Hockey Remembrance

Posted By: Rick Moffat · 11/9/2012 5:10:00 AM

You are about to read clear and mounting evidence I’m going through LWS---Lockout Withdrawal Symptom. Long term side effects are apathy, a yearning to see Scott Gomez on the powerplay, and you’ve spent a fortune on Jacques Martin motivational speeches.

With apologies to Lt. Col. John McRae and veterans everywhere like my grandfather David Moffat who drove the horse-drawn artillery carriage from supply depot to the front-lines, though story has it also was lashed to the wheel for insubordination during the horrors of trench warfare, here is another sign I’m shell-shocked by the Commissioner and the NHLPA:

“In Bettman’s boardroom the lockouts grow,

Between the Cups and talk of escrow.

That mark our place in time on ice,

But now there’s only avarice.

“We are the players. Short days ago,

We survived concussions, stickwork, to make red lights glow.

Loved and were loved, tho this impasse stinks.

Too many fled to European rinks.

To Donald Fehr we had to go,

To you from failing hands we throw The torch,

be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith, there’s no $3-billion dollar pie.

We shall not sleep til we get our dough,

In Bettman’s boardroom.”

Neither my father nor my grandfather played hockey, as well as anyone can recall. (CJAD Mighty Yuks are screaming at this: “that makes 3 generations of Moffats!”) Grandpa Moffat’s youth was consumed with soldiering and the desperate search for work.

Hockey was a luxury my father could not afford growing up. As eldest son he was literally hewing wood and drawing water. He toted buckets back to the house, where one year the whole family savoured Christmas dinner---a beaver shot from what they called “Moffat Lake”---Fly Lake on only the most obscure maps that detail the hardscrabble Canadian Shield outback beyond the failed gold mines of Timmins, Ontario.

Yanked out of elementary school by my tempestuous grandfather, my father fudged his high school credentials to enrol in the RCAF. His father vowed to shoot him dead with his own gun, to save him the horrors of war before the aspiring Flying Officer James Moffat left the dirt poor boondocks homestead.

Playing hockey is not a right. It is a privilege.

NHL millions are not a right. They are a privilege earned in a system that has so richly rewarded so few and cast aside so many. While both sides quibble over “make whole”, in my father’s generation Stanley Cup and Grey Cup combatants were making holes in the ground, to honour their war dead.

To play hockey...to lace up sharpened skates on a fresh sheet of ice, to fire pucks and be fired at, that is a privilege of freedom. If the NHLPA wins the stalemate with Bettman and the owners, I can only hope they will pick up the torch for those who chase the dream and suffer or were dealt setbacks because of it.

The pride of Montreal West, Hab turned Hamilton Bulldog Michael Blunden agrees with me: unionizing the AHL, ECHL and junior ranks only makes sense in a progressive hockey world. The PA must also work with the NHL to boost pensions for aging alumni and ensure counselling programs help those in need once the dream years are done.

Maybe fans should force owners and players alike to give us a full season, even if it ends on Canada Day, and only after the fans have vented their anger or exhibited their apathy by staying away.

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