How The West Was Won

I’ve been clear about our love of Canada, or perhaps more our love of Canadians. G and I held on to every fibre of Australianess while we were living in Canada, our children knew how to sing the Aussie anthem and went along proudly to see the Wiggles with our Aussie flag tattoos and flags – but we couldn’t help but fall in love with the traditions of Canada around us. Having the Rockies at our backdoor meant there was a monthly drive to Banff and Lake Louise, with visitors. The kids learnt to skate, and whenever we could grab a free cheap ticket to the Calgary Flames, G and I were there.

This week when the Westjet video went viral, I along with many others, shed a tear at the beauty of the surprise on the recipients faces as their Christmas wishes made their way down the baggage carousel. “This is what Canada is all about” said a friend as she shared the clip. It was a fantastic piece of marketing by Westjet and I’m sure whoever came up with the idea is receiving a huge pat on the back for their efforts.

But there was another video from Canada that caught my eye this week. To me it epitomized everything that is great about Canadians. In our time of following the Flames, Jerome Iginla was the Captain and star. Calgary is not a huge city so its hockey stars are not as well hidden. My girlfriend from ballet was from the same home town as Iginla, she grew up with him skating at the end of her street.

“All the boys played hockey all winter, he was just one of them. Nothing special.”

I had to ask if he really was that nice. He just appeared to be such a nice guy. Perhaps it was merely a result of some really good media training.

“Yeah, he is. He’s a really good guy. Nice family.”

In a world of professional sport (these guys make millions of dollars a year), the Flames team was made up of players from all over the world. Friends of ours had a Russian player and his wife living across the road from them, they’d been drawn to North America like many others by the NHL. I guess because Iginla (Iggy) was from St Albert in Alberta, it was hard to imagine him ever playing for anyone else.

But professional hockey players are just like the rest of us, they get older. Injuries start to creep in, a broken finger doesn’t mend, a recurring knee injury threatens to finish you at any moment. And then someone in an office with a cheque book and a list of objectives begins to wonder if they could trade off the old guy and get two new young guys for the same price.

Jarome Iginla was a part of the Calgary Flames for 16 years.

When he returned this week to play against the Flames I guess it could have gone a number of ways. How do you feel as a Flames fan when your beloved Iggy returns in yellow and white as one of the Boston Bruins? It just didn’t seem right. Do you cheer? If you’re Canadian, you do this.

Sobbing. I. was. sobbing. It doesn’t matter how much money you put into sport. It’s the heart and soul of its spectators that makes it great. Love those Canadians.

 

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