I lived and breathed baseball growing up all the way into my mid-twenties, so it came as somewhat of a surprise when Nolan, who really doesn’t like physicality (unless he’s settling a score with Graham or Austin), went all-in on hockey.
He’s decided he wanted to play, not-so coincidentally, just a few months after he immersed himself in the Stanley Cup Playoffs – the Washington Capitals are his favorite team and Alexander Ovechkin his favorite player. (I’m not even mad that he’s a front-running 7-year-old).
I grew up an Islanders fan and used to go to a decent amount of games at Nassau Coliseum, aka The Barn, aka The Mausoleum. Unfortunately I missed out on the back-to-back-to-back-to-back championships from 1980-83. Whenever we went, chances are they lost. But there’s something about sitting in the stands at a hockey game that you don’t get from any other major sport. The continuously fast-paced athleticism, the hissing of skate blades on the ice, the ringing of the pipes when a slapshot missed the mark. There really is no other sport like it.
When I was growing up, many a night were spent playing roller hockey for hours on end on the smooth pavement of the K-Mart parking lot. I never played ice hockey growing up and I guess you can call what I just described as “playing” – I wasn’t very good, I knew it, but that didn’t matter. We were having a fucking blast. Besides, baseball was my game.
Fast-forward 23+ years. Nolan seems to be getting more enjoyment and excitement out of hockey than I ever did. It’s nonstop on the always-scuffed hardwood floors thanks to the mini Franklin floor hockey set we got him five years ago (foreshadowing?).
So when the Boston Bruins had their Learn to Play Hockey Program set up in Hartford, we went and signed him up ($100 included a fitting for all equipment, a stick, and four learn-to-skate lessons).
We went to a few open skates before the lessons started and without any guidance, he took to it pretty well. Did he fall 500 times? Yeah. But did he get up 501? Absolutely.
He’s been at it for around three months and hasn’t lost any of his enthusiasm for the game. He also hasn’t complained about the early-morning practices (out the door by 6:40 or 7:40 on the weekends), and he looks so happy out on the ice.
Every morning he wakes up, walks to the living room, and immediately flips on NHL.tv to watch highlights of the previous night’s games, always cheering the home team (even if it is the Rangers). But he cheers for goals – ALL goals – which is weird since he seems like more of a defenseman on the ice (not that defensemen can’t score).
Anyway, I think Santa will be bringing a street hockey goal, sticks, and hockey balls for Christmas so we can have some fun.
Being a parent is pretty awesome most of the tim, even though raising these three boys makes me wanna lose my mind sometimes.
I thanked him the other day for loving hockey as much as he does because his love for it has renewed my enjoyment of the game. I’m not sure he had any idea why I had thanked him for playing hockey, but that’s besides the point.