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Stephen Roxborough

my first live NHL experience was the seventh game of the
1964 stanley cup final.

my grandfather’s electrical company wired maple leaf
gardens. my father was captain of his high school hockey
team. my great uncle wrote the first book on the history of
the stanley cup. my father always had a subscription to hockey
news. my older brother received his monthly fix through
hockey pictorial. pre-cable pre-expansion pre-widespread
hockey acceptance in north america, we listened to games
on the radio.

in 1968 my family moved to vancouver and my brother got a
job as a statistician with the WHL canucks. over the years my
parents held season’s tickets for the maple leafs and canucks
and panthers (not at the same time). when i went to university
in madison (early 70s), bob johnson was hockey coach and
wisconsin became the best collegiate team in the USA.

i finally met my hockey hero (mr. hockey himself) in las
vegas a couple of years before he died. gordie was playful
and gracious and especially nice to my son, zachary.

although never a player, i became an ardent student of the
game. it’s in my DNA.

p.s. in case you’re wondering, i’m the left winger on the right.

what’s in a name?

the birthplace of canada’s game
believed to be windsor
nova scotia
or at least one birthplace
where a rugged brand of hurley-on-ice
played on a long frozen schoolyard marsh
evolved from a free-for-all
with up to 100 a side
to an organized event with limits
& rules.

but before the chaos fell into order
historical records show a british colonel
stationed at windsor’s fort edward
in the mid 1800s
known to use this diversion
to keep his army troops in condition
during the bitter winter months
& appears the game adopted
his name:

john hockey.

all-canadian boy

my father born & raised in toronto
grew up across from moore park
one city block square
with tennis courts
softball field wading pool
& in the winter
no more than 20 metres
from his front door
a full-size skating rink.
all served him well as he grew up
to become an all-city softball pitcher
the second best tennis player in ecuador
& an age-group swimming coach
of international repute
yet hockey always his first love.
a brave rough & tumble defensive terror
unafraid to take a run at much bigger
older tougher lads
he excelled at finding elbows
stick ends & hard board-edges
to knock out all his teeth
more than once
missing dinner for an impromptu trip
to hospital
in the wild fearless days
before television
dental plans
concussion forms
health care
& mouth guards.

good evening canada & hockey fans
in the united states & newfoundland

for some unfathomable reason
my father demanded
we listen to foster hewitt
& because i was too young
to question my father
i listened.

foster always told you what was happening
who was doing it & where on the ice
it took place
with economy of language
often memorable.
he shoots he scores!
the most famous cry in canada
for five decades.

what i remember best
is how he called the game
the instant it happened without bias
or opinion.
saw the contest in positive light.
goals scored not by mistake
but by opportunists.

stay in the moment
create your own possibility
optimism not favouritism
brevity over babble.
my father would be surprised
to know how hearing foster hewitt
on radio
improved my 21st century zen.


From The DNA of NHL
by Stephen Roxborough
© 2017 Stephen Roxborough
Published by Ekstasis Editions