Minor hockey players’ growing pains: next Hockey Unlimited topic

Not every kid who takes to the ice to play for a team in their neighbourhood, becomes an NHL star. But almost every kid who takes to the ice to play for a team in their neighbourhood dreams of becoming an NHL star.

Some dreams are more realistic than others, and Hockey Unlimited looks at dreams, and what they mean for the overall health of Canadian hockey. Its fourth episode premieres on Rogers Sportsnet on Monday, Feb. 16 (see schedule below). This Aquila Productions’ documentary digs deep to find what makes hockey relevant to Canadians young and old.

Realistically speaking, how many kids who spend their childhoods playing for the incredible variety of AAA teams, will end up in the NHL? And yet, their parents sacrifice their bank accounts, their sleep, and their spare time to have their children play the fastest team game on earth.

Is it all worth it?

Veteran hockey writer Ken Campbell, he of The Hockey News, takes a hard look at the question. After all, Campbell co-wrote (with Jim Parcels) a serious study on the subject in their book, Selling the Dream: How Hockey Parents and Their Kids Are Paying the Price for Our National Obsession. AAA hockey is too expensive, and too obsessed with results. Instead of skating and just having fun, kids are playing games all over the place, and the games are mostly of the life-and-death variety.

Is there any logic in this whatsoever? Campbell and Hockey Unlimited tackle this question with all of the seriousness it deserves – and it deserves a lot of it.

When people from all over the world come to Canada, many bring with them their old countries’ pastimes. Cricket, rugby football, association football (soccer for the uninitiated), you name it. And then you’re walking past a community hockey rink and see a kid whose facial features clearly reveal her or his Middle Eastern heritage, skating around with abandon and shooting pucks with gusto. And why not? Nazem Kadri, whose family moved to Canada from Lebanon, is now playing in the NHL with the Toronto |Maple Leafs. If Kadri could, why not others, too?

Hockey goes multicultural not only in the NHL that brings in best players from wherever it can find them. It goes multicultural on the minor hockey level, too. This is what the second segment of Hockey Unlimited’s fourth episode is all about.

The entire nation is glued to television screens when Canada’s girls defend their numerous world and Olympic titles. But what are they doing when there’s no world championship tournament going on and the next Olympic Games are still a few years away? Many play in sundry universities, working on all kinds of degrees while enjoying hockey scholarships. Many play in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, a competition whose pioneering efforts give a professional opportunity to elite women players in North America.

And that’s what this episode of Hockey Unlimited shows in its third story.

And, of course, Hockey Unlimited wouldn’t be complete if it didn’t offer valuable tips on hockey fitness from high-performance personal trainer Simon Bennett and on-ice skills from NHL instructor Steve Serdachny.

 

BROADCAST SCHEDULE

 

Feb. 16

12:30 AM ET SN West, SN East, SN Ontario

Feb. 18

8 PM ET SN One

Feb. 21

4:30 PM ET SN Pacific, SN West, SN East, SN Ontario

Feb. 22

1 PM ET SN One
2 PM ET SN Pacific, SN West, SN East, SN Ontario

Feb. 23

7:30 PM ET SN One

Feb. 26

12:30 PM ET SN One

Feb. 27

Midnight ET SN Pacific, SN West, SN East, SN Ontario

Mar. 1

Midnight ET SN One

 

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