The Hockey Sweater: 21st Century Edition

Kevin van SteendelaarAnalyst IJanuary 5, 2009

When it comes to holiday or birthday shopping for me, and one is ever in doubt of what to get me, one thing is certain. If it has anything to do with the Montreal Canadiens, you have a winner.

Face it, we are in an era of putting a logo of any professional sports franchise on anything from a tooth brush or flip flops to car floor mats and steering wheel covers. A true fan will eventually acquire it.

Now, I don't have the time or financial resources to get it all at once. Not to mention, there's umpteen billion hockey cards out there. Chances are you won't be getting me a duplicate item.

If you do, don't worry. I can trade it for something else or sell it on eBay, and I won't tell you. So you can't disappoint me.

Now first, a little history.

My brother, at one time, was a Boston Bruins fan. Apparently he got smart or the shock therapy paid off and that wore off.

He doesn't have a favourite team anymore, but Joe Sakic is his favourite player. So I guess, by technicality, he's a closet Quebec Nordiques fan. I don't know.

Regardless, he's not big on the Canadiens.

Last Christmas, my brother and his now wife gave me a MacFarlane Cristobal Huet figure, which was pretty cool.

Fast-forward to Christmas 2008. My girlfriend gives me a Habs blanket, towel, and toothbrush. My parents get me Canadiens socks and a shirt.

Even my girlfriend's Toronto Maple Leafs loving family gets me a Canadiens snack bowl. Mind you, they claim they bought it for the snacks that were in the bowl and I got what was left over.

So it's Christmas night and I am enjoying dinner at my brother and sister-in-laws home.

After dinner, we exchange gifts. My brother and his wife present me with two boxes. I am instructed to open the smaller one first.

The package contains the book, The Montreal Canadiens, 100 Years of Glory, by D'Arcy Jenish. I'm very excited having read good reviews of this book.

So it's off to the second parcel. After 38 years of Christmas gifts, I know a clothing box when I see one. I carefully open the wrapping, expecting maybe a tee shirt or pullover.

I lift part of the tissue wrap inside and can see CCM on the tag of a white hockey jersey. I know Reebok makes the new ones, but still I'm excited.

"You guys spent to much" I said loudly and happily. I tear the remaining paper away, and then it happens.

I go completely quiet as my jaw has dropped and I am in shock.

I realize that the very strategically folded and well covered jersey is not that of Les Bleu, Blanc et Rouge, but rather one of the Blue and White!

Yes folks, my loving brother and his wife got ME a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey, in my size too! Possibly the best joke pulled on me in my life, and if not for my sense of humour, the fastest way to get disowned by your brother. Even my girlfriend knew what was going to happen.

After the shock wore off and turned to laughter, I immediately thought of the little Quebec boy forced to wear a Leafs jersey in Roch Carrier's story The Hockey Sweater.

For those of you unfamiliar with it, I linked the animated version.

There are two clear differences; however, between the young lad in that story and me.

One is that I do not wear my hair like Rocket Richard—or Saku Koivu for that matter—and second, I will never ever wear it or be forced to wear it.

Nor would I ever sell it, burn it, or give it away.

I'll keep it somewhere as a great Christmas memory, and a way to fuel my retaliation when my brother least expects it.

Christmas comes but once a year, but maybe not soon enough! HeHeHe

On a similar thread, I'd also like to mention Mark Montefiore's short film Back in '93.

It's a wonderful short film about a 10-year-old boy's coming of age tale as a closet Montreal Canadiens’ fan living in Leafs-Loving Southern Ontario during the 1993 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Note: Unlike the boy in this film, I had NO problem showing I was a Habs fan!