In the Meriam Webster dictionary hockey is defined as, “a game played on an ice rink by two teams of six players on skates whose object is to drive a puck into the opponents' goal with a hockey stick”.
That may be what hockey is on paper but to a player, coach, fan, or enthusiast, hockey means a whole lot more to the heart. To some, hockey is the backbone of their existence, to others it is all about having fun, and for most it is somewhere in the middle.
We don’t play hockey because we’re good at it and we sure don’t play because of the money. We play because of the unpredictability. Sometimes in life we get stuck in the same old cycle. We never know our opponents next move let alone our own next move but we do know that anyone can win on any given night. We play because of that escape from reality. When we step on the ice, nothing else matters in the world. We play because of the experiences hockey gives us. We play because of the teammates that turn into family. We play because of the lessons hockey teaches us that cannot be taught in the classroom. And we play because it gives us purpose.
Hockey is all about being a part of something much bigger than yourself. No matter if you are a player or a viewer, we are all a part of the hockey community. As Canadians it doesn’t matter where we are in the world, when we are playing or watching hockey we feel a sense of home. Also what connects you more to someone than meeting them for the first time and finding out you cheer for the same team? This feeling of being a part of something bigger than ourselves gives us purpose. Which is why if you ask a hockey player their favourite hockey memory, it isn’t them scoring a hat trick, rather, it is the championship they won with their team, or hanging out with their teammates at the hotel during away tournaments. It is all about being synergic.
Our passion for hockey is instilled in us from the very first time we step on the ice, even if we may be off balance with blisters the size of loonies on our feet. That passion remains with us long after we hang up our skates for the last time. Hockey is a special sport that we hold near and dear to our heart and play for something much bigger than simply chasing around a rubber puck.
So next time you step on the ice, ask yourself, why do you play?