Does Nationwide Hockey Translate into Nationwide Talent?
There are ice rinks springing up all over the country especially in those areas where traditionally the only ice has been in margaritas. But, does this actually translate into an increase in the development of talent?
It will be interesting to see, but I have a feeling it won’t. Great baseball players come from those areas (like the Dominican Republic) where playing baseball in any way, shape or form is the norm. Great basketball players were playing hoop early in their lives on neighborhood courts. Both of these sports can be played anywhere at anytime where the weather cooperates.
Hockey, by default, requires ice. While ice can be made artificially and ice time rented, it is not the same as waking up in the morning, walking out your back door and playing your neighbors in a game of pond hockey. In the Southern states, ice time must be rented and ice time is precious. There is a lack of spontaneity. Not to mention there is a lack of toughness bred.
Shoveling off your ice, playing in less than ideal weather situations, skating on less than perfect ice, with less than perfect skates, all breeds a certain type of player, a certain type of passionate person. It’s the type of person that most people point out is usually the humblest of all professional athletes.
It all comes from “playing” hockey on one’s own-having fun with the sport. Humans learn best when practice and playing are separated by a blurry line. They learn deeper when playing and having fun. Until ice time becomes free in the South and children can spontaneously have pickup games after school, the best hockey talent will come out of those areas of the country where frozen water is more common on the ground than indoors.