Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Afghanistanley Cup!

The CBC's Derek Stoffel has been blogging about his time in Kandahar, Afghanistan. A spot of the country that is the main home of the Canadian Forces contingent and the location for one of the more interesting of backyard rinks one might ever find.

This week a group of NHL alumni have dropped in (literally we might add) for a visit with the troops, to play a little ball hockey and to bring the most iconic of Canadian images, the Stanley Cup along for the ride.

Hockey in the desert war zone must present more than a few challenges for the participants, a blistering sun and dry heat, requiring frequent hydration and the need to have your weapon at close range, just in case.

But a look at the rink that has been built at the base there reminds you of any Canadian community centre across the country. It's the touchstone for many of those Canadians serving their rotation in the Afghan theatre, the familiar vision of normalcy in a rather un-normal world.

The NHL has become a major contributor to the morale of the troops that we send overseas, from an owner like Eugene Melnyk who provided clothing and equipment for the hockey games on a recent visit, to the NHL alumni who are there today, going over for themselves to see what's going on and to show their support. In the last few years, the sport has been well represented and well received.

Good on the NHL for getting involved, good on the alumni for taking part, and good for Stanley and his handler for bringing a bit of Canada to Afghanistan.

Derek Stoffel's report and photos can be found on the CBC website, while TSN's Brian Williams has been busy compiling his reports for the sports network, which you can view on their broadband service and CTV's Canada AM.

Both reports give you some idea just how much these little reminders of the familiar, mean to our troops who face dangers that many of us could never imagine.

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