Bear Neccessities

In this weeks column Paul Balm finds a positive from a pretty bleak Sunday afternoon

I stated yesterday that the first line of this week’s article was going to be “I thought you can learn more about someone from how they react to winning compared to losing. Now I’m not so sure.” It was going to be about how differently people react to victory and defeat particularly in light of our somewhat less than impressive performance on Sunday, but I’ve changed my mind (I’m allowed to, it’s my column). I decided that I would probably get too angry if that was the subject so I’ll save that for another week when I’ve run out of ideas (sometime early in the New Year then).

So, instead of ranting and raving about things I probably can’t do anything to change, I thought I’d talk about something positive. OK, it’s pretty much the only positive to come out of Sunday’s game but you can’t blame a drowning man for clutching at straws can you?

I have to hold my hands up and admit that some of the comments I made in last week’s column about the Teddy Bear Toss that would have made Bob Cratchitt feel right at home. I still think I was probably right but I have to say it did turn out to be the highlight of the game. OK that isn’t saying much I know but in light of the comments and events that have surfaced since that game, I think it’s important to remember that your average (if there is such a thing) hockey fan is a pretty decent individual. Three thousand teddy bears (and a bike). Let that sink in for a minute – three thousand teddy bears (and a bike) from a crowd of five and a half thousand, that’s a pretty impressive effort. It’s not up there with the fans of the Calgary Hitmen (search Youtube for Calgary Hitmen Teddy Bear Toss – it’s insane) but the fans should be applauded for it and if fans from other teams who have done it before are searching the archives to see if they can brag about throwing more per person or in total then they’re missing the point.

While I was watching the bears flying through the air, including the one that cleared the netting in front of block 10, it made me think that the generosity of spirit on display was part of why I love ice hockey. We’re lucky that regardless of what happens on the ice we’re by and large able to mingle together off the ice. There are exceptions to this of course, and they can often be the most vocal in their comments but that’s up to them and personally, I think they’re the ones that are missing out. I wouldn’t have wanted to be stood in front of the person who had to throw the bike though.

At the centre of this moment of heart-warming festive cheer a small boy stood head and shoulders above almost everything else. As the (if I’m honest surprisingly well managed) clear up commenced the NIC’s staff were joined by one of our junior teams. I’m not sure which one, it’s a long time since my kids were that size but they were about the same height as Jono so probably something like the under 12s. As they were clearing them the reasoning behind the plastic bags became clear, it wasn’t to stop the bears getting wet it was to minimize the damage done from being dribbled or slap-shotted (is that a word?) across the ice. Amidst all this the boy in the 22 shirt took centre stage as he flicked a bear barely (see what I did there?) smaller than he was from one end of the ice to the other. The very sight of it made me laugh and writing about it now has had the same effect. You see, there are good people out there doing good things you just have to look through the stuff that tends to leap up in front of you desperate to be noticed in order to see it.

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