Both of my boys were born in Vancouver, but they’ve lived on the prairies for most of their life – for Charlie all of it but 1 month. So while I may be a Canucks fan, my boys cheer for the Flames.
As much as my wife urges they are west coasters because of where they were born, my boys are prairie kids.
So when we had a chance to Skate With The Hitmen at the Saddledome after a recent junior game, Charlie jumped at it. The C of Red on that ice, he’d get a chance to be the C on that C of Red. (When he was younger he would tell people that the C stands for Charlie, not Calgary)
I’m surprised these skates don’t happen more often, to be honest. After the Hitmen beat up on the Brandon Wheat Kings 6-3, fans could lace up in the Zamboni end and do laps of the rink. A few minutes later, the Hitmen players came out to the benches and signed autographs.
Hundreds of kids burned laps on the big ice and hundreds more waited in line to get out onto the ice.
Charlie was sick and tired for most of the day. I must have asked him a dozen times if he was sure he wanted to go. Skating on the ice would mean packing along our skates and helmets and stuffing them under our seats in the stands. It would be a small PITA, so I wanted to make sure they were into it from the start.
Z was out, his skates are too small, and he doesn’t like skating. Charlie wanted to do it. Then he didn’t. Then he did.
During the game, he was tired, napped on my lap and asked to go home. Then he wanted to stay.
Eventually he made it through the game and we were one of the first into the end zone to get our skates on.
“I just want to do one lap, daddy,” he said once we got out there. His impending flu was hitting him hard, he was bagged, but he wanted one lap. Because he is a Flames fan and that C of Red was his.
So we shuffled around, and I took a few pictures.
Afterwards, I wished I had a video of us skating out there, but I couldn’t have held the camera, while holding his hands, and do all the things. So it was one of those “live in the moment,” type things that we rarely get in these Periscoped times.
I didn’t vlog it, I didn’t stream it. I lived it.
“Let’s go to the center,” he pleaded. “I want to be on the C of Red.” And we shuffled from the goal line to center.
He spent a few seconds standing there, smiling. I snapped a few more shots, and then we went off the ice. It was an entire day building up for what was perhaps 7 minutes of time on the ice, but it was perfect for Charlie. And me.
Now .. some thoughts about the Hitmen’s annual event for public skating on Saddledome ice:
While we were lucky to get on and off in a few minutes, there were, literally, hundreds of others lined up through the stands and concourse waiting for a chance to get on the ice. There has to be an easier and more efficient way to make it happen.
If I were running the show? It would be a regular post game activity, a $5 add-on when you bought your ticket with the money going to kids’ charities. This would limit the number of people on the ice, and give everyone an efficient chance at playing where the pros play.
Regardless, it was a great experience and probably the closest my Charlie will ever get to being in the NHL.