The Boy’s favourite pro hockey player as far back as I can remember has been Joe Sakic. At last count, the Boy had amassed well over 100 different hockey cards bearing the image of his boyhood idol. He has gone through several variations of Colorado Avalanche and Team Canada jerseys, shirts, socks, underwear, hats and other paraphernalia. He has come to adopt and profess the benefits of the Sakic hockey stick curve pattern. Joe Sakic has been the main focus of several school poems, essays and maybe even a science project. He even named his roommate and pet guinea pig, Joe Sakpig; a name which would have to later be changed to Josephina when we unwittingly discovered that said pig had the wrong plumbing for a boy and we didn’t want her to be gender confused on our account.
As parents, we are pleased to know that a major reason behind Joe Sakic being the Boy’s favourite is the fact that he is a team Captain. In the hearts and minds of many hockey fans, like the Boy, he is “THE” Captain. Joe Sakic has been a perennial leader of NHL championship winning Avalanche teams, having spent his entire career loyal to that one team, and successful Canadian teams at the international level. In the 2002 Winter Olympic in Salt Lake City, Joe led Team Canada to a gold medal and was name tournament MVP. Joe Sakic is a phenomenally skilled athlete, but he is much more than that. He is generally soft-spoken and leads by example. He treats the game and those associated with the game with respect which, in turn, garners him the respect of his colleagues and peers. These are the same morals and standards we have tried to convey to the Boy and the Devil. Respect is an integral part of the game they have come to love and important to societal living in general.
The Boy has had the good fortune of being named a team Captain, in his own right, on three occasions and an Assistant Captain on a couple of others. We would like to think this is because his coaches have recognized his commitment to these basic principles and his ability to set a good example for others. The Devil’s coaches, to date, have seemingly been less willing to name permanent Captains and Assistant Captains, perhaps worrying about the political correctness and/or ramifications of such appointments. But I think it is an important part of the game and the life lesson. As such, the lesson has not been lost on the Devil nor do I think it would be lost on her teammates. While coaches are generally responsible for choosing and naming Captains and Assistant Captains, I believe some input needs to be garnered from the team itself; particularly as the kids get older. On teams, as in life, leaders naturally develop and lead, quite often by their actions rather than their words. Leaders are leaders whether a symbolic “C” is bestowed upon them or not.
As both of our kids have joined new teams and entered new situations over the years, we have consistently told them to “wear their Captain’s hat” whether they’ve actually had letters placed on their game jersey’s or not. We believe they understand this means treating their teammates, coaches and others they may interact with in a respectful manner. We hope the message of setting a good example on and off the ice is resonating with them.
Sports gives us these larger than life characters, some of whom conduct themselves and become better role models than others. We are thankful for players and people like Joe Sakic and now more women like Hailey Wickenheiser; who provide positive images that we can use to guide our kids through the early stages of the game of life.