The Hockey Sweater: They Were all Ovechkins
Readers know that I have not always been a hockey fan. In fact, I have been a fan of Roch Carrier’s Canadian treasure, “The Hockey Sweater,” since before I was first gripped by the sport of hockey and the star power of Alexander Ovechkin. I was first given “The Hockey Sweater” by my mom and her partner when my now-hockey-playing son was just a baby. To me it was a charming story of loyalty and fitting in, one that made me reflect on my little son and what his life was going to be like. Of course, now it has a completely different meaning as my son plays hockey in a hockey market with a huge star and a Rocket Richard trophy winner.
The story of kids who idolize a star player and who wear only his sweater is not a foreign one to young hockey players today. When my son was a beginner skater, the ice sheets were full of other beginner skaters with hockey skates on and red sweaters with eights. They were all Great Eights stumbling and gliding, step-by-step around the ice. At free skates, Great Eights wove their way through and around and between figure skaters in pink and black. For two years, my son practiced his fantasy shot in our basement just like Alex Ovechkin. When asked, even today, his favorite player is Alex Ovechkin.
We all know that the Great Eight’s best days cannot be behind him — he has no Stanley Cup. But even if he is slowing down — in his old age — he’s the Maurice Richard for kids who grow up in the glow of the Phone Booth sporting the red, white and blue eight. He’s the reason these kids keep the sport of hockey alive — why they drag their parents to rinks at seven in the morning. Just imagine if your son or daughter, real or imagined, received a Crosby sweater in a shipping mix-up. It takes guts to decide to keep it — for parents and for kids. We need Alex Ovechkin as much as our kids do — even if we wear someone else’s sweater.
Disclosure: I own one Capitals sweater: John Carlson.