Melanie Jeanne

For the Love of Hockey

Mike Smith aka “Brother”

I am a hockey girl. I think it runs through my blood. Maybe it is in my blood because my mom played on her man made ice rink in Detroit as a kid. Maybe it is because I  was born in Detroit. It has to be that right?  But, in all seriousness, my love for hockey came at the ripe old age of 18. I was blessed to work at earls restaurant. Earls is/was a Canadian restaurant located about a block away from the old practice facility and corporate offices of the Phoenix Coyotes. My love grew for the sport and it was simple… Players came in and out of earls daily, hourly even. And the corporate team members lunched at earls nearly everyday. So, you see… It wasn’t so much the Detroit blood line as much as it was the constant parade of Coyotes players and corporate employees. Pair that with the fact that earls was insanely popular with the Canadian crowd and had many transplant Canadian employees due to its Canadian roots. Hockey became part of my culture, part of my daily routine and everyday life. It was part of nearly every conversation and became one of my constants through college. College, earls, Coyotes hockey.

For six years I was part of a transplant culture. For six years, double shifts and many massive nights in the business, there was always a TV airing hockey. For six years professional players and their families, corporate team members and their friends, TV broadcasters and the zamboni driver, they were all common place and became part of my social circle. We (my friends and co-workers) became friends with some players, some dated players, some ended up marrying players. We were in the peek of young adulthood as were they and our worlds were constantly colliding. Simple and easy, we were a part of one another’s life fabrics. They knew me well, I knew them well.

And then I grew up. I left the restaurant business for a career in marketing and I left the Canadian culture in my rear-view mirror. Hockey, remained a sport I loved, though life and daily influence changed my priorities… Years later, with children and a husband, hockey was no longer the priority. One night along the way my husband surprised our family with tickets to a Coyotes game. He had a love for the sport, he knew of my love for the sport and he thought that it would be a fun family night. Little did he know our families capability for the love of the game.

Keith Yandle.

After that evening we were partial season ticket holders. Taking our three girls to as many games as possible. And the beauty of the sport for the both of us was watching our girls love something organically that we both enjoy ever so much. There are cute quirks within our family. The Doodle calls Mike Smith, the Phoenix Coyotes goalie, “Brother” for no good reason at all. It is cute and it is sweet and it has sparked a love for the game within her. We have no clue why she calls him brother and we probably never will, but what we do know is that it has inspired her to become a goalie. She may be small and she may only be three, but she has not stopped talking about being a goalie for nearly a year. We have signed her up for ice skating lessons, once she learns the ice and if she develops skills or an interest, we will see where the ice takes her.

Now, in our second season as ticket holders, we have fulfilled our middle girls love of the sport and interest in collecting game day memorabilia. She has a fondness for a couple of the players and is our resident stat provider. Her ability to understand the sport, the facts and details that occur during a game are incredible. Our oldest, well, she is in her teens. For her it is about the family time. She is not nearly as obsessed with the sport as our younger two, but her fondness for the sport is obvious and palpable. As a female with a love for a sport that runs deep within, as a woman with an incredible husband and as a mom watching my three girls love a sport that is near and dear to me… It is so very cool.

The sport. The family time. The joy and happiness of my girls. The old school love I carry with a million memories. The new memories I am making with my family. It is all incredible. We are a hockey family through and through and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Doodle watching “Brother”


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