The west coast is getting excited about Hockey Day and the countdown to the popular celebration is sure to get the ardent sports fan watching the calendar.
This four-day festival is huge for the hockey fanatics, but also to those who may not be the most ardent of fans, but have an appreciation for the impact the game has had on our country, and how it’s woven tightly into the fabric of Canadian culture.
Hockey Day in Canada will feature a number of big names of the game — Bryan Trottier, Lanny MacDonald, and Wendel Clark, to name a few — that span several generations of players, as well as broadcast icons Don Cherry and Ron MacLean. It will include an alumni game against the locally adored former Corner Brook Royals, hockey clinics and even a trip to a local retirement home for good measure.
The live broadcast will likely be the highlight of the event, and will showcase the best of what Corner Brook — and the west coast — has to offer.
Hockey has been steeped so far within our vernacular that the mere mention of anything related to the national broadcast of our game resonates with the entire population, whether they've never watched a game or stopped watching years ago. In terms of the sport itself, nothing compares to it in Newfoundland and Labrador despite greater participation levels in sports such as soccer or volleyball in many communities. Rightfully or not, hockey is put on a pedestal and it’s held in such high esteem that it generates reaction in all social settings.
The naysayers will say the Hockey Day event is merely a promotion for Sportsnet and Scotiabank, the title sponsor. They are right. It is surely meant to use community pride and love of the game to push their own brands.
However, that doesn't mean the community and the people involved are not reaping some sort of benefit as well.
Just think about the senior living in that home who watched every one of those Islanders’ Stanley Cup victories almost 40 years ago? Or what about the kid who dreams of making it to the “big league” one day and will now get a chance to meet a hero who has? And then there’s the young teen who is an aspiring broadcaster and will now have a chance to rub shoulders with Ron Maclean, one of the country’s best?
These may seem meaningless to many, but the excitement this event carries for those who are affected by the game of hockey and all it has to offer, is worth the corporate push we’ll see — and it’s worth counting down on that calendar.