Hockey everywhere as a child in Saskatoon. Playing shinny, with tennis balls and no skates, at recess. Hockey in the evenings and weekends. Many different teams, leagues, skill levels. All rinks being outdoors. Playing in snowstorms. Dedication to personal heroes of the game, chosen from among the six teams in the league. A time when it was also unthinkable for girls to be playing hockey, and where their only option was figure skates.
My hero was Jacques Laperrière, of the Montreal Canadiens. He played defence. I played defence; wanted to be just like him. He was always cool, always reliable. Didn’t smile much, but also wasn’t frowning or mean. Watching him on television, the camera would swing to the blue line and there he would be. Stopping the puck and passing it. Never a wannabe forward. Helping the team, ahead of personal glory. Always hanging back, the ready defender. Scoring lots of assists.
In his first year with the Canadiens (1963-1964), he won the Calder Memorial Trophy, as rookie of the year. Two seasons later (1965-1966), he won the James Norris Memorial Trophy, for being the best defenseman during the regular season. I don’t recall him ever being in a fight. In the same way that I don’t recall any fights when we played hockey at that time in Saskatoon; fighting being equally unthinkable to ten year-olds.
Stopped playing hockey after the commencement of my “special” education. Didn’t stop admiring Jacques Laperrière. Still attracted to watching the game on television, to see where he would be when the camera swung. There he was, at the point.
No need to see him interviewed; don’t recall many interviews in any event. He simply played the game to the best of his ability, contributing to team over self.
Was at an Ottawa Senators game a few years ago, with my younger daughter. Major fight breaking out. Both teams rushing on the ice to beat on each other. Walked out; didn’t want my daughter to witness this. Complained to the ushers. Whatcanyoudo, whatcanyoudo, itswhattheylike…
My younger daughter loves hockey cards and newspaper hockey photos. We spend time poring over the newspapers for new hockey pictures for her. Never selecting one with a fight. The game I knew and the game my younger daughter loves is that of the spirit of Jacques Laperrière. Miss that spirit. Very much.