with lots of excitement. Hockey in Canada ranks in importance with literacy and my son may now enjoy formal and informal play for the rest of his life. The team environment forces cohesion between players – and families – that may not always be natural, thereby building community and camaraderie.
Looking at NHL.COM there appears to be 832 players in the NHL. In the world there are somewhere around 2.5 million registered hockey players, thus giving your son or daughter roughly a 0.00033% chance of making the NHL. In real numbers Canadians do play the most hockey and it is a wonderful sport. But to those aggressive, abusive parents who feel the need to bang on the glass and swear at the young ref’s; “what is your plan B if your little superstar somehow doesn’t make the professional leagues?” And more specifically “what are you hoping to achieve with this huge commitment?”