Hockey still fun despite NHL lockout

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:23 PM ET

There was a young hockey player, maybe 10 or 11 years old, that caught my attention recently at a local community centre. Outdoors in full equipment on a bitterly-cold day, the little guy was putting himself through a good workout, practising slap shots and wrist shots against a baseball backstop, taking twirls around the ice every few minutes, doing stops and starts, skating forward and backward and looking every bit like a kid who wants to make something of himself as a hockey player.

There was no coach pushing him, no over-bearing parent directing his every move. Just a kid working on his game, maybe doing a little day-dreaming about making it big, perhaps hoisting the Stanley Cup.

You could tell this was one of those kids with hockey on the brain, who simply can't get enough of wearing the blades, or the sound of a stick meeting a puck with force and picturing every shot going top shelf.

As I skated with my daughter, who is just starting to go on her own, I kept an eye on that kid and I couldn't help but wonder what he thinks of a pro hockey world where millionaires call each other names and the only action comes in airport lounges and hotel boardrooms.

And it struck me that he probably doesn't care.

Hockey hasn't changed one bit for him. He still practises every day, plays his games on weekends, drives his mom nuts by growing his 'hockey hair' long and makes lifelong friendships with his teammates.

But how can he just go on like there's nothing wrong with the hockey world? There's a lockout going on. It's Armageddon, don't you know?

There are no NHL games to watch on TV, all the best players have defected to Europe, the Stanley Cup could stay in a cupboard all year long, hockey as we know it may never be the same.

Shouldn't he be wringing his hands and worrying about what will be in store for players his age in 10 years?

Nope.

Because to this little guy, hockey is still fun. Like it is for millions of Canadians, it is a passion. It is a game. It's a member of the family. It's something to dream on.

And try as they might, no rich hockey players with mansions in L.A. or powerful executives with offices in New York can ever take that away.

Play on, kid.

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