Its late and I’m fixing photos.
And I come across the Sudbury series.
My hometown – Nickel City.
The place that drew NASA astronauts to train on the rock.
Because it mimicked the moonscape.
Today, Sudbury is one of the few cities with a functioning, semi-professional hockey team – sort of – in the midst of the NHL hockey lock out.
How did I get here?
AA Minor Bantom tournament with the former concussion kid.
And where does the entire team end up on a Friday nite (not Saturday, apology to Stompin’ Tom)?
The Sudbury Civic Centre and a Wolves Game.
Against the “Saignaw Americans”.
When I finally get into the arena, after dropping kids and a parental unit off to get seats, I am awestruck because its been years since I’ve been there.
Yet, its remarkably the same.
Union banners, popcorn, beer and standing room for the old timers.
Before I find the team, the protocol starts.
A young woman with the big voice from the host city gets ready to sing.
Tradition beckons that the guest anthem goes first.
Except, it doesn’t.
The sound system breaks down.
You can’t hear her, the words or the melody.
So what happens?
Exactly what should.
The entire arena starts to sing.
All the words and the entire melody of the Star Spangled Banner.
“Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s breaking light….what so proudly we hailed….”.
Over 1000 kilometers from the Canada (Windsor)-US border in Northern Ontario.
Followed by Canada’s anthem.
Full voice, full throttle.
Professional hockey is wrestling with the numbers, the owners, the players and pundits.
In Sudbury, my kid and I got a great lesson in sport.
That being part of a community means being part of your country and beyond.
Whether its sending Hydro Ontario workers to the US to help in the Hurricane Sandy aftermath.
Or singing your neighbour’s national anthem at a junior hockey game.
Because they can’t.
Bettman and the owners don’t get it.
Hockey imbues Canadian culture.
And Canadian culture inextricably shapes hockey.
We get it.
But its hard for many Americans to get it.
In order to help them, we need to change the paradigm.
“Yes we can”.
“Yes we can”.
Maybe the Wolves should invite Barack Obama to a home game.