Monday, May 17, 2021

Holy old hockey games!

I RECONNECTED WITH an old friend on Facebook Messenger last night. Ken VanAndel was a fellow Calvin College student in the early 1980s, and we had a lot of crazy times together. I haven't seen him since those days. We were childhood friends in Montreal when we were 7 years old, and he now lives in Toronto.

We probably should have been talking about important things like kids, jobs and why Toronto is still shut down due to COVID-19. The discussion started innocently enough when he said his mother, longtime family friend Vicky VanAndel, wanted to know what my late mother's grandkids used to call her (Mimi).

Kenny V (far right) and me, circa 1974?
Then we decided to remember really important things, like the name of our old Calvin College intramural hockey team. It was Dog Named Blu, named after a former Bruins' coach's dog. We recalled key historical dates like when we lost in overtime in the championship game, and the number of hockey bags it took to bring all the beer into the Calvin dorms when the weekend arrived. 

Then it got really historically significant. We started using many exclamation points when recalling the first hockey game we ever attended. I vaguely remembered it was in the Montreal Forum and it was the Canadiens against the Bruins. Ken got really excited and said it was the first game he ever saw in colour (yes, with a U. Spell it right, Hoser). Ken marveled at the red goal posts and said the game ended in a 3-3 tie.

Look. It doesn't matter that we can't remember kid's birthdays, or when the license plate fee is due, or when we are supposed to go to the family gathering. Go ahead - I challenge you to remember what you got your kids for Christmas two years ago, even last year. See? The really important things are the things we just don't recall, because we are Men and that's the way we are. 

Remembering a hockey game from 50 years ago? Now THAT is important.

Without knowing what the other was doing, we both engaged in painstaking and detailed historical data retrieval, a fancy way of saying Google Is My Friend. And we discovered the game in question took place on Nov. 29, 1972. Guy Lafleur scored a power play goal with five minutes left to tie it. I think my father got the tickets from somebody in his church, First CRC in Dollard Des Ormeaux. 

See? It's the important things that matter. And yes, I was hiding behind the couch in May 1979, barely able to watch the Habs beat the Bruins in game 7 of the semifinals on a goal by Yvon Lambert. Not that who scored when is important or anything.

Anyway, it was great to swap stories and laugh out loud with Ken last night, doing it the old fashioned way over the internet and while watching the crucially important Lightning-Panthers first-round playoff game. Someday when this COVID crap is over I hope to make a Toronto road trip and hook up with my old friend again. I'm sure we'll revive our long-standing argument about who was the better band, Zeppelin or The Who.

Not that I remember arguing about it, of course.

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