The truth is that although I am 100% Italian, I was born in Canada and have Ice hockey in my veins.  I actually made a film more than a few films about hockey and hockey culture.  Great news is that my award winning hockey film is now online where anyone can watch it for free.  It’s here at the NAB website.

SHINNY: The Hockey in All of Us

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The Hockey in All of Us.

 

In 2001 my award winning NFB film about Shinny hockey carried the byline, The hockey in all of us.  I think that perhaps during the Olympics that phrase could never ring more true.
This past week, my film about cultural traditions which laid out the “unwritten rules” of the game as a way of describing the origins of our love of hockey, was finally released online this past week by the NFB.ca after a long rights clearing and thanks to a very persistent University professor who insists on using it as a teaching tool.
After ten years, I watched the film again in the midst of Olympic angst and it dawned on me how much of Canadian Hockey culture is screaming back toward that little game we first experience in a backyard, pond or frozen river.  A few things struck me.  First, the NHL has moved to many outdoor games and these traditions as a way to connect fans to hockey and the outdoor experience.  It’s a bit strange that while they are creating open, outdoor artificial Ice rinks in LA and other cities, the fact is that some of the places I filmed just over ten years ago no longer naturally freeze over.  A small, short testament to climate change.
I don’t live in Canada anymore, i’m sitting in a balmy 14 degrees in Florence Italy as I write this, but somehow I still watch team Canada and need to know how the boys (and girls) are doing.  My film dedicated scenes to women’s hockey and demonstrated that a Shinny rink was “a place to play” for young girls and women when they couldn’t get on any other ice.  The Shinny rink already had the necessary rules and a perfect hockey democracy in place before cities and organizations needed to wake up and provide ice time for women’s hockey.
On Thursday the women’s team will be going for gold in Sochi and an whole country’s identity for a few short weeks will be focused on whether we can assert world dominance on the rink,  the arena we take most pride in as a nation.
What will bring people in front of their television set, or the thing that will force them to tune in on the radio in the car is the very essence of the Canadian values we all learn when we first strap on our skates and experience the game outdoors where it began.  Those values of being tough, not only against your opponent but against the weather and also the value of friendships, teamwork and camaraderie that come with the game.
It’s a reminder that Canada is a small nation: all in it together. Canada wants to assert itself to the world through, not just the game, but through the way only Canadians live, experience and understand it.
This all might be a nostalgic ex-pat missing winter and the occasional hockey game on Saturday night or my weekly shinny game with the boys, but I think it’s more than that. It’s the reminder of every cool hockey thing that ever happened to any Canadian and some that happened to me.  Like the time I ate milk and cookies in Ken Dryden’s office when he was President of the Maple Leafs, or the time I got to wear a Canada Cup ring (Denis Hull) and a 1967 Maple Leafs Stanley cup ring (jimmy Papin) on either hand in a bar in Northern Ontario.
Either way.  Hockey binds us because it gives us each this kind of unique story and the first one usually starts on a cold night, with the feeling of flying alone on the ice on two thin rails as your balance and strength are challenged for the first time.  No matter what you do from that point on, you’re hooked!
Go Canada Go!