Hockey Day in Canada: Peter Puck

Hockey Day in Canada has become an unofficial holiday for fans across the country.

From coast-to-coast, hockey is the fabric that binds Canadians together.

Regardless of our differences, fans come together on Hockey Day in Canada and celebrate their love of the game.

To highlight the day's festivities, CBC airs a day-long broadcast, which celebrates hockey from its grassroots all the way to the NHL.

Special features were shown on CBC throughout the afternoon leading up to the highly anticipated NHL tripleheader featuring all six Canadian teams.

Since the event started in 2000, CBC has selected one lucky community to be the hub of the festivities. 

This year, fan favourites Don Cherry and Ron MacLean will broadcast from the William Allman Arena in the small town of Stratford, Ont.

The event includes live broadcast segments from smaller communities across the country and features panel discussions on issues facing "Canada's game" at both the minor and pro levels.

Of course, hockey is more than just the players you see on the ice. There are the coaches, referees, zamboni drivers, volunteers, fundraisers and we can't forget the moms and dads who get up at the crack of dawn.

It's for this reason that Hockey Day in Canada is so important.

It's a day where we can celebrate all aspects of the game and the people involved within each of our communities.

The town of Stratford may be known to many for their Shakespearian productions.  However, the town is quite the hockey hub, boasting some 1,500 kids who play minor hockey. 

The community will be treated to school visits from Cherry and the Stanley Cup, on-ice clinics from former pros and a ton of nationwide exposure.

Hockey Day in Canada has also featured special events that add a special flavour to the day, such as the world-record all-night pick-up hockey games from Red Deer, Alberta (in 2001) and Windsor, Nova Scotia (2002). Imagine how many coffee's they drank to stay awake those nights!

Viewers all across the country were able to watch these historic games without commentary after the CBC ended regular programming for the night.

Not to be outdone, this year the Senator's alumni team will play a shinny game on the famed Rideau Canal. What better place to celebrate this special day!

Hockey Day in Canada has also become a symbol of our country's rich diversity.

In 2007, the game between the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs featured commentary done in the Italian language. Amo l'hockey!

The game was also shown on the Telelatino (TLN) cable channel with special features and commentary by Alf De Blasis who hosts soccer games on TLN.

Since then, matches have been presented in Punjabi, Mandarin and Cantonese.  As a result of the positive feedback from fans on Hockey Day, CBC has added a regular schedule of games broadcasted in Punjabi via the network's website and some cable/satellite providers.

This year, Inuktitut, the official language in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, will be featured for the first time.

Hockey Day in Canada has fast become a tradition among Canadian hockey fans, even taking on the role of an official holiday.

In some communities, such as the case with 2006's location, Stephenville, Newfoundland and Labrador, it is said that Hockey Day is "bigger than Santa."

This year, in the spirit of the game, the NHLPA 'Goals and Dreams' fund will donate 50 complete sets of hockey equipment to young, underprivileged hockey players, in St. John's, Newfoundland.

There's something wonderful about a national celebration of the one thing we're known for around the world, other than beavers and Mounties.

In fact, it's been such a success that one has to wonder when Hockey Day in Canada will become an official national holiday.