Chalk Talk: Hockey is the greatest team sport
I might be biased, but in my opinion hockey is the best team sport on the planet – without a doubt.
There are so many reasons why I can’t list them all, but here are a few:
The Locker Room: It’s where the team collects before the game and the banter starts. It’s a sanctuary where players have so much opportunity to get to know each other as people; significant bonds are created in the locker room. It’s where the coach addresses the team before it takes to the ice, and where they return postgame where the banter starts all over again and, in the case of adult teams, it most likely takes place over a few adult beverages.
The Bench: The way players interact and enter the game from the bench is so unique. What other sport allows for a wholesale change of basically the entire team on the fly every two minutes or less? The fact that everyone on the bench can potentially contribute to the game is another reason why hockey is such a great team sport.
Travel Tournaments: Some of my fondest memories as a coach are the trips my teams took to places like Quebec City, Colorado Springs, Vancouver and even locally to San Diego to participate in tournaments. The dynamics created by taking a team and group of families on the road is always interesting and quite often hilarious; they help create the bond teams need to be successful. Tournaments help fuel such great memories that last forever.
The History: While its origin is disputed, many agree that the ancient game from Ireland, called “Hurley,” is most likely where the sport of ice hockey originated. The modern-era game is documented as initially played in Montreal in 1875 when the first indoor game was contested. It was played with nine skaters on the ice for each team, and soon after was pared-down to the six-on-six format we have today. I grew up playing the sport primarily outdoors, and every opportunity I have to lace ‘em up for that kind of experience, I still take full advantage. Here in Southern California, we obviously aren’t able to experience the extremely cold air hitting our face and frozen toes that go along with skating outdoors in places like North Dakota or Minnesota. While we may be spoiled with some of our terrific ice rinks, recognizing how the sport began is important to its future.
Game for Life: Hockey, like no other sport, can be enjoyed from a young age right through one’s senior years. Because of the nature of skating and the fact that it’s not too demanding on the knees and other joints, people are still playing the game well into their 60s and 70s. I’m living testimony and, while it’s a different game at my age, I enjoy playing hockey as much as ever and the reasons are spelled out above. I still enjoy the locker room banter, and being on the bench ready to go during a game still gets my blood pumping. That and I’ll still play in a tournament every now and then. Having been involved with this great sport for well over 50 years now, I feel like I’ve become part of the game’s history like everyone else before me.
Larry Bruyere is the coach-in-chief of USA Hockey’s Pacific District and also operates Channel Islands Ice Center.