Let's just play hockey
| Posted: Saturday, Jul 07, 2012 06:00 am
Hockey in Canada is probably as emotional a subject as can be found. It is our game, it runs through our veins as surely as does blood.
So it was no surprise when this week’s controversy arose over the backyard rink being build by former Edmonton Oiler Fernando Pisani in Riverstone Pointe in Sturgeon County. When the Gazette posted its story and a picture of the rink under construction on its website Wednesday evening, it sparked a firestorm of hits and comments.
There were more than 9,000 hits on the Gazette website Thursday – more than double the normal. Supporters and opponents were debating the pros and cons on Twitter and the story was picked up by dozens of other websites, including some foreign language sites.
On a day when the sports world was full of major stories – from Steve Nash signing with the Los Angeles Lakers to Olympic sprint champion Usain Bolt withdrawing from his final race before the London Games due to injury – the backyard rink was among the most talked-about subjects.
There are a lot of legitimate arguments to be made by both sides in this disagreement.
The neighbours have a right to be concerned about the noise factor. Imagine a dozen or so kids banging pucks against boards, slapping sticks on the ice, yelling for passes and just generally being noisy kids. But then, isn’t that as Canadian as it gets?
If this is used like most backyard rinks, the kids will be there right after school until they get called in, and that means the lights will be on from about 4 p.m. until past some people’s bedtime.
And this is not your normal “backyard rink” where Dad goes out several times a day with the garden hose to build up an ice patch over the grass. And it melts in the spring and is gone.
This is a permanent facility with a concrete pad, boards, Plexiglas ends (where’s the fun in that when the kids don’t even have to stomp through snowbanks to find the pucks?) and three-metre-tall light standards.
This is not the type of backyard rink that Wayne Gretzky learned to play on.
So, yes, the neighbours have a point in saying the county should have looked into this more and required at least a permit. This is much more than a simple backyard shed or a deck.
On the other hand, this is about hockey and it is Canada.
We get adults whining and complaining about kids playing hockey on the streets.
We complain that the game is so structured now that kids hardly have a normal life because Mom or Dad have dreams of professionalism and million-dollar contracts. And hockey doesn’t allow the child to play other sports, even in the summertime.
So here is a Dad, admittedly a millionaire ex-hockey player, who wants to give his pre-teen kids a chance to skate and have fun with their friends in the safety of their own backyard. To learn the skills of the game, and God knows we certainly need more Canadians in the NHL playing with more skill and less brawn.
So, yes, the neighbours have a right to be concerned, but Pisani is doing what almost every Canadian dad would love to do. This is one disagreement that should be settled in the backyard, perhaps with a friendly beer, lots of conversation and a good old-fashioned game of shinny … Fernando versus all comers.