New ESPN column
today tomorrow (my bad, I thought it was gonna run today).
Meanwhile: With all the recent fuss about the new NHL uniforms, several readers have mentioned a Canadian children’s book called Le Chandail De Hockey, or The Hockey Sweater, by Roch Carrier. Published in 1979, it’s already considered a classic in Canada, where it’s apparently required reading and is sometimes viewed as an allegory for the country’s French/English cultural divide.
I just got myself a copy of the book’s English translation, and it’s pretty great. It tells the story of Carrier’s youth in the mid-1940s, when he and his French-Canadian friends all wore Montreal Canadiens sweaters with Maurice Richard’s number. When his sweater gets too old and threadbare, his mother orders him a new one from the Eaton’s catalogue. But when the package arrives, it’s a Maple Leafs sweater instead of a Canadiens model, much to Carrier’s horror. His mother convinces him not to make her return it because, as she puts it, Monsieur Eaton “is English and he’s going to be insulted because he likes the Maple Leafs.”
So Carrier wears his Toronto sweater down to the local rink, where everyone makes fun of him. When the ref calls a penalty on him, he blows his stack and complains that he’s being persecuted because of his sweater. The ref ejects him and sends him off to church to pray for forgiveness. So Carrier heads off to church where — and this is my favorite part — “I asked God to send me right away, a hundred million moths that would eat up my Toronto Maple Leafs sweater.”
And that’s it. The end. No happy conclusion, no uplifting moralizing — just a bitter, pissed-off kid refusing to learn his lesson and unrepentantly praying for a heavenly pestilence to destroy something he hates. Now that’s a children’s book.
Jonathan Goupil, who lives in Montreal, was one of the readers who mentioned Le Chandail De Hockey to me. Here are some of his thoughts on the book:
Every French-speaking kid in Quebec knows this book. We get to read it in school, as it reflects what our society was like at many levels. To French-Canadians, Maurice Richard was a hero, a semi-god. At the time, French-speaking people were more or less cheap labor for big American industrialists who made huge profits running mills and such. Richard was the guy next door who kicked the English-speakers’ butts every night, inspiring the poor and abused French crowd.
This web site has some great pictures from the Eaton’s catalog. I love their Fall-Winter 1948-49 front cover. And looking at this catalog page made me realize how much I love the original six teams’ jerseys. Kind of makes you love them even more. That said, I was surprised to see “replica” jerseys that didn’t quite replicate the real ones. I usually want a replica jersey that looks like the real thing, but in this case I can make an exception. I just love the childlike logos! [Note how these logos match the ones shown on the catalog depicted in the book. — PL]
Merci beau coup to Jonathan for that info, and to everyone who mentioned this book to me. Now if we could just come up with some good uni-related children’s books for American kids to read.
Le Chandail De Hockey was also made into a really wonderful animated film. It’s 10 minutes long, and you can view it here.
Brooklyn Party Update: I’m happy to report that there will be two drink specials available at Saturday’s Uni Watch party at the 12th Street Bar (3pm; 12th St. & 8th Ave., Brooklyn; F train to the 7th Ave. stop). One will be a bloody Mary-esque concoction called a bloody jersey — ask for it by name. And if you identify yourself as a Uni Watcher, you can score a Bud for $2. Bartender Miles Seligman, Uni Watch’s original editor back when he edited the Village Voice sports section, will take good care of you. Remember to take care of him too.
Uni Watch News Ticker: I asked the NHL why the two refs in that Sens/Caps game the other night — Eric Furlatt and Brad Watson — were both wearing No. 27, and here’s what I got back: “Apparently, Watson [who normally wears No. 23] worked the Montreal game the night before but misplaced his jersey. Although each rink keeps an extra sets of generic referee uniforms on hand, Furlatt [who wears No. 27] had an extra set with him and Furlatt’s fit better than the generic set, so Watson chose to wear Furlatt’s extra set.” … In a related item, yesterday’s comments included a link to this great article about Kerry Fraser recently having to make due with borrowed gear after his luggage was lost on the way to Edmonton. … More info on the Bears helmets on the Chicago Art Institute lions, including a video clip, here (with thanks to Jeff Wilk). … Two guys from MLB.com came over to Uni Watch HQ yesterday to shoot some interview footage of me discussing uniforms, facial hair, and a few other things. I’ll let you know when it’s up on their site. … The Hanshin Tigers have unveiled their new unis (additional views here and here, all courtesy of Jeremy Brahm). … Amit Mistry reports that Gilbert Arenas started last night’s Wizards/Raptors game wearing black shoes with gold stripes, “but then, with about then minutes left in the second quarter, he switched to plain white shoes.” … Another NBA report from last night, this time from Brian Thompson: “I was watching the Mavericks/Grizzlies game and noticed that Mike Miller has the Grizz logo on his mouthpiece. He was playing with it in his mouth, very annoyingly, during one of the last timeouts and you could see the light blue bear head on the black mouthpiece. Now DeAngelo Williams has some company.” If you squint a bit, you can almost convince yourself that you can see Miller’s mouthguard logo here. … In the quasi-uni-related department, please stop whatever you’re doing and go directly to Bear vs. Colt, which features very short video smackdowns between a guy in a bear suit and a guy in a horse suit (the one where they compete at Dance Dance Revolution is total fucking genius). It’s sort of like Itchy & Scratchy meets Sesame Street, and not to be missed.