Hockey has always been to me what music is to an elevator: always present but hardly noticeable.
The background music to my life, hockey was playing on mute during most of my milestone moments: Christmases, graduations, family gatherings, New Year’s Eve. Much like the boring drone of elevator music, I never paid attention to it. I knew my dad was an Avalanche fan and that I was expected to either passionately love the Habs or fiercely loathe them. That was the extent of my hockey knowledge and I felt confident in my desire to ignore the whole sport.
Then, a little over a year ago, I inadvertently watched an Ottawa Senators game. In that moment, it’s like the volume was turned up to MAX and brilliant, sweeping rock and roll started spilling from the elevator speakers.
I watched in awe as Karlsson zigzagged on the ice, moving like I’d never seen a person move before. I spotted Alfie’s blond curls flowing from his helmet and marvelled at the respect his very presence inspired in his fellow players. I understood implicitly that Spezza and Michalek needed each other to shine. But most of all, I wanted to learn. My first reflex was to jump on the Internet and read all I could about this team that shook me out of my hockey-less stupor.
Now, the Ottawa Senators refuse to take a backseat to my life, and because of it, I’ve made friends and had countless conversations that enrich my daily goings-on.
If the Alfie chant has replaced smooth jazz as my default background music, so be it. I wouldn’t trade it, or the Senators, for anything in the world.