'You're just like your father': How hockey holds this dad and daughter together
Dwan Street got her love of hockey from her father Roy
I was four or five when I learned that my dad did not play for the Detroit Red Wings.
My cousin was babysitting me while Dad was at the rink. I do not remember if Mom had been sick at work or needed something, but my cousin had to call the arena and reach him.
"What team does your dad play on?" she asked me.
I announced proudly, "The Detroit Red Wings!"
She had to break the news to me. I guess playing for Carpenter's Home Hardware is almost as glamorous.
Those who know me know that hockey is a huge part of who I am. I play myself, and I'm a huge Pittsburgh Penguins fan. I live in, and will probably die in, my seat at Mile One for Newfoundland Growlers games.
I am often asked what made me such a fanatic for the sport. The answer is simple: my dad.
Start 'em young
Dad and I have shared a love of hockey for as long as I can remember. When I was a kid he told me about how he became a Red Wings fan, watching television at his house for the first time, seeing a shadow going by through the snow on the screen and hearing Gordie Howe's name.
He rightfully waited 36 years to tell me my grandfather was a Leafs fan.
On Saturday nights my uncles would come by for Hockey Night in Canada, the familiar theme song ringing through the house. They let me join them and I thanked them by being their beer fetcher. Now that I think about it, they had a pretty good system going.
We collected hockey cards together. Cases and crates filled with those cards, and the issues of the Hockey News that Dad read in his recliner, are still in the basement at home.
But we didn't just share hockey at home; Mom took me to the arena to watch him play. I still remember his red leather Cooper gloves. I would hand him Shopsy's pepperoni sticks over the glass; how he did not die of heartburn, I will never know.
I would be waiting excitedly to greet him as he returned from tournaments with trophies, medals, She-Ra or He-Man figurines, and a hangover in tow.
A shared interest
I fell in love with the game.
Saying it makes me feel old but when I was growing up, girls didn't play hockey. I was a figure skater instead. That didn't stop Dad from buying me my first jersey, a white practice jersey with navy vinyl letters: No. 11, Messier. I am forever grateful he smartened me up and did not let me become an Oilers fan.
When I wanted to play road hockey he gladly bought me a fancy purple set of Road Warrior pads, glove and blocker. That old wooden Sherwood stick is still kicking around somewhere, the blade wrapped with electrical tape.
I once wore that gear in the yard as he took shots with Mom's attempt at tea buns. (Sorry, Mom!)
Then, I found my first love: the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Dad took me — reluctantly, I am sure — to buy my first Penguins jersey. No. 66, Lemieux. It still hangs in my closet, along with the other 26 jerseys I own. I wore it to figure skating practices more often than I wore skirts.
Over the years, hockey has remained a shared interest for us. Dad and I rant about the game, the draft, free agency. Both 2008 and 2009 were tense years. His Wings took the Cup first, but me and my Pens got our revenge. Take that, Marian Hossa.
Finally, at 34, I got the chance to play the game I love so much. Since then the hockey rink has been my happy place, five or six times a week. I very proudly wore my dad's Cooper shin pads from the '70s for the first part of my playing career. I refused to replace them — until I took a hard shot in the leg. Now I think they are better off shadow boxed.
Like old times
Dad loves Bob Probert. He hates Jeff Blashill. When the Cup came to Bonavista and I gave him a Pavel Datsyuk jersey he asked, with his usual wit, "Why does that have a fight strap on it?" (It's clear where I get my love of old-time hockey.)
Dad does not play anymore, but he still shares stories about when he did. Now that I'm older, I can appreciate — and relate to — some of the team shenanigans he participated in.
And just like those evenings when my uncles would come over, we still spend many a night when I am home sitting in the kitchen with a brew and a hockey game.
No Leafs games, though.
When Mom comes home and finds us there together, her usual response is to shake her head and mutter, "You're just like your father."
That makes me proud.
Happy Father's Day, Dad. Thank you for instilling in me a love of the game that is such a huge part of my life.
And no, the Pens do not need Jimmy Howard.