The Winter Classic and Thin Ice

I know that this Blog is usually all about fun and all the great and humorous things about hockey but some weeks are tougher than others…….
This past weekend at our local rink I ran into Philadelphia Flyer legend Bob ‘The Hound’ Kelly. We were catching up and chatting about the upcoming Winter Classic Game being held at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia as well as the Alumni game being held a day or two before it. All the while my 8 year old son Caden was listening and digesting the information. As we got into the car to go home after our Mite game, Cade asked me, “Dad, is that Classic game and the Alumni game being held on the ice outside?”
I said, “Yes of course, why?”
He responded, “Big trouble, I have seen how big the Alumni guys are…….they are going to fall thru the ice……”
Once again the little guy made me laugh harder and longer than I have in a long time. He also made me think….
With just under two months to go, we are in dire need of a Winter Classic. It is truly a great event that reminds us of how special the game of hockey is, played in its simplest form outside in a cold environment.
The way hockey was originally meant to be played. The NHL should be proud.
It hasn’t been a great time in Pennsylvania for sports recently. Our Phillies went out of playoffs much too early. Our Eagles have been less than ‘a Dream Team’ and of course the horrifying story that has come out of Penn State University concerning a football coach and his alleged sexual abuse of young children that he was supposed to be helping.
Now I know that no one has been found guilty of anything but typically a grand jury and twelve accusers don’t come forward after a three year investigation with over 70 charges of misconduct against an innocent person and the cover up that followed unless they have a lot of evidence.  It is just so hard to comprehend but it is also a story that gives us all a wakeup call and a lesson about trust and parenting.
In my current job I deal with a lot of parents and young players in search of the dream of playing hockey at a very high level. Along the way young players leave home very early and also travel with people to showcase events and tournaments that parents and families trust, sometimes blindly. Canadian hockey has had some very tragic and storied incidents of sexual abuse of young children and players. It is important that we teach the basic rules of life to our children and equip them with the necessary skills that are needed to survive and thrive in this environment.  We need to teach our kids about confidence, what is right, what is inappropriate and keep a very open line of communication so that they are not afraid to tell us about anything. Good and bad. 
As hockey grows at an incredibly rapid rate in the United States we should be aware of what we are doing in the search of ‘the dream’ concerning our kids. Get to know your coaches. Get to know your billets. Trust that hockey is a great game but also question the credentials and worthiness of our coaches, billets and chaperones.
The good news is that 99 percent of the people your child comes in contact with, (teachers, coaches, mentors and fellow parents), will be good people who want to help your child grow and become a better player and person.  But reality has told us to arm our children with the tools they need to “thwart” that 1 percent that intends evil.  We have to for our kids’ sake.
We can’t let them fall thru the ice……..

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