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There is coffee at the rinks, but it is watered down and tastes terrible. Most bitter of all is the potent showcase of frequently naughty and often near-criminal behaviours adults will engage in, all in the name of hockey.
The picture that emerged was often sweet but often incredibly ugly, rife with tales of extra-marital affairs in rinky-dink hotels, fistfights in the stands, threats uttered, coaches bribed and dads getting so sloshed at tournaments that they wind up in the hospital while their child is fast asleep back at the hotel.
This is our game. These are their stories. The nurse who gets into fistfights with other parents Hockey is a goon game.
There was this one mother, a nurse from the Whitby area east of Toronto, and she delivered babies for a living. And she was as sweet as you could imagine someone who delivers babies could be.
But not when you got her at the rink. Maybe women can go crazy faster. Maybe it is our Momma bear instinct mixed with our hormones, but this nurse would start swearing at the parents on the other team and then she would go at them.
Literally get up and go at them and get in their faces. There were two times — at least two times that I saw — where she got into an actual fistfight.
And she was this sweet little thing otherwise. With the hockey dads, they might swear and yell, but it is the ladies in my experience who can truly go off the deep end at games.
There was another mother. Every parent thinks that their kid is perfect, and every parent thinks that their kid can do no wrong. So they get defensive about their kid.
But this mother, if anyone went near her kid, if anyone so much as touched him and knocked him down and got a penalty, she would get up and go stalking around the arena to the penalty box and start yelling at the kid for touching her son.
She would yell at the coach from the other team. I am pretty sure she was a stay-at-home mom.
And these kids were 13 years old. I came to dread the BS of going to games.
It is like university, and it is the guys that never get out, whose wives keep such a tight leash on them, that wind up going crazy at tournaments — while their kid is asleep in a hotel room. We had this one dad who got so drunk that he started smashing beer bottles and wound up in the hospital getting stitches in his hand.
That was in London, Ontario. No one has ever been arrested, but it can be like prom night. Crazy things do happen, and the dads are the worst Part of the joy of it as a parent — is that it can be immature — and it is fun.
We had t-shirts made for all the Moms on our team. But being a hockey parent is like being in a dorm in first year university. You get thrown together with all these different people, and you have dinners with them, and you go away for weekends with them, and some are people you would never hang around with otherwise — were it not for hockey — and you wind up becoming besties.
But crazy things do happen, and the dads are the worst. They get infected with the craziness. One father, and he is not the only parent to have done this, because there is a lot of wealth around minor hockey, but this gentleman bought into a team in the Greater Toronto Hockey League and his son, as a result, had to play on it.
If there had been open tryouts for that team this kid never would have made it. He should not have been on the team — and everybody knew it.
Not everyone has it. The Dad ended up buying into another team and the kid went and played there. And he was a really bright kid, a really nice kid, but his Dad would use his money the father denies this to buy his son a spot on these teams.
At every age group in the Toronto area you are going to find one of these kids. And if it means the parents are going to have to watch Little Johnny, the ankle burner, play but also watch as their own costs go down they will do it. Luckily the hotels in Detroit are like hotels everywhere and they have long, straight hallways, which were perfect for running in.
She ended up crashing into the wall and banging up her shoulder quite badly. Parents get caught up in all kinds of shenanigans at out-of-town tournaments, because of all the drinking.
The best hotels will offer parents a suite for you to have the shenanigans in. All the Moms made a plan to hit the malls at midnight on Black Friday, so they could get the deals.
But one of the Moms said she wanted to go shopping on her own. This Mom was the team manager. So all these Moms go out shopping and when they get back to the hotel there is lots drinking and carrying on and someone decides to go and check in on the coach.
They were making out. They were busted. All the parents started whispering about what had gone on the next morning. It was awkward. She quit being the manager. After that, we never saw her again at a game or a practice — and we never saw the husband either. They wound up getting a divorce.
But their son kept playing.