In high-contact sports, such as rugby or American football, rough physical exchanges are integral to the game and may contribute to a team’s likelihood of winning, thereby increasing the appeal of aggressiveness.Other sports can be characterized as rule-bound fighting, such as boxing and wrestling.As Bruce Dowbiggin points out in his 2008 book , it is not a coincidence that the most revered hockey stars in Canada are the ones who are the most humble and, like Crosby and Gretzky before him, are quick to point to their teammates as the reason behind their individual success.
More recently, there appears to be strong evidence that hockey was played even earlier by sailors stranded in the Arctic as part of Franklin’s ill-fated expedition to discover the fabled Northwest Passage.
In Harrison’s eyes, though, “[w]hat’s important isn’t where the origins of hockey is found in Canada, but how Canada finds at least a part of its origin in hockey” (16).
Hockey lovers regard urban Canadian culture as some extended episode of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, a fashion/design industry that keeps Canada out of wars and in designer jeans.
If Canada were a TV program, it would be The Odd Couple.
We leave them there for a while, and then we start to throw things at them'” (Dowbiggin 75-6).
As Bruce Dowbiggin points out in The Meaning of Puck, one does not need to scratch far beneath the surface to see how Canada’s connection to hockey seems to reveal some strong contradictions about the country and the sport: “In its quick, brutal fashion, hockey is a perfect wedge in the emerging urban/suburban-rural split in Canada — the so-called Tim Hortons versus Starbucks.As such, they can be quick to put in their place those who are deemed to think too much of their own accomplishments.Dowbiggin looks to an earlier book on hockey for an explanation of this tendency: “Whatever the origins of Canada’s self-abasement, Peter Gzowski understood the syndrome in his 1982 book . Starved for figures of national interest, we, or our media, seek out anyone who shows a flicker of promise and shove them on to the nearest available pedestal.In mythic terms, hockey is one of the few things that could be said to be ours from the beginning of Canadian time.And for all its simplicity, like all creation myths, hockey is also about Canadian light and Canadian darkness.There are outdoor and indoor rinks in every community across the country; there is year-round media coverage of hockey; most Canadians alive at the time can tell you where they were when Paul Henderson scored the winning goal to beat Russia in the Canada/Soviet series; a hockey scene figures prominently on the back of the five-dollar bill; and, when asked in 2004 to come up with a list of the ten greatest Canadians of all time, millions of Canadians polled put both Wayne Gretzky and Don Cherry in the top 10.“Hockey,” writes novelist David Adams Richards, “is where we’ve gotten it right” (60). How can an extremely multicultural country that has long considered itself as a peacekeeping nation still see itself reflected in one of only two sports (the other is lacrosse, Canada’s official national summer sport) in which fighting is an accepted and even lauded part of the game?You’ll see the words “it’s our game” in everything from commercials for beer and Tim Hortons to school textbooks.The notion that hockey and Canada are equal parts of one another helps advertisers, the sport of hockey in Canada, and broadcasters trying to increase their audience numbers.Indeed, although historians and hockey lovers debate where the first game make have taken place, no one questions the fact that the game develops Canada or, perhaps even that Canada develops out of the game.As Harrison puts it, “Hockey emerges in the Canadian past at the time the Canada we lived in then as separate communities was being made into Canada we live in now as a people.