June 5, 2000
This story was written by Conrad Wesley, from the Nakoda First Nation, Morley, Alberta. The Nakoda Reserve is located halfway between Calgary and Banff in the breathtaking Rocky Mountains. Conrad is 23 years old and his favorite food is traditional foods like dried meats. His favorite sports are hockey and rodeo. Conrad wants to get his high school education. He would like to be an Ambassador for his people. He appreciates what others do for him and he likes to be appreciated for what he does for others.
The following introduction was written by an Elder on the reserve, Irane Baptiste.
I tell all my sons and grandsons to stay in school. Education is important. But they don't want to listen. So I've come back to school for myself."
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North American hockey is a physical game which stresses body work and intimidation. European hockey is a finesse game in which skating and passing are the main priorities. The result of the combination is of skill and brawn.
North American and European styles are rubbing off on each other creating a new hybrid of hockey in the N.H.L. Without the crossover of European players to the N.H.L., the differing styles would not have blended. So goes the traditional thinking of "Boston Bruins-style" of hockey.
Observe the players during a game and watch things from afar and you will notice that the European players are gifted and magnificent skaters who play a patient defensive game that'll wait for mistakes from the other team. Once they see an opportunity, they pounce on the puck and create 2 on 1's or 3 on 1's. The end result for such chances produce goals. The skating and stick handling of European players has provided N.H.L. games with a certain razzle dazzle that many North Americans couldn't.
North American hockey is throw it in and chip it out with bone crushing checks and intimidations. The players muck it out in the corners, work on the boards down low and throw the puck back to the point, then head for the net and wait for a deflection or rebound. All that falls in the category of style the North Americans play. It's not just grinding it out that makes this style efficient. The North Americans also play with character and team chemistry. Character is what the players bring to each game and chemistry is what happens when they come together and are quite willing to do whatever it takes to win.
Still there is a period of adjustment for European players who are new to the N.H.L. From the time they begin to skate they play on bigger ice surface with more room to maneuver behind the net. Coming to the N.H.L. takes away valuable space because of the different size of ice surface. It usually is the first difference that they notice and then the physical side of it. The obvious reason for physical contact is the size of the rink. There's less room to maneuver and more crowded so physical contact is made.
What we've learned since European players started coming over here in the late 80's is that you can't do it just one way. A more complete style has evolved here and the result is a new global style of hockey that suits this global game.