a sporting chance

My wife Eva has exhibited little interest in hockey over the years.

My wife Eva has exhibited little interest in hockey over the years. When our son Liam gave a ice dance demonstration with his partner during the second intermission of a Montreal Canadien’s game some years back, the Canadien’s provided us with one free ticket. She had no desire to go if it meant sitting through the whole game.

I profited from her lack of interest.

For some reason, though, she has kept, for more than 50 years, one and only one hockey momento.

On a scrap of paper, Eva has the autograph of Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion. The memory of the late Geoffrion may have largely faded from the memory of most current hockey fans, but he has a recognized place in the game’s history as his spot in Hockey Hall of Fame will attest.

While Boom Boom Geoffrion became only the second player in NHL history to score 50 goals during a season in 1960-61 while wearing the Montreal Canadien’s jersey, the slapshot is his real claim to fame.

His innovation sees the stick bow as it hits the ice just behind the puck. The extra stored energy snaps the puck forward on release with more speed than just hitting it directly with the stick could achieve.

Denis Kulyash of the Kontinental Hockey League’s Avangard in Omsk, Russia, holds the current speed record for a slapshot. At the KHL All Star Games skills competition this past year, his shot reached 177.58 km/h. He beat Zdeno Chara’s of the Boston Bruins NHL record time also set this year by 7.15 km/h. Imagine getting hit by 170 grams of hard rubber puck travelling at those kinds of speeds. Fortunately goalies and players diving in front of shots have protective padding to absorb much of the slapshot energy packed into those pucks.

Training, experience and desire gives the hockey player the ability to use a technique like the slapshot and the goalie the needed skills to stop it.

Collectively we are currently staring down a set of factors racing straight at us that are about to launch a planetary slapshot of nearly unimaginable force. Regrettably we just don’t seem to understand this ever clearer impending future for humanity or, more problematically, choose to blindly ignore it.

Have we as a community let down all those local high school grads celebrating their transition to adulthood this month? Does not giving these young women and men the education needed to prepare them for the world reshaping forces they will have to face by their 20th class reunion constitute a real dereliction of duty on our part?

If we don’t show our youth that we truly desire, by not only our words but also our concrete actions, to pass on to them a just, environmentally sustainable world, won’t we have shirked our duty to them?

We need to put that constellation of environmental, economic, demographic and political factors moving us inexorably towards systemic collapse squarely at the centre of our own thinking and government’s policy formation. We need to strive towards a new spiritual and ethical framework that gives real hope to our youth that another world freed from the mindless, destructive curse of consumerism is possible. We need to give them and the generations that follow a sporting chance.

Michael Dougherty is co-chair of the social justice committee of Sacred Heart Cathedral of Whitehorse. Contact pazypan@yukon.net.