DEAR HOCKEY FANTS/ PARTISANS du jeu de la dipsy-doodle, On behalf of Canada/le grand pink bit sur la map, I would like to welcome/bienvenue you to Victoria, home to the world junior championships.
The capital will host some of the best hockey talent in the world. Vancouver, on the other hand, will still have the Canucks.
Presuming that you, dear reader, hail from one of these nations, you may be questioning the kind of clothing you packed for your visit.
The good news is that prior to B.C. Ferries battening down the hatches, the Queen of Asbestos caught a tailwind and made the crossing from Tsawwassen in 17 minutes flat before hitting the beach like Tom Hanks in Saving Private Ryan.
You might be surprised to learn that despite the temperate climate, ours is a hockey town. Victoria actually won the Stanley Cup in 1925, was the last non-NHL city to do so. (Its team, the Cougars, then moved to Detroit and morphed into today’s Red Wings. For real.) A cairn commemorating the occasion stands on Cadboro Bay Road near Oak Bay High, though we’re pretty sure city council is just itching to take it down in case celebrating the Cougars’ cup makes the badminton players, or whoever, feel left out.
We’re also pretty sure council would like to ditch the name of our current hockey team, the Royals, and replace it with something less imperial/colonial — the Victoria Weed Kings, say, or the Thundering Bureaucrats.
This would follow our tradition of team names that reflect the community. Remember when we had a junior team called the Salsa whose mascot was a hot pepper in a sombrero? Nothing says Victoria like a Mexican condiment.
Alas, hockey fans fear government intervention would also mean A) games would take seven years to complete, B) the mascot would be Mr. Floatie and C) fighting majors would be replaced by a six-month dispute-resolution process involving multiple stakeholders (“What I hear you saying, Bobby, is … .”) followed by a comprehensive staff report both demanded and ignored by elected representatives.
Speaking of traditions, visiting hockey fans might also have been surprised to find much of the city locked up like Michael Cohen on Boxing Day. That’s because it’s a statutory holiday, when Canadians who chortle smugly at America’s Black Friday mayhem flock to the stores to exhibit the same kind of behaviour, minus the gunfire.
Boxing Day is when we A) buy next year’s Christmas crackers/wrapping paper/eggnog, B) call 911 to complain that we’re stuck in the mall parking lot and C) get in a fistfight with a nun while going for the last 40-per-cent-off Peace on Earth ornament in the discount bin (this is where the holiday gets its name).
Those people who aren’t working/shopping today are generally trying to get either on (good idea) or off (why?) Vancouver Island instead. When it turns out others have the same idea and there’s a lineup at the terminal, they’ll explode like Don Cherry with gum on his shoe.
This is another local tradition: moaning and bleating about things that don’t much matter. Two-sailing waits. Christmas ornaments. Statuary. Urban deer. Too many pot shops. Not enough pot shops. The sculpture you’ll see in front of the hockey rink today.
The latter is named Pavilion, Rock and Shell, though when it was installed in 2003 a Times Colonist letter-to-the-editor writer said it should be called Cessna, Rock and Fog. If the volume of letters to the editor is a barometer of what we get worked up about, then the sculpture was right up there with the great debate over the woman who danced in front of her seat at a Sarah McLachlan concert in 2005. Thank heavens we’re not dealing with a climate-change crisis, or people might find this silly.
Anyway, welcome to Victoria. We hope your team finishes second.
© Copyright Times Colonist
Jack Knox is a born-and-raised Kamloopsian who once worked at the Kamloops Daily News. He is now a columnist with the Victoria Times Colonist. Since joining the Times Colonist in 1988, Jack has worked as a copy editor, city editor, editorial writer and editorial page editor. Prior to that he was an editor and reporter at newspapers in Campbell River, Regina and Kamloops. He won the Jack Webster Foundation’s City Mike Award for Commentator of the Year in 2015.