Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Homeless Hockey

Lord Stanley came to me in a dream last night. As we sat, sipping scotch on a terrace at Rideau Hall, he regaled me with stories about his time as a member of the British Parliament and his tenure as Governor General of Canada. But mostly he talked about hockey and his cup.

“It’s a damn shame”, he said, “that no one will know the joy of winning my cup this year. It is simply an unacceptable state of affairs.”

I mentioned to him that Canada’s current Governor General, Adrienne Clarkson, had suggested that the Canadian and American Women’s national hockey teams play for the cup. This both interested and amused him. “It would send a excellent message on several levels” he said. “But, still, I can’t help wondering if there isn’t a better way to show those pea brained billionaire owners and ingrate millionaire players how disappointed we are at their selfish betrayal of our game and our nation.”

I sat quietly for awhile, marveling at the complex flavor of his 18 year old scotch, and thinking about our nation, our city and our game. Who could we get to play for the cup? “Well”, I said at last, “the players would have to reflect Canadian values and they would have to have more class than Betteman and Goodenough, that’s for sure.”

“More class than them?” Lord Stanley retorted “Well, that shouldn’t be too hard. Unfortunately, they don’t make suits or skates to fit weasels and leeches have no legs at all. So, who do you suggest?” he asked.

That’s when it hit me like a Todd Bertuzzi ambush. We would get Toronto’s street people to play for the cup. They have a heckuvalot more class than Betteman and Goodenough and ten times more than any greedy NHL owner or crybaby player. And they represent Canadian leftist values and our failing socialist welfare-state better than just about anyone.

We will call it “Homeless Hockey”.

Better yet, we could have a cross-Canada tournament with teams made up of homeless people from all major Canadian urban centers. We could get corporate sponsorship, put it on TV and use the proceeds to build affordable housing.

What could possibly reflect Canadian values more than hockey, homeless people and assisted housing? Of course some of the more leftist politicians and social activists as well as those who make their living in the homeless industry across Canada would likely oppose this initiative claiming that it would exploit and degrade the homeless. Giving them sleeping bags and patting them on the head while doing nothing to help them be self sufficient is apparently OK though.

This could work, I thought to myself. It would raise the profile of the homeless and draw attention to the sheer ineffectivness of the people who claim to be acting in their best interest. Maybe we could start a discussion about what they can do to help themselves, not only what society must do to help them. After all, self respect is something that is earned through attaining goals and being self sufficient. I bet that if our homeless are given the proper support and encouragement, many of them will be able to rise to the level of our expectations. Of course, first, we’ll have to expect something of them. And maybe hockey is the answer.

I gathered my thoughts and blurted out my brainstorm to Lord Stanley. “What do you think?” I asked him. “It would shame the players and owners while helping a lot of people. Maybe something good can come from this lockout after all.”

He looked up at me and opened his mouth to comment. That’s when I woke up. I hope I run into him again tonight when I go to sleep. I’d sure like to know what he thinks of my idea. Maybe he’s got more of that 18 year old scotch. I hope so.


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