Crosby vs. Henderson: it’s not about the Hockey

The radio is rem­i­nisc­ing about the last Olympics and Canada’s nation­al pride (hock­ey) this morn­ing. In par­tic­u­lar they’re dis­cussing “where were you” in regards to Crosby’s goal… As if it has that scale of impor­tance to Cana­di­ans in gen­er­al (and not just hock­ey fans). It strikes me that what­ev­er its import to hock­ey or the Olympics, the Cros­by goal has nowhere near the import of the Hen­der­son goal.

I’m cer­tain­ly not the per­son to com­ment on the impor­tance of the goals to hock­ey fans. While I can offer my opin­ion on vir­tu­al­ly any­thing, I have nowhere near the devo­tion required of a fan. I under­stand hock­ey (I’m Cana­di­an), I can fol­low a non-glow­ing puck (I’m Cana­di­an), and I can even appre­ci­ate good hock­ey (I’m Cana­di­an), but I don’t quite have the severe form of the nation­al obses­sion that seems to be com­mon. It might be that the NHL ver­sion of hock­ey is bro­ken in sev­er­al ways, but that might also be an excuse.

I do enjoy the Olympic hock­ey, so why am I argu­ing that isn’t a Hen­der­son or (for that mat­ter) a Kennedy lev­el event? It’s not the hock­ey, it’s the social scale of the event. The Cana­di­an Olympics in gen­er­al and the men’s hock­ey in par­tic­u­lar were great … great fun, great times, great sport but not great deep mean­ing.  Cana­da had a good time at its Olympics.  It appeared that the world also had a great time at Canada’s Olympics.  But the world didn’t change.  Cana­da didn’t even change.

A “where were you” moment is more than a moment of nation­al import — it’s a moment of inter­na­tion­al import.  Hen­der­son, Kennedy, the Berlin Wall, etc.  Hen­der­son isn’t impor­tant because of the goal, it was the whole cold war — it was even Cana­da step­ping in to fight the good fight (nor­mal­ly cham­pi­oned by the US).  Kennedy isn’t just sig­nif­i­cant for the assas­si­na­tion — it was where and what he stood for and the hopes of the nation and the world on his shoul­ders.  Sim­i­lar­ly, the Berlin wall… is such a large and nuanced sto­ry, it’s hard to sum up.

I was only (almost) two years old.  If I was in front of a tele­vi­sion, I don’t remem­ber it.  Inter­est­ing­ly, Hen­der­son is not yet in the Hock­ey hall of fame.  It’s said that his skill and stats don’t gen­er­al­ly war­rant it.  But it’s not about the hock­ey.

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