The birth of the NHL

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PICCADILLY — On this day, 26 November 1917, the National Hockey League was started. It was founded in my native Montreal and featured the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators and Quebec Bulldogs.

If you’re not a (ice) hockey fan, and/or most of those teams don’t sound familiar it’s because many of them no longer exist. The Canadiens obviously do. But the brilliantly named Wanderers and Bulldogs are long gone. And the Ottawa Senators was only renewed as a franchise about 15 years ago (an exercise I had a very, very minor role in) after a 60 year hiatus.

What I like about the NHL is the way it held my dreams and imagination as a child. The stories of Maurice Richard and Bobby Orr and Ken Dryden were better than Greek mythology or Aesop’s fables to me. Then I was taught economic by a former hockey star, and got to know some contemporary Habs (Canadiens), and now some people younger than me own the team.

So the gloss has been removed a bit. One of my friends even told me last week he advised the players in the hockey strike of a few years ago that almost sunk the league. I didn’t get up and walk away.

So last night was an unexpected pleasure when I took child number 2 and child number 3 to see Fulham play the Blackberry (according to the 6 year-old) Wanderers. The mystique and mythology is still there for them. Instead of farm boys on skates, it’s inner city kids in spikes, but I can tell it’s just as mysterious and exciting. The dark, the cold, the lights, the announcer. It’s what makes a child’s life exciting.

Maybe holding onto the mystery and excitement is a good thing. Sometimes it feels like work and business life lacks a bit of imagination.

/df



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