Tomorrow the CBC Network will celebrate Hockey Day In Canada with 13 hours of coverage from coast to coast.
This years festivities headquarters will be in Nelson, B.C.
HDIC is now a seven year tradition, glorifying our nation united around a puck.
Even if the CBC weren't holding this party, it would still be Hockey Day in Canada, just as it was last weekend, as will be next weekend, and as it is whenever and wherever kids are wheeling hockey bags into an arena with smiles on their faces.
It might be Hockey Day for my daughter - if she wakes up feeling better from the ill effects of a slight case of sniffles, we're heading to Scarborough, a five hour drive, to catch the third game in her teams tournament. If things do not go well for the team, we will head back home. If they win, we stay overnight.
We're not crazy - just Canadian!
As a young boy growing up in Canada, it's always been that way for me. Hockey, hockey, and more hockey.
I started playing basement hockey at 5 when I found my much older brothers stick laying around. I drew in chalk, a net shape on the cement wall, and began firing away - kinda.
Soon it went from ball hockey to street hockey to ice hockey.
By the way, in Canada, we don't say ice hockey!
If an American asks, "You're from Canada, do you play ice hockey?", we'll usually giggle and say "What other kind is there?"
Field hockey? Who the heck plays that?
Ice Hockey (ahem!) is the ultimate of hockey's we chose to play, but there are in fact others.
There is table hockey, air hockey, tonsil hockey, road hockey, kitchen hockey (the first real womens league), backyard hockey, church parking lot hockey, floor hockey, breakfast cereal hockey, pond hockey, computer hockey, chesterfield hockey, beer league hockey, monkey hockey, timbit hockey, dog hockey (they make great goalies), hockey with a road apple hockey....
There's a slang expression for all things hockey.
Boys, have you ever wanted to pull the goalie while looking at a girls Bobby Orr?
Only in Canada!
After I was finished with playing league hockey, thanks to a concussion, I couldn't wait to have sons born to coach.
And I didn't wait!
I began coaching minor hockey in 1987 and following age groups till they hit 17, went back to Pee Wee's and started over again. By my 10th year, my wife and I had a daughter, and I dragged myself away from coaching when she was two.
You see what bedroom hockey will do for you.
Three years later, my kid pushed a chair across the rinks length on skates and began the ardous process of learning to stand, how to fall, and soon enough, skating and puck handling.
A friend of mine who is a league vice president and convenor, once put kids hockey into perspective this way. I had to laugh.
"It's like a drug", he said, "You give a kid a taste of hockey, you might as well be giving them crack. They'll be addicted for life."
Tomorrow, whether we're inside a rink or watching the CBC camera's pan away from the NHL games to outdoor rinks and parking lots country-wide, I'll be thinking of this man who helped me get behind a bench and coach.
I'll think about that chalked net on my basement wall and all the goalie pad stuffing coming undone and being scattered across the floor. I'll be thinking about windows I didn't know a soft rubber puck could break. I'll be thinking of the smile on Jeffrey Dale's face when he scored his first goal of the year for me in our teams final game.
Mostly I'll be thinking of a work force strong enough to power a nation, one that volunteers countless hours paid only in smiles of young children.
Just like we do on any Hockey Day In Canada.