Archive for June, 2020

The World’s Greatest Hockey Player

Monday, June 15th, 2020

The World’s Greatest Hockey Player

The world’s greatest hockey player has yet to be invented but the following are the conditions that I believe will be required to produce such a creature.

I believe the best player of all will be a person of colour other than white. The finest athletes in other sports are generally non-white. This person is also likely to be a Canadian because Canada is the greatest hockey country and encourages diversity. It is also likely that the player will come from an average economic background and not be a child of privilege trained in an elite program. However, it is also probable that the person will be from a city and reared on public rinks and programs. Of course, it would be more interesting and romantic if the player came from a small town like Trail or Sudbury and their ice time came more from a natural pond or slough rather than the town rink. I also think that the player will be from a four on four system that allows more space for creativity than do the standard five on five system where the crowded ice surface makes it much easier to play defensive hockey by simply getting in the way of offensive thrusts. One could also envisage larger ice surfaces producing more creativity in the five on five game but that would require reducing the number of spectators which is an undesirable outcome in a game so dependent on crowd revenue. Of course, this scenario is just the musings of a long-time fan who has never spent a day coaching or otherwise contributing to the game. I don’t even have any kids in Hockey so I am certain that my musings will not carry much weight in the hockey establishment.

However, if I did have kids in the game or was coaching kids, I would be very concerned that the conditions are unlikely to foster the player I imagine. How are people of average or lower income to afford the game with its remarkable expenses. Skates and sticks are like a week’s wages and no kid likes to have anything less than the best. And how can the average training program compete with the elite club programs with their coaches, nutrition specialists and so on.

A few years ago, I attended a BC Hockey League event in Chilliwack called “The Showcase”. Each team played the other and the idea was to provide fans and scouts with a preview of the league for that season. I had the chance to speak with a number of the player’s parents. I was amazed to discover that nearly all the kids had come from special elite programs and many of the parents were top business executives, lawyers and such and were based in places like Calgary or Toronto. The BCHL is Junior A hockey and few of the players will earn professional contracts. Many will gain scholarships to NCAA schools in the states but that’s about it. It is excellent hockey for sure. Maybe the best deal for hockey fans in BC but when you see what people go through to get their kids even to this level, you wonder about my player who is likely a New Canadian with parents of limited resources who will be fortunate to play in a public league with a coach who is the parent of one of his teammates in a system that has yet to be accepted.

I won’t be holding my breath but it is nice to dream.