Score points with your favourite sports fiend
It would hardly be a Canadian Christmas without some sort of sports-related gift under the tree. From the ice to the slopes to sitting by the fire with a good book, opportunities abound for finding just the right present for both the elite athlete and the armchair quarterback on your list this year. Here’s a selection of ideas at different price points, from easy-on-the-pocketbook to blowing-your-bank-account.
$0 to $50
A book always makes a good, easy gift, and this year there are a number of intriguing options. Never shy, Jeremy Roenick tells stories from his 18-year National Hockey League career in J. R.: The Fast, Crazy Life of Hockey’s Most Outspoken and Most Colourful Personality. The flamboyant former all-star recounts the highs and lows of his playing days—on and off the ice—and, in typical Roenick style, devotes an entire chapter to five players he hated during his career.
While Roenick often sought the limelight, Sean Pronger did not. Pronger played for seven NHL teams in a nine-year career—his playing days overshadowed by younger brother Chris—prompting him to write the appropriately titled Journeyman: The Many Triumphs (and Even More Numerous Defeats) of a Guy Who’s Seen Just About Everything in the Game of Hockey. Pronger’s nomadic career ended with three games with the Vancouver Canucks. As detailed in the book, he just happened to be on the ice when Todd Bertuzzi sucker-punched Steve Moore on March 8, 2004. The book is coauthored by local Rogers Sportsnet Canucks host Dan Murphy.
Tackling the hottest topic in sports today, former Philadelphia Flyers forward Keith Primeau has coauthored (with Kerry Goulet) a book called Concussed! Sports-Related Head Injuries: Prevention, Coping and Real Stories. It’s aimed at parents and players and offers personal insights on the dangers of concussions and the signs to look for; it also gives advice on how to treat and deal with head injuries. It’s not an easy read, but it is an important one for anyone involved in the game of hockey (or any contact sport).
$50 to $100
Christmas gift exchanges mean big business for local ski hills. If you have skiers on your list, lift tickets make for an easy purchase. A single-day adult lift pass is $51 at Seymour, $58 at Grouse, $60 at Cypress, and $98 at Whistler Blackcomb.
If that special somebody you’re buying for already has a season’s pass, some new ski gear or accessories are a better bet. Combine fashion and function with a pair of Burton Baker 2-in-1 mittens, which have an outer shell and a waterproof inner lining that can be worn separately or combined for full effect ($79.99). If mittens aren’t exactly what you’re looking for, you might opt for a pair of Dakine Cobra gloves. Waterproof and windproof with Rubbertec palms and a nylon shell, these will keep hands warm in the harshest of alpine conditions ($99.99).
Maybe you don’t have a skier on your list, but you know someone whose golf game is going downhill. Although spring is still a few months away, it won’t be long before the golfers on your list are looking to work the off-season rust from their swings. To help them, lessons—individual or group—from a PGA of B.C. instructor might be something to consider. Whether for a duffer learning the basics or a low handicapper trying to get even better, a few pointers from the trained eye of a professional can certainly help the cause; see www.pgabc.org/.
With NHL games not being played right now, the Vancouver Giants want theirs to be the hottest tickets in town. In an effort to draw people to the Pacific Coliseum, the Western Hockey League team has created a six-game flex pack that starts at $108 (taxes included). With 18 of their 36 home games after Christmas, the Giants are giving fans the choice of games they’d like to attend. Among those available: visits from Kamloops and Portland, two of the top teams in major junior hockey; Joe Sakic Night on February 1; a celebration of Gordie Howe’s 85th birthday on March 1; and fan-appreciation night on March 16, at the final home game of the regular season. As well, local B.C. Hockey League teams in Coquitlam, Surrey, and Langley all offer affordable prices for seeing high-level junior hockey. Check out www.vancouvergiants.com/ and www.bchl.ca/.
If you’ve got a hockey player on your list, you’ll rarely go wrong with a new stick. But be prepared to pay. With the advanced materials used today, top-end composite sticks can run anywhere from $179 to $299. Oh sure, there are more affordable options, but who wants to cheap out at Christmas? Remember that most hockey players have a preference when it comes to the curve and the lie on the stick they use, so you may be better off giving a gift card to a sporting goods or hockey shop to ensure the proper purchase is made.
And finally, if none of the above ideas turns your crank and you’re looking to make a splash this Christmas, here’s one final suggestion, but only for those with an unlimited budget.
Perhaps you’d like to buy that special someone a spot in Wayne Gretzky’s annual fantasy hockey camp, set for January 27 to February 1 in Las Vegas. It’s a chance to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in the game. The price: a cool US$11,999. But when it comes to the spirit of the season, this wouldn’t just be a good gift to get—this would be a great one. Details are at www.gretzky.com/fantasycamp/
Jeff Paterson is a talk-show host on Vancouver’s all-sports radio Team 1040. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/patersonjeff/