Hometown Hockey provides beacon of hope for hockey community

It has been a dark time for the hockey community over the past few weeks.

Allegations of racist comments, abuse, hazing and mistreatment of players, at all levels, dominated the headlines.

In this particular space, I dedicated plenty of time and effort to finding a way forward in the game, the difficulties and where the truth might be in all the stories that have come out about abuse, in all different forms.

What Hometown Hockey provided in Red Deer on the weekend, while I can’t speak for other communities, but certainly here, was a temporary distraction – a reminder of the purity of the game and why Canadians have been drawn to it forever.

Kids playing street hockey, young players donning the jerseys of their heroes or their own minor hockey uniform, whichever felt right. Hot chocolate to heal the hands from the cold, former NHL stars signing autographs and an appearance by the Stanley Cup. It’s those moments that make lifetime memories for kids.

About 40 teams took part in the parade of champions, showcasing the individuals who are the fabric of the sport in this community.

Hockey fans young and old crowded the Gary W. Harris Celebration Plaza, coming together to celebrate the game, coming together for each other.

“Kids are able to throw gloves on and put a stick in their hands, and that’s how you start,” said former NHLer Glen Wesley, who was born in Red Deer and was signing autographs on the weekend.

“It’s the grassroots atmosphere here and young players can understand the rules and are able to appreciate the game.”

As time goes on and we grow older, that connection to the pure joy of the sport, for the love of it all and nothing else, gets lost.

That spirit gets mixed up in passion and politics, twisted like an unrecognizable pretzel, into a projection of something that doesn’t resemble why people were first drawn to hockey. Or why we introduced kids to the game in the first place.

It’s about that friendship, community and commitment to a cause that is beyond our own individual desires. The ability to rise a group up above what is possible by a set of individuals. And sure it’s about winning, but only if the kids want to (and they often do) because you can learn just as much about life by losing, as you can by winning.

In spite of everything that’s been said about hockey and all that needs to change, there is a pulse to the game that will simply keep beating in spite of everything, that will keep on churning Canadians’ passion for the sport.

The beacon of hope, that the game can be a better experience than the generation that came before – could be seen on the rosy-cheeked faces of the young players cheered their way through celebration plaza last weekend.

We may need to help point them in the right direction every once in a while, but at this moment, maybe it’s our time to take direction from them. Just enjoy it.



Email sports tips to Byron Hackett

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Anti-racism demonstration was not a ‘peaceful protest,’ as sides spar in Red Deer

Two groups that rallied in Red Deer on Sunday afternoon could only… Continue reading

Addressing anti-mask protests poses a challenge for leaders, experts say

Quebec’s COVID-19 case numbers hit their highest numbers since the end of May

Canada’s Kennedy to yesterday’s man: former PM John Turner dead at 91

Politicians and other public figures immediately began sharing memories

QUIZ: A celebration of apples

September is the start of the apple harvest

Five things to watch for in the Canadian business world in the coming week

The 2020 Global Business Forum in Banff, Alta., will be held as a special hybrid event

New tools, ideas needed to speed up housing strategy funding, CMHC president says

Slow turnaround time on some of its national housing strategy programs

Letter containing ricin sent to White House may have come from Canada: RCMP

The letter contained ricin, a toxic substance found naturally in castor beans

Nunavut reports first confirmed COVID-19 cases, saying both are mine workers

The territory says at this time, there is no evidence of transmission within site

B.C. migrant, undocumented workers rally for permanent residency program

The pandemic has shown how heavily Canada relies on migrant and undocumented workers

Wetaskiwin RCMP make arrests for Hit and Run to residence

Damage estimates are expected to be in excess of $20,000.

Former prime minister John Turner dead at 91

TORONTO — Former prime minister John Turner, whose odyssey from a “Liberal… Continue reading

Hay’s Daze: Happy to be left out of the picture

Talk about being out of the loop. Head in the sand. Uninformed,… Continue reading

Most Read