MIKE'S MEMO: A Thrill Of a Lifetime
It hardly seems possible that six months ago I was in China marveling at the sites. I thought it was just another of Charles' crazy notions that we would explore investing time and money in developing Chinese hockey. OK, I'll make the trip and enjoy the experience but there can't be much more. Well, there is a reason that he is the boss.
After what I thought was a goofy proposition (sorry, boss) to promote hockey in China, I am now faced with this incredible -- what shall I call it? -- fascination with this re-emerging giant of a land. Our two little teams from Harbin and QiQihar are blasting their way through Canada. From coast to coast in Canada there has been a fixation with these teams. Television cameras follow them everywhere. Reporters are hounding these little celebrities with questions. And the players have been great! There seems no doubt that we have a little David Letterman in the group.
The two teams arrived in Ottawa to be greeted by their host families chanting their cities' names. They were interviewed and handled it with aplomb. Then both teams went out and bashed their opponents in the opening round. Could this be real? Is this the new frontier for hockey?
I don't know what their future is in terms of Chinese hockey. All I know is that it is much brighter today than it was before they arrived. And if the talent I saw can be fostered, then we are looking at something that I can't envision even if Charles Wang can. Most importantly of all, these guys are having fun.
I will say it often. Thanks Stan Pesner. Thanks Paul Packer. Thanks Alan Breecker. Thanks Bob Scheer. And all the other people and companies and teams that can share this success. This is way too cool!!!
* Chris Stevenson's column, "Milbury Puts Hockey on Map in China" from the Dec. 28 edition of the Ottawa Sun