It’s September and a new wave of little kids and their parents are experiencing minor hockey. The boys and girls don’t need any help having fun. As for Mom and Dad, some fair warning: here’s a guide to some of the parents you can expect to encounter over the next several winters.
“Talks Only About His Own Kid” Dad. This plentiful specimen of parent will gleefully analyze for you his child’s every pass, shot, mood swing, haircut, tweet and cereal preference. Come February, he still won’t know the names of half the other kids on the team. You can spot him easily because he’s the only dad keeping a plus-minus stat for a six-year-old.
“Complains About Ice Time” Dad. This father can often be found insisting that the team would have triumphed if only his child hadn’t been shortchanged by 23 seconds there in the second period.
“Bag of Noisemakers” Mom. Most teams have a parent who arrives at games with an array of horns and whistles. This is tolerable, perhaps even desirable. The problem? It opens the door to “Cowbell” Dad. And here’s the thing about “Cowbell” Dad: he went to the trouble of bringing the cowbell, so there’s no way he’s going to hit that thing only after a goal. Nope, he’s also going to celebrate good saves, decent passes, kids who manage to stay upright and hot moms who walk past. Come November, police will find you smiling over the corpse of “Cowbell” Dad, and the only thought in your head will be: “It was worth it.”
“Berates His Kid in Front of Everyone” Dad. You won’t spend too long in organized hockey before you witness a parent dressing down his child in public. We’ve all seen it and silently imagined pressing the father’s face against a skate sharpener. Of course, decent parents know the best way to respond to a child’s subpar outing at the rink is to put an arm around your kid, tell him a joke in the parking lot and when you get him in the car, that’s when you make him cry.
“Pretends Not to Be an Intense Hockey Parent but Is One” Dad. This rare breed pokes fun at the stereotypical hockey parent while simultaneously displaying all the characteristics of one. By mid-season, parents will linger in the lobby while he finds a seat—so they can all sit very far away from him.
“An Injustice Has Been Perpetrated on My Child” Dad. Many teams will have a kid who is assessed way more penalties and even kicked out of games. The parent of this child will be unable to see what is obvious to others. How could they eject my boy? It was clearly an accident that his stick repeatedly penetrated that other kid’s spleen!
“Everything Reminds Him of When He Played Hockey” Dad. Mark his words: he could have easily made the NHL if only it weren’t for his bad luck, his wonky knee and a scouting establishment that conspired against guys who were five foot five and 130 lb.
“Take the Body” Dad. If your child goes on to play competitive hockey, he or she will be introduced to body contact, which totally makes sense at a time when some 12-year-olds are six feet and 160 lb. and others weigh the same as a throw pillow. What could possibly go wrong? In any event, there will be a parent who shouts “Take the body!” whenever two players come within 20 m of one another. Women will regard him with disdain.
“Refuses to Learn Anything About Hockey” Mom. After several hundred hours spent in cold arenas, this mother still doesn’t understand what icing is. She will believe, mistakenly, that this is charming.
“Team Strategy” Dad. Here’s a guy who can be relied on to provide instant analysis after every game, complete with a long list of things the coach ought to be doing. He will speak of “shaking up the lines” and “changing the game plan.” He will fail to accept that it is futile to plot strategy for any hockey team whose players still wave to their parents from the ice.
Happily, there will be many parents along the way who fit into none of these categories. You will want to sit with them, socialize with them. Sometimes, you will want to make fun of other parents with them. This too is our national sport.