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The Tootoo Train

May 7, 2011

****Update: The Predators hold their own and the teams head into the 6th game, to be played in Nashville. It’s  2:3 Canucks–it’s the first time that Nashville has made it this far in the playoffs and the Canucks have rarely made it much further. It’s going to be a nail biter!

I’d love to hear some thoughts on hockey as a northern sport. Anyone know the game’s history? The NHL seems to be a true binational league with teams and players spanning both the US and Canada (plus all the players from Scandinavia and Russia).****

Tonight could be the last game in the playoffs for the Stanley Cup between the Vancouver Canucks and the Nashville Predators. Not being one to particularly follow sports, I wouldn’t normally know this, but thanks to a couple of Canadian friends I’ve been able to track the progress of “my” team, the Predators. But wait, if I don’t follow sports in general and hockey in particular, how come I have a team? I don’t have a team so much as I have a player and that player is Jordin Tootoo. Tootoo is the first Inuk to play NHL hockey and I had the good fortune to meet him last summer before I traveled to Nunavut when I stayed at his cousin’s house. Not knowing a thing about hockey, I was quite oblivious to the connection until I walked out of my room one morning and was accosted with a bear hug from a very large man on my way to take a shower. This was my introduction to Jordin Tootoo. After recovering from the shock of our initial encounter and then setting some personal space boundaries, I was quite won over by Jordin’s irrepressible enthusiasm as an entertainer. Quickly figuring out that his cousin’s guests were of a slightly different caliber than (perhaps) his usual milieu, Jordin acted the consummate gentleman (when he wasn’t dangling his cousin’s children by the ankles) and storyteller. He told us about his recent trip back to Rankin Inlet, showed us pictures of the area, and talked about his childhood playing hockey in the north of Canada.

Jordin hasn’t had an easy time with fame, fortune, or family, but you can find the details to those tales in other places. This is just my little story of how I came to take an interest in hockey and I wish Tootoo and the Predators whatever extra edge they need against the Canuck’s tonight. I never thought I would say this, but GO NASHVILLE!

Read more about Jordin and the great second half of the season he is having here.

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