Think of the United States of old and you invariably come across baseball as the country’s historical national past time. For Canadians like Mark Rivkin growing up involved playing ice hockey after school on backyard ponds, community rinks and local arenas. Clearly the icy weather conditions play a huge role in the evolution of ice hockey in Canada, but it’s the culture of the game as well that make us who we are both on and off the ice. The game will be forever tied to our collective sense of what it means to be Canadian and it is certainly one of our most identifiable icons.
The excitement among Canadians is tenfold during special athletic events such as the Winter Olympics. In 2002, more than six million Canadians tuned in to see the women’s hockey team win the gold medal, and ten million tuned in to see the men’s team win the gold three days later.
Though professional hockey in North America is governed by the NHL, Canada is responsible for popularizing the sport on our continent, and many of the rules and regulations still in place today were drawn up by the initial Canadian hockey leagues. Hockey is played on a much bigger stage nowadays with international competition happening worldwide, but Canada continues to produce some of history’s finest hockey players. Teamwork, resourcefulness, tenacity, humility and triumph are the principles Canadians try to uphold throughout the community as well as individuals, and ice hockey helps cement these virtues throughout our lifetime.