Our series "5 Reasons I Love Hockey" features puckheads from all walks of life revealing five things that either made them a fan or that keep them watching hockey. It will run every weekday through August. Enjoy.
In full disclosure, there probably was a time when TSN's Bob McKenzie wasn't our favorite Bob McKenzie on television. That time has long passed. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more respected and connected voice in the hockey media; he plays it straight, his conclusions are grounded in logic and he's not one to engage in the kind of grenade-tossing that others in the sports media gleefully embrace.
He's also a hockey fan and, more to the point, a Hockey Dad. McKenzie's new book "Hockey Dad: True Confessions of a (Crazy) Hockey Parent" (Wiley) is publishing this month; it covers "the good, the bad and the ugly of the minor hockey culture" and promises to go beyond the usual anecdotes. From the publisher:
Michael is now a 22-year-old entering his junior year playing NCAA hockey on scholarship, one step away from the professional ranks. Shawn, now 19, had his competitive minor hockey life cut drastically short at age 14 because of complications from multiple concussions. While Michael has attempted to, and continues to try to, scale the heights within hockey, Shawn has, at times, had to navigate the depths. Their deeply personal stories, and how their father dealt with them (sometimes well, sometimes not so well), are a compelling look into the world of minor hockey -- a major Canadian passion.
Sounds like a heck of a read. Speaking of which, here are Bob McKenzie's "5 Reasons I Love Hockey"; can't disagree with a single one.
1. Drinking In The Glory.
In what other sport can you win the Cup and then drink from it. Stanley is a thing of a beauty. Hopefully, Def Leppard, or anyone else for that matter, won't be standing it upside down this season. And the fact it's presented to the players first -- not the owner or the GM or the coach -- makes it that much more special.
2. Sudden-Death Overtime.
And not just in the NHL. Have you ever been at a minor hockey game that goes into overtime? The sense of drama, anticipation and palpable fear and tension, on and off the ice, is unlike anything in any other sport.
3. The End-of-Playoff Series Handshake.
Try to kill each, figuratively (most of the time), and then try to put it behind you. The healing process begins with a handshake. Again, it's unique to hockey.
4. Growing Up With The Game.
Playing the game myself as a kid, having my Dad take me to the rink, playing road hockey and shinny on the local outdoor rink way past dark, taking my two sons to the rink when they play it, being their (Crazy?) Hockey Dad and coach, talking it, breathing it, reading it (thank you Scott Young for the hockey trilogy: Scrubs on Skates; Boy on Defence; A Boy at Leaf Camp), writing it; working it, living it ... I can walk into any arena in any country anywhere in the world and I always feel right at home.
5. I am a Hoser.
To love hockey this much is so Canadian and Bob McKenzie is nothing if not Canadian.
Take off, eh.