Afternoon on Ice

I have very few regrets in my life.

One that I do have: I never played hockey.

Even from the time I was a young kid growing up in a small Connecticut town, I loved hockey. I used to play street hockey in my backyard and I would cheer for my favorite team: The New England Whalers of the old World Hockey Association. They later became the Hartford Whalers when they joined the NHL before moving to Carolina to become the Hurricanes who I could care less about now.

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Even with Pens throwback sweater, I will never be confused for Sidney Crosby

Still, hockey was a big deal around my neighborhood. However, I devoted my athletic energies towards the more affordable sports like football and baseball. Of course, had I really worked on my skating I might have been worthy of donning the sweater and hitting the ice.

I was reminded of that regret Saturday as Sharon and myself spent the afternoon at The Rink at PPG Plaza. If you haven’t been there, it’s a simple skating rink right in the heart of PPG place downtown with a giant Christmas tree in the middle. It has become a very popular place during the winter, even on this particular Saturday as the Pens were playing Florida at Mellon Arena. There had to be at least a couple hundred people, most parents and their kids, who rented skates or laced up their own as went around in a circle.

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Taking a break from laps around the ice to pose in front of the PPG Plaza Christmas Tree ( with skates on ).

While I see myself as still very much an athlete, my wife clearly skates circles around me. Sharon skated competitively as a child, making those early morning trips to the rink with her father. While she never obtained Olympic glory, she did win some Illinois state titles … and she still has the same blades she wore as a young teen.

While I can do enough to skate forward with decent speed, Sharon skates fluidly and with amazing grace. She can spin and skate backwards with ease. It seems the skills she had on ice as a child had never left her. I marvel at how good she is … always wondering if she had just kept up with it what she would be doing now ( probably not hanging out with a average skater like me ).

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Sharon showing off her grace and skill on the ice

The other thing I noticed while on the ice is how many children are out there … and how many wear Pens jerseys and talk about hockey. I remember when I got here, hockey was hardly a kid’s game. Sure the Pens had won two Stanley Cups, but that had hardly translated to youth league success. Now, the first kids born since the cup are skating and playing the game. The number of rinks have grown and with best young stars in the NHL playing in Pittsburgh, hockey has become huge.

While I enjoy the occasional skate with Sharon, I still wonder what would have happened if I had really put my heart, sole and skate in trying to play hockey.

Oh well … at least I can try to get a stick into Sharon’s hands.

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