A special shout out to the true hockey dad
(and mom) everywhere
By Jamie McKinven
There he is, the true “Hockey Dad.” He’s loyal, he’s strong, and sure he’s a little bit grumpy (you would be too if you had to stand in a freezing-cold rink at 6 a.m.). He doesn’t get the credit he deserves, but he doesn’t care; he’s got a heart of gold. He’s a true hockey dad.
Nobody pats him on the back for selling 50/50 tickets or working bingo games to help prevent the family from remortgaging the house on the back of astronomical registration and equipment costs. There’s no “thank you” for trading in the red Camaro for a Ford Windstar with dual airbags, child-safety locks and a “Hockey is Life” bumper sticker.
No, being a Hockey Dad isn’t an easy or glamorous job, but that’s what makes him such a thing of beauty.
Being a Hockey Dad is like you’re a member of a fraternity. Once you pass the initiation phase of substantial financial sacrifice, accelerated development of the “Dad Bod” due to bowel-wrecking rink food, and the deterioration of your hands and lower back from carrying hockey bags and tying skates, you’re part of the family.
If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of “The Hockey Dad” or are simply in denial, here are a few tell-tale signs that you are one (à la Jeff Foxworthy):
1. If you’ve ever used cotton batten to fix a shin pad, you might be a Hockey Dad
2. If you’ve ever used a skate blade as a knife, you might be a Hockey Dad
3. If your winter diet consists of stale coffee and rink fries, you might be a Hockey Dad
4. If you’ve ever fixed broken windows or dented siding due to errant wrist shots, you might be a Hockey Dad
5. If you’ve ever been asked to leave a pro shop for causing a scene over the price of hockey sticks, you might be a Hockey Dad
6. If you know how to make a hockey net out of PVC plumbing, you might be a Hockey Dad
7. If you shed a tear the day your kid was finally allowed to watch Slap Shot, you might be a Hockey Dad
8. If you brag about being good at “Chuck-a-Puck,” you might be a Hockey Dad
9. If you own multiple jackets with your name on the sleeve, you might be a Hockey Dad
10. If you’ve ever performed an emergency-brake u-turn to go back for a forgotten elbow pad, you might be a Hockey Dad
11. If you’ve ever substituted NHL player names for swear words so you can express your true feelings around 9 year olds (i.e., “Jeff Chychryn, it’s cold in this Matt Frattin rink!”), you just might be a true Hockey Dad
12. If you’ve been to physical therapy because of a hockey-bag-related injury, you might be a Hockey Dad
13. If you can clear the snow off your entire car while holding a Tim Horton’s coffee and not spill a drop, you might be a Hockey Dad
14. If you’ve ever taped a stick while steering your car with your knees, you might be a Hockey Dad (we advise against doing this!)
15. If you’ve nearly gotten into a fist fight over a debate about which rink has the best hot dogs, you might be a Hockey Dad
16. If you’ve ever faked being terrible at tying skates just so you don’t get stuck being the guy who ties half the team’s skates before every practice and game, you might be a Hockey Dad
So for all you Hockey Dads out there, here’s a slow clap for you. Thank you for tying our skates, taping our sticks, and buckling up our chin straps… Thank you for the 6 a.m. practices, the weeknight travel games, and the last-minute skate sharpenings… Thank you for the post-game treats, $200 sticks, and for shoveling the snow off the outdoor rink… Thank you for the new equipment, old hockey cards, and Rock ’Em Sock ’Em videos… Thank you for helping us with our backhands, for “five more minutes!”, and for tickets to the Friday night game.
And, above all else, thank you for being a shoulder to cry on after getting cut from the team, the positive pep talks after those bad games, and for the warm smiles from the corner of the stands.
Thank you… for being a true Hockey Dad.
Jamie McKinven scratched and clawed his way up to the minors, only to fall short of his ultimate dream of playing in the NHL. McKinven currently coaches his former Junior A team, the Kingston Voyageurs of the OJHL. He is the author of the book “So You Want Your Kid to Play Pro Hockey?” which is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com. For more information visit his website, www.glassandout.com.