January 20, 2014

Looking Back: Hockey Day in Canada

Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette had this to say about CBC's latest rendition of Hockey Day in Canada:

It came near the end of a long day of smug, self-congratulatory and intermittently fascinating television served up by our national network: Hockey Day in Canada, a celebration of our national game, of those who play it, those who watch it, those who drive their kids to the rink and those who drive the Zambonis.

Part self-aggrandizement on the part of Ron MacLean and Don Cherry, part the misty evocation of frozen ponds and part the grubby, hard-edged ring of coin being scooped into NHL coffers, Hockey Day in Canada has become (despite its refusal to acknowledge the existence of Quebec) an annual marking point and, at its best, a genuine celebration of our national game.

Those are some pretty strong words, but Mr. Todd is not incorrect. But let's forget about the Ron and Don Show for a moment and look back at some of that intermittently fascinating television, specifically the short video documentary called Ace Bailey's Legacy Lives On.

He was not the greatest hockey player - in fact he was not even the greatest hockey player named Ace Bailey. But he was the greatest teammate and friend in the business. Unfortunately Garnet "Ace" Bailey lost his life on United Airlines flight 175 that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11th, 2001. Not even the hockey world could escape the tragedy of 9/11, but his legacy lives on to this day:

While Hockey Day in Canada is a television event, the CBC website did an excellent job of contributing nice support pieces in the form of blog posts. Be sure to read Tim Wharnsby's excellent biography of Spence Tatchell, the first NHLer from Lloydminster, Saskatchewan. Wharnsby also caught up with the recently retired Wade Redden, while Dave Bidini treats us to a wonderful piece on Wendel Clark back on the prairie.

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