Wins of the Fathers

My Dad showing off all the Ranger Wins on the Cup at PPG's plant in Canada
My Dad showing off all the Ranger Wins on the Cup at PPG’s plant in Canada

Well, it’s the confluence of things that has my attention this week. That is, we are in midst of the Stanley Cup Finals, and Father’s Day is this coming Sunday … So I want to tell you a story about both. Besides, you didn’t think I could go a whole year without a hockey blog, did you?

If you have been around for a while, you know that I have occasionally written about my Father’s love of hockey. The two columns I wrote years ago about his love of hockey, followed by our visit to see—and touch—the Stanley Cup, were among the most popular I ever wrote. When my Dad passed away in 2010, many of you wrote that you felt like you knew him from those columns.

But since Father’s Day is six days away, I will tell you something else that my Dad gave us through his love of hockey: whenever I want to feel him around, whenever I want to remember my days growing up, all I have to do is turn a hockey game on the TV or radio. Oh, I usually don’t have the sound too loud, because I didn’t watch that much hockey when I was younger. (I’d only get into the big games and the playoffs), but Dad could watch any hockey game, anywhere, any time. If you heard hockey in the background, you knew he was there.

With the advent of cable TV, he could watch college (and sometimes even high school) games. The sound of the crowd, the cadence of the announcer’s call, the excitement when you hear the word “score”—they all feel like a verbal hug from my Dad. So when I hear hockey in the background, I know he’s there.

Today, his adult son still plays the occasional hockey game and his son, my nephew, is just getting into playing the sport, though alas they are Islanders rather than Rangers fans. And my cousin’s 13-year-old son, who plays hockey at a very high level and has lived and trained in Canada, wears the number “57” in honor of my father.

It’s rather neat that my father’s beloved Rangers are playing for the Cup this week. “Did you hear the thunder in Heaven?” my mother texted me when the Rangers clinched the Eastern Division Championship, “That’s your father stomping his feet with joy.”

No doubt, Mom, no doubt.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there. You leave your kids gifts you don’t even know you gave them.