Renowned improv comic Colin Mochrie appears in Almost Heroes on Showcase and She’s The Mayor on Vision TV. Penguin Canada will be releasing his book Not Quite The Classics this fall. He will be appearing with Brad Sherwood at Casino Rama on June 22.
Did you play road hockey as a kid?
I did. As a kid, every night in the summer you’d be out there with your friends. I guess it was year-round. I played on 38th and Fraser – it was in Vancouver, so we didn’t have heavy snowfalls. Because I had no skating skills, it was the closest I could come to being Bobby Orr.
Why road hockey?
As an immigrant kid – we moved from Scotland – I found it a quick way to fit in. I was the little kid with the funny accent. I picked it up pretty quickly. I was never what you would call a “superb” athlete. I was always one of those who “gives 110 per cent” athletes. I had the heart but none of the skills.
What skills are specific to road hockey that are not required in ice hockey?
It seemed you were surrounded quicker. In road hockey, you have to think really quick and you have to have really good ankles to make the quick turns. Stick-handling skills were really important. I had a good wrist shot. A quick release.
Who did you play with?
All the neighbourhood kids who were good friends. There were usually about 12 of us. I think the most we had was about 20. We tried to make it professional with line changes. Usually after the first couple of minutes that would fall by the wayside and people would just jump on.
Did you feel particularly Canadian playing road hockey?
It seemed like a major Canadian thing. There is something about the call of “Car!” and rushing to the side of the road that is so Canadian. I don’t think there is anything comparable to it anywhere else. Like stickball. The fact that you could, outside the front of your house, have a hockey arena and inside your mind have millions of fans cheering your every move.
When I look back, you never got tired. It seemed like those games went on for hours. It was pretty much when the kid who had the nets was called in for dinner that the game ended. Then you’d pick it up again after dinner. You were just running for hours on end. I don’t remember getting tired. It felt good at the end of the night. You felt like you accomplished something with your day.
You mentioned the call of “Car” – did you ever feel endangered playing in the road?
It seems like there was this respect between the cars and the kids. Because on every block there was some sort of road-hockey game, drivers were probably more careful. I never felt in danger at all. It is so rare you see road hockey these days on our street.
Where is your street now?
Leaside [a Toronto neighbourhood].
Are you aware that road hockey is actually prohibited in Toronto?
Yeah, what’s that about?
In an effort to reduce liability and increase safety, road hockey was banned some years back in Toronto. Now, a bureaucratic process for residential streets to gain exemption from the ban is being considered. You need formal approval from 80 per cent of households on a street and the city must do a traffic study. Is this bureaucratic lunacy?
It is. I understand how you want to keep the kids safe. But we had none of those regulations and most of us made it. I don’t recall any kind of injuries in road hockey except the occasional stick in the shins. If it’s a quiet street, why do you have to go through this? I’d understand if it’s a major thoroughfare. On neighbourhood streets, the drivers should be careful. I don’t understand why the laws shouldn’t be more on cars and drivers.
The provision of obtaining 80-per-cent agreement on a street seems to me, on a short street, a heaven-sent opportunity for the crabby old widow or mean old man to say “No!” and spoil the fun.
It does seem to be geared toward crabby old people. And for me, I love the sound of young people playing road hockey. The shouts, the laughter. I don’t see how that can be a bad thing. On quiet streets, I don’t see why that should be a problem.
Apparently it isn’t. The current law is rarely, if ever, enforced. There are posted signs, the law is in effect, but it is universally ignored. Is this a negative lesson in civics for kids?
Some laws are dumb. They are made for some long-ago reason no longer in effect today. You don’t want kids to flout the law, but it is good for Canadians to have a bit of outlaw in them.