The third in our 118-part series.
Learning World Cultures Through Hockey
Just the way we love seeing about what makes our country special through local-area television commercials, we adore learning little bits and pieces about the world around us through the names and places of hockey. And we don’t mean the smug Jon Buccigross approach to internationalism (“Hey, isn’t the name Hakan Loob hysterical?”) or that condescending Canadaphilia some American hockey fans get (“Hey, isn’t the town name ‘Joe Batt’s Arm’ hysterical?”). No, instead, we’re talking about learning stuff like the most common names in the Czech Republic (but we’re not above laughing at the fact that Patrik Elias’s parents are Zdenik and Zdena, and that they named their eldest son Zdenik) and that you need a license to golf in Sweden. We may still be typical Americans who can’t place 5 countries correctly on a world map, but little by little we’re discovering that Finns love their sausages (thanks, Ville Neimenen), pilsner comes from the hometown of Petr Sykora (IPB’s Arch Nemesis) and that people in Alaska do actually eat reindeer (Scott Gomez’s mom’s speciality, apparently). And for that, we have hockey to thank.
Of course, other than the reindeer thing, our own team doesn’t do much to teach us about the world. Almost the entire roster this past season was American, and the most interesting name on the team was Cam Janssen (and that name is only interesting to those of us who read the Cam Jansen books as kids; we suspect Cam the hockey goon wouldn’t much appreciate us asking him to sign an autograph with the single word “click!”).