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CBC News' Jeannie Lee: How Hockey Night Brought My Family to Canada


When we spoke with some of your favourite CBC personalities about their hockey watching rituals, we knew we'd get some cool little ditties. What we didn't expect was a story from CBC News' Jeannie Lee about how watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs on Hockey Night in Canada helped to change her life. When Jeannie was still a kid in Hong Kong, her father moved over to Montreal in the hope of one day having his family join him. How did Hockey Night help his quest? Read on:

Jeannie Lee - CBC News:

When we were kids growing up in Montreal, we would get so pumped for the playoffs. It helped that for the longest time, our hometown team, les Canadiens, was thrashing the competition, year after year.

I remember spending hours with scissors and Bristol board, carefully crafting a special Playoffs kit to keep close records of each point by our favourite players. One year, I cut up strips of crepe paper to create small pompoms to cheer each move by my new obsession: Bobby Orr.

But I must confess: I didn't fully understand the game. Still, I watched religiously, because I did understand that Hockey Night in Canada meant a lot to our Dad.

He had moved to Canada years earlier to work so he could eventually bring the family over from Hong Kong. It must have been a lonely and austere time for him - living alone, not knowing much English, working long hours and power-saving. What sustained him? His ambitious goal to reunite the family - definitely. And the wonders of Canada, the country that was giving him a chance to earn a better future for us. Those wonders included the national game.

I can imagine him in his basement apartment in St. Michel - watching the action on his little black and white set - being swept up by the action and the iconic figures of the era that he would speak of years later: the uber-fierce Rocket Richard, the incredibly nimble Pocket Rocket, the incomparable gentlemanliness of Jean Beliveau.

Hockey gave him much-needed escape and entertainment. It also gave him English lessons: he would write down any new words as he heard them, and look them up later. Hockey bonded him with others: it was something he could talk about with just about anyone. Hockey also helped him understand Canadian values and how to fit in. "Time to shake hands," was one of his favourite expressions, and not just to sum up the end of a series. That was his shorthand for an important life lesson: don't be a sore loser or a boastful winner, always be gracious.

And so, when he achieved his own personal Stanley Cup victory - being able to fly all of us here and finally live together under one roof, hockey was one of the first Canadian things he introduced us to. And we relished the chance to watch the game with him.

He worked six days a week until about 10p.m. but he had most Saturday nights off. Dinner would be done early, so we could park ourselves around the TV in time for the famous HNIC theme and Roger Doucet booming out O Canada, and then: Danny Gallivan's exuberant play-by-play. It was the one night we could stay up late and hang out. A simple pleasure, but for us, Hockey Night in Canada was so much more, given everything it took to get us here!



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