This morning, I watched a boy…about six…peek through the “forbidden black curtain” as Nathan MacKinnon stepped off the ice and headed to the dressing room.
“Nice jersey,” MacKinnon said with a hearty chuckle. “Want me to sign it?”
With pure delight the young lad ran towards his hero as MacKinnon handed him a “2013 Memorial Cup” t-shirt and the boy immediately hauled off his Avalnche jersey to don his new tee.
It’s been an exciting week at the rink.
I’ve been back and forth with Spiderman a few times a day…dryland and ice…a few “shooting sessions”…extra time volunteering with a camp of younger players.
He gets there early and if the ice is empty…he steals it.
He can’t get enough of it.
As much as his feet want to skate and his arms want to shoot…it’s the feeling in the air that’s captured his attention. The black curtain closed across the dressing room…a sign of one thing…and one thing only.
Sidney Crosby is in the house.
Marchand…MacKinnon…boys in NHL jerseys.
“That’s a brand new stick that only came out today,” Spiderman tells me as he points to MacKinnon.” And he had it four months ago” he exclaims.
He stands to the side. Watching intently…his arms crossed. Taking it in.
He knows he has to practice harder…skate faster, move the puck and work his hands.
Young kids and parents watch from the stands…whispered comments…happy smiles. You can feel the pride and excitement as they watch their favorite hockey stars on the ice.
I notice my son.
I see his eyes.
He doesn’t want to WATCH these boys…he wants to BE these boys.
A few hours later, I find myself back at the rink to pick him up and he starts with “Did you see MacKinnon with that kid?” Then continues to tell me how Crosby signed autographs for all of the fans and how special he made everyone feel.
He knows exactly the kind of hockey player he wants to be.
The kind of man he wants to be.
And he’s learning from the best.
On July 23rd, Phoenix (a group that provides at-risk and homeless youth with the support they need to realize their potential) will be hosting a “Night of Champions”…a celebration of Nova Scotia’s hockey NHL Stanley Cup heroes. Click on the link to purchase tickets. Sidney Crosby will be there. (And so will we.)