Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday morning homily XVIII

I know arguments can be made that this weekend's Hockey Weekend Across America is nothing more than a rip-off of Hockey Day in Canada. But, you know, so what if it is? The idea behind both events, even if one is purely a made-for-TV event, is that it celebrates the sport of hockey.

Too bad, then, that wasn't the case for our young hockey player. Though his second season of rec hockey with the Pinellas Police Athletic League Stars was supposed to begin last weekend, it's been pushed back to next weekend. Had the season started on schedule, as we believed it would when we made our payment, he could have been a part of the U.S. initiative by actually playing a game.

At the most, we celebrate Hockey Weekend Across America by having Colin work on his skating during a public session later today.

Now, this isn't a condemnation of the P.A.L. organization or its coaches. They work very hard teaching their young charges how to play the game and, more importantly, how to approach life. I'm sure, too, his P.A.L. Stars teammates all wish they were actively participating in Hockey Weekend Across America.

But, no, that isn't the case.

In what's becoming something of a sad realization, the hockey director at his home ice arena in Clearwater has had difficulties putting together a schedule. This isn't the first time, too. Last fall, we overloaded Colin's schedule, signing him up for fall baseball because we hadn't heard there would be a season. At the last moment, one was cobbled together. Earlier last year, a fee we paid for a season of pee-wee hockey that never materialized was used for more Hockey 101 and 201 classes.

I can't say with certainty why these delays keep happening, but I have a hypothesis. Because the travel teams don't seem to have this problem, it's my guess that the fact they pay considerably more -- upwards of $2,000 a season per player plus travel costs -- is a driving force behind their ease in scheduling. Sure, I wish we could afford such expenses, but I'd rather have Colin's skills and effort, not an ability to fork over huge sums of cash, earn him a spot on one of those "elite" squads.

A couple of weeks ago, as I ran Colin through some skating drills at a rink inside a shopping mall, I was approached by another father wanting to know how long Colin had been skating. Our conversation soon turned to learn-to-skate programs, intro-to-hockey sessions and rec hockey leagues for his 5-year-old son. I had the opportunity to steer the father toward Colin's home ice arena in Clearwater, but I didn't. Instead, I suggested he try another of the three rinks here in Hockey Bay, either in Oldsmar, Brandon or Ellenton.

After this season, I'm thinking it's time to follow my own advice.

Maybe he remembered

A few weeks ago, when the Montreal Canadiens were in town, Scott Gomez snubbed most every request to sign an autograph before the team's morning skate. Afterwards, as he was getting a ride back to the hotel from the Lightning's security staff (What's up with that?), he busied himself by reading a newspaper as, once again, he denied autograph requests made by others.

I couldn't help myself: "Hey, Gomer," I shouted. "That word you can't figure out? It's 'the.' "

Last week, with the Canadiens back in Hockey Bay, Gomez had an apparent change in heart over his signing habits. Except for me, that is. After asking if he had time to sign a Canadiens puck, he looked up me, said "No," and then signed for another couple of hounds.

As I relayed the exchange to Moody, Hound Central 5.0's senior correspondent, he said it would have been funny had Gomez responded with "That word I'm having trouble with is 'No.' "

If he had, and I wished he would have, I was ready with my retort: "Okay, Gomer," I told Moody, "but can you spell it?"

5 Big Sigs

Another two-team week awaits, so here's what we're hoping to add:

~ New York's Rick Dipietro on the right-handed goalie glove;
~ New York's Jeff Tambellini and Mike Dunham to the Threads project;
~ New York's Dwayne Roloson on his 2004-05 UD Hockey All-World Edition card;
~ Calgary's Jarome Iginla on Flames and Canada pucks; and
~ Calgary's Jay Bouwmeester on a Flames puck.

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