Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hockey: not just for able-bodied white men

In 2013, we saw PK Subban win the Norris Trophy for best defenseman and the Chicago Blackhawks, with a roster including Johnny Oduya, Jamal Mayers, Ray Emery and Brandon Saad, win the Stanley Cup. In 2014, we learned that both Olympic Gold Medalist goalies, Carey Price (men's) and Shannon Szabados (women's) were teammates on the Tri-Cities Americans. Also in 2014, the Olympic Men's Hockey medalists were the most diverse ever, with Carey Price and PK Subban winning gold and Johnny Oduya silver. Another 2014 milestone is NBC broadcasting all three gold medal games, men's, women's and sledge.

Those 2013 and 2014 milestones were a long time coming, in 1958 Willie O'Ree broke the NHL color barrier, in 1984 Grant Fuhr won the first of his five Stanely Cups, and in doing so, became the first black Cup winner. When Jarome Iginla was on Canada's 2002 Gold Medal team, he became the first black Winter Olympic Gold Medalist.

As for women's hockey, Isobel Stanley, Lord Stanley's daughter, was playing hockey when he donated the Stanley Cup in 1893, Manon Rhéaume went pro in the early 1990s and it has been an Olympic sport since 1998.

Sledge hockey was is the newest variety of hockey, it was invented in the 1960s by two Swedish men with disabilities who wanted to play hockey and has been a paralympic sport since 1994.

I, personally, enjoy all aspects of the game of hockey and love seeing it grow and diversify. If I had to pick a favorite Team Canada goalie, the decision between Carey Price, Shannon Szabados and Corbin Watson, all three are young, talented goalies I will enjoy watching for years to come.

Appreciating our Past

I've been at least actively lurking in the hockey fan community for a while. Countless times I've seen people who seem to have no knowledge of hockey's past.

Suggesting that Martin Brodeur is the greatest goalie of all time when even greatest of his era (Patrick Roy, Dominik Hasek, etc) is up for debate. Let alone greatest of all time where he'd be going head to head with the likes of Tony Esposito, Glenn Hall, Jacques Plante, Georges Vézina, and many others.

Additionally, I've seen people who appear to believe that women's hockey did not exist before Manon Rhéaume's NHL debut in 1993 or women's hockey being added to the Olympics in 1998. Most hockey fans know who Lord Stanley was, however, far fewer realize that his daughter, Isobel, was a hockey player and played alongside her brothers.

The documented history of hockey goes back to the 1890s, please, hockey fans, take the time to learn some of it, at least an overview of the almost 100 year history of the NHL.