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Cornered Coach: The Best Present


Computer bugs that drove me batty put the boots to last week's blog. However, we're back on track this week with belated Happy New Year wishes and the hope that you had a festive holiday season.

Yours truly?

I received one of the best Christmas presents ever.

Shortly before settling into the sofa to watch one of Canada's World Junior games on the tube, my 11-year-old lad shared some important news.

"Dad, I've decided I want to play hockey again next year."

After winning a championship in the Toronto Atom house league ranks last season, Max decided to go out on top. He has a real passion for basketball and made the decision to quit hockey and focus all of his energies on hoops. Like most parents, I'm not really that fixated on what kind of activity my two lads take part in. The important thing is that they're involved in something they love and that they're having as much fun as possible. With that said, however, I'm not going to lie and say I'm not thrilled that Max has expressed a desire to return to the ice. After all, I coached that championship Atom team that Max was a part of and, with my boy on the sidelines this year, it means my coach's whistle was put out to pasture. My nine-year-old son, Theo, still plays hockey for a Double A squad in the city. However, their staff is already jam-packed with a group of great coaches. 

Hopefully, I'll be back behind the bench with Max's team next year. But, of course, the biggest news is that my little guy wants to slap on the blades once again, while still pursuing his basketball jones.

So, what led to his decision?

Well, you can give a major assist to the holiday season that we talked about off the top.

As it always does, the World Junior tournament that kicks off on Boxing Day captivated a lot of Canadians and Max was no exception. Max usually likes to go to bed fairly early (all the better to rise at the crack of dawn to play his NBA video games) but during the junior tournament, he stayed up late watching most of the games involving Team Canada. Ultimately, the entire country was on pins and needles for the gold medal game and when the United States scored the shootout goal to win it, Max and Theo (and countless Canadian kids) shed more than a few tears of disappointment.  

Still, it's great to see the national pride and passion that young Canadians display while cheering on their heroes. Speaking of heroes, Max has taken a fancy to John Tavares, a former Canadian World Junior star who's now the captain of the New York Islanders. With school out for the holidays, many families took the chance to hit the local shinny rinks and Max spent a lot of time roaring around the ice in his official John Tavares Islanders jersey. During one of our outdoor games, I passed the puck to Theo who promptly set up his big brother for a goal. (Now I know how the late, great Gordie Howe must have felt lining up beside his two sons, Mark and Marty.) Max couldn't wait to get back home to tell Mom about our family scoring play, and it was great to see his little cheeks flushed red with excitement as he told the tale of our on-ice “heroics."

So, a holiday taste of televised hockey combined with a bunch of fun-filled games of shinny… and what do you know?

All of a sudden, my son's on the comeback trail and I might have the chance to dust off my coaching whistle.

And, yes, that's what I call a very Merry Christmas. 

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