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Since the LiveJournal servers are now apparently in Russia I shouldn't worry too much however, in case the Canadian version of big brother is watching, I wont say it too loudly for fear they'll take away my free health care and over abundance of Tim Hortons Coffee; I HATE HOCKEY.

Yup I said it.

I hate hockey.

In fact I think it's entirely possible that my first words were "I hate hockey" if not they should have been. I'm not much of an organized competitive sports fan in general but hockey holds a special place of loathing for me and I for it.

I grew up a middle class kid in an up and coming neighborhood, a pair of second hand figure skates marked my birthday when I turned 8 and several winters later a newer pair, and, figure skating lessons (that my parents paid for in place of groceries some months) and my dreams of landing a triple axle were nearly always sountracked by hockey pucks slapping against the boards of the local outdoor rinks.

I'm showing my age I'm sure when I start the next sentence with how heavy and awkward my Sony walk-man cassette player was in my hands as I flung myself around the "pleasure rink" that despite the posted rules was near always full of smaller future hockey players. The kind of kids who's parents had bought an entire goalie set for their toddler son and a Gretzky jersey to go with it, poor boy couldn't even stand let alone stop a puck, and yet he and his father and slew of older brothers cluttered up "my" rink with their veritable obstacle course of scattered equipment. Skating during the day or on the weekends was an exercise in frustration. So as you do, I found my work around.

An outdoor rink in Winnipeg is almost as practical as one in Florida. The idea is kind of novel but the reality is often miles away from satisfying. All Canadian kids I think though grew up with an immunity to the cold and even in Winnipeg with windchill factors of -40 for most of the skate able months of the year, we, the die hards, would trek out as the street lights came out from November through March to get in as many extra hours on the ice as possible. And then far too late at night, the the wind whipping ice crystals freezing solid tears to eyelashes, we'd trek home, crawl into bed, and wait for the alarm.

5:30 on a weekday morning and the city is still mostly asleep, the house quite and shivery, it's 1940's boiler kicking on with a heavy sigh would greet me on my way out the door, on warmer days, the sunrise was a breathtaking bliss of prairie sky streaked in pastels of pink, orange and blue, hoarfrost lined trees and the same rink as the night before, waiting for Vivaldi to start on my cassette.

In those early morning hours, in those late evening skates where the rink was mine, I truly felt like flying, zipping around on skates became a blissful escape and a beautiful therapy, wind whipped skin burns from the cold, arthritic hands that would shape and gnarl into my adulthood, and the sounds of the pucks slapping the boards, interruption my serenity.

I stopped skating when I tore all the ligaments in my ankle. Winters went from a beautiful wild child of pastels and fearless frost to a frozen pile of suck. January became a month of hibernation instead of exhilaration. Hockey sticks and laughter, skates scraping the ice. All things wrapped up in a ball of couldn't do's and shouldn't do's.

"If it were a hockey injury we could do surgery to repair it," the doctor said, "but you're not an athlete, right? I mean not a real one? You don't play hockey so there's not need to repair the tears. Just strengthen the surrounding muscles and stay off the skates for awhile".

It was a bad call. The injury didn't heal. And the injury never well.

I suppose I can't honestly blame hockey for that, after all it wasn't hockey's fault. I suppose the doctor should have been more interested in where I was going, versus where I was.


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