Too soon! Like it or not, commercial hockey is here
The puck has dropped on another season of commercial hockey in Jasper and for better or for worse, 150 or so members of Jasper’s (mostly male) population will begin their weekly lurch into the dungeon of dramatic debauchery, otherwise known as the Jasper Arena. All over our community, the troglodytic transformation has begun. Responsible husbands, capable employees and holders of thoughtful conversation will, over the coming weeks, debase into jock-strap-wearing life forms concerned mainly with the abilities, activities and civilities of their stick-wielding opponents. The sour stench of sweat soaked skates will permeate garages and basements; dinners will be hastily choked down in anticipation of an impending carpool; and nearly every night of the week, friends and families of those who participate in the Jasper Hockey League will wonder aloud how a normally prudent and punctual person can stretch two 22 minute periods of recreational hockey into five hours at the rink. The answer, of course, is blowing in the wind—a wind which, unfortunately, contains spittle-flecked referee tweets, Old Spice-scented shower steam and the garlic belches of said hastily-choked-down-dinners. Is that also a trace of nicotine from the wedged-ajar entrance to the smokers’ area we detect? No one said playing hockey as an adult had to be healthy. Driven by escapism, peppered with idiotic humour and lubricated with shampoo pranks, the culture of commercial hockey festers and flourishes in the dressing room of eight local teams: The Barley Kings, the Beavers, the Bonestars, the Bongs, the Jets, the Hawks, the Outlaws and the Royals. In these pages, in the coming months, The Jasper Local will attempt to break down what exactly it is which makes these teams tick. It’s not going to be pretty, it’s doubtful that it will be accurate, and it certainly won’t be unbiased, but it will be our goal to get into the goop that makes these players alternately stick together and become sick of each other. With significant changes to several teams’ rosters, the jury is out on who will rise to the top in 2015/16, but one thing is clear: a redoubled effort to dethrone the Barley Kings has already begun. Off-season recruiting by the Royals has landed a couple of big fish and the Beavers have bolstered their D-core in the absence of several key veterans. The Hawks are reformed and the Bongs are hoping their summer pickups are ringers, too. How the league shakes out is yet to be determined. Each squad has the talent and the tenacity to get a win any night of the week but JHL history has shown it’s the group which plays the most effectively as a team which perseveres in the end. In the spirit of healthy competition and with a critical chirp at the ready for puck hogs, snap-shows and poor-sports, The Jasper Local wants to take a lighthearted look at the JHL this year. Commercial hockey in our community is a culture that—perhaps for reasons which will become clear—doesn’t get a lot of press. However, having been around the league for a little while now, we know there’s plenty of mucky material to mine. Let’s have a good season out there, folks. Game on.